Astros star pitcher says he has shoulder problem

WEST PALM BEACH.- The “ace” of the Houston Astros, Justin Verlanderrevealed on Wednesday that he is “a little behind” in his preparation after having shoulder inflammation during the winter break, something that could prevent him from pitching at the start of the regular season.

Verlander, who turns 41 next week, called the illness a “small setback” but added that he will be “very cautious in my preparation.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner spoke during the first official day with pitchers and catchers at Astros camp.

“I’m a couple weeks behind,” Verlander said. “I guess my body no longer responds the same at 40 as it does at 25… Let’s see how everything evolves. If something is delayed, it will be a little late. If I’m on time, then I’ll be on time. “I don’t want to rush things.”

General manager Dana Brown indicated that Verlander’s situation does not concern him and that the right-hander planned to release the arm on Wednesday.

“Some of these pitchers, when they start throwing harder, they’re going to feel some discomfort,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be fine. I’m not worried at all.”

Brown added that “more worrying” is that Verlander was unable to release his arm at this time.

Verlander has returned to camp in West Palm Beach after spending last preseason with the New York Mets. He signed a two-year, $86.7 million contract with New York ahead of the 2023 season, but was traded to Houston on Aug. 2. He helped the Astros win their sixth crown in the American League West Division, but they succumbed to Texas in the ALCS.

Verlander won the 2022 Cy Young with Houston after missing 2021 due to Tommy John surgery.

Verlander explained his process in the winter:

“I usually rest as much as possible,” Verlander said of his offseason. “This time, when I stopped being active, and then resumed it, I didn’t feel so good. So it is necessary to take a step back in my preparation. I’ve always been someone who luckily could pick up a ball and immediately be able to throw. It hasn’t been that easy, so I’ve had to slow down a little.”

Verlander also said that he is not yet contemplating retirement, but mentioned that he has spoken with his former teammate Kenny Rogers, who pitched in the majors until he was 43.

“It’s not like I approach this season like I’m going to be 41 in four days and I’m running out of time,” Verlander said. “I have the same process as always: humility, work hard, start from scratch, face the next year and continue doing that.”