New York Daily News
Comebackers tag Verlander
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets will escape spring training with six healthy starting pitchers, which seems like an absolute wealth of arms compared to past years when the Mets were forced to open the season without some of their top pitchers. Only one marquee starter, left-hander Jose Quintana, will start the season on the injured list and one of those healthy arms will start the season in Triple-A.
But for a brief moment on Sunday afternoon, it looked as though history would repeat itself when Justin Verlander was hit with not one, but two comebackers in the team’s final Grapefruit League game of the season. Verlander, the reigning Cy Young Award winner who signed a two-year, $87 million contract in December after Jacob deGrom bolted for the Rangers, was hit above his ankle on one leg and on his calf on the other in the Mets’ 3-3 tie with the Marlins at Clover Park. It was the third time this spring Verlander had been hit by a batted ball.
However, the 40-year-old stayed in the game and still plans to make his first start of the regular season April 1 in Miami.
“My foot went numb for a hot second,” Verlander said. “You never want to deal with a lot of inflammation like that if you don’t have to. My left calf is still bugging me from when I got hit the first time, so now it’s a bunch of extra inflammation that I have to deal with. I’ll be working hard trying to flush that out.”
Verlander’s velocity dipped a bit, but if the Mets are worried then they aren’t showing it. This was just a tuneup for Verlander, who used his breaking ball to get outs on the ground. He went five innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits, walking four and striking out three. He threw 95 pitches and said he battled some mechanical issues against the Marlins B squad. But the
Mets turned five double plays with him on the hill, which Buck Showalter took as a good sign.
Verlander is happy to sit back and watch Max Scherzer take the ball Thursday on Opening Day, and he’s even happier to open up the home slate April 6 at Citi Field.
“It’s something I’m very much looking forward to,” he said. “I’m going to try to introduce myself to Mets fans and, if anything, I think I can promise the fans that I always give everything I’ve got every single time I’m out there.”
The Mets held an intrasquad exhibition to ready players for the Grapefruit League season and will end spring training with another today. Showalter wants to simulate the timing of Opening Day.
Kodai Senga will start for one team and is cleared to throw his splitter again. After skipping a start a few weeks ago with middle finger tendinitis, the righthander was told to hold off from throwing the infamous ghost fork in his last two outings as a precautionary measure.