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Verlander scratched with groin discomfort

2019 AL Cy Young Award winner will throw sim game instead
@brianmctaggart
February 26, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner, was scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start Thursday after reporting groin discomfort following his bullpen session Monday, manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday. Instead, Verlander is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday,

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner, was scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start Thursday after reporting groin discomfort following his bullpen session Monday, manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday.

Instead, Verlander is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday, which is an indication the discomfort isn’t severe enough to keep Verlander off the mound. Baker said it was a precautionary move early in the spring.

“You can be concerned and it doesn’t do any good. We’ll just have to see how he is,” Baker said. “But he threw [Tuesday] and he felt pretty good. He felt real good. You just don’t want the adrenaline going with the first game and stuff like that.”

Thursday was scheduled to be the Grapefruit League debut of Verlander, who went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts last year to win his second Cy Young Award. Verlander led the Majors in wins, opponents’ batting average (.172), WHIP (0.80) and innings pitched (223) last year at 36 years old. He also threw his third career no-hitter.

Whitley back to basics
Breaking out the arm swing he used while he was in high school in San Antonio five years ago, Astros right-handed prospect Forrest Whitley allowed three runs and two hits with one walk and one strikeout in Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Whitley, ranked the No. 19 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, said pitching coach Brent Strom told him to try going back to his high school “arm swing” after watching some video. He was happy with the results.

“He said, ‘Whatever you do when you’re loose and throwing, try doing it on the mound and see what happens,’” Whitley said. “So I did some stuff, and I just was comfortable. I did it back in high school [when] I was throwing everything for strikes. I brought that back to the game. It wasn’t anything I had to pick up considering it was stuff I do anyways. I was really happy with how it turned out.”

Whitley started the third inning and retired the first four batters he faced before getting in trouble working out of the stretch in the fourth inning. He gave up a single to Paul DeJong, walked Rangel Ravelo and gave up an RBI single to Brad Miller before striking out Lane Thomas.

“The last three or four pitchers I threw, I started feeling a lot better,” Whitley said. “I was happy with how things finished and how things started. Overall, a pretty good day."

Whitley said the changes to his mechanics he tried Wednesday weren’t dramatic.

“I personally don’t assess it like that,” he said. “It’s definitely something that I plan on doing, but it was one of those things Strommy brought up, and I tried it and we had some success with it.”

Peacock progressing

Veteran right-hander Brad Peacock, the longest-tenured member of the Astros' pitching staff, has been slow to get started in his throwing program this spring because of the neck and shoulder issues he dealt with last year. He’s not injured, but he is just on a delayed throwing schedule.

Peacock said Wednesday he had a good week of work and feels really good. He started throwing some off-speed pitches off flat ground and hopes to get on the mound early next week. If he progresses as expected, he’ll have ample time to make enough appearances in relief to be ready for the regular season.

“Obviously, I’ll probably be in the bullpen,” he said. “If I get in three or four games, I should be good to go.”

Peacock started last season in the rotation, making 15 starts, before shifting to the bullpen. He posted a 4.24 ERA in 15 starts and a 3.27 ERA in his eight relief outings. Peacock was on the injured list from June 28-July 18 with right shoulder soreness and Aug. 28-Sept. 22 with right shoulder discomfort.

Odds and ends

• Veteran outfielder Josh Reddick said he will get make his Grapefruit League debut perhaps as early as this weekend. Reddick is healed from offseason left shoulder surgery but came to camp, like Peacock, on a personal workout plan.

• Infielder Abraham Toro, who was scratched from the lineup Tuesday with an eye irritation, has been diagnosed with pink eye, Baker said, and wasn’t at the facility on Wednesday because it’s contagious. Toro is expected back Thursday.

Up next

Cristian Javier will make his second Grapefruit League start of the year when he faces the Nationals at 5:05 p.m. CT on Thursday, live on MLB.TV at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Nationals are the designated home team. Javier, ranked as the Astros’ No. 9 prospect last season by MLB Pipeline, threw two scoreless innings and struck out three batters on Saturday against the Nationals.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.