Verlander has lat strain, unlikely to be ready for opener

By CHUCK KING

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Houston ace Justin Verlander has a mild strain of a back muscle and said it would “probably take a miracle” for him to pitch on opening day at home against the Angels on March 26. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was hurt on his second-to-last pitch in Sunday’s exhibition game against the New York Mets. He had an MRI on Monday and was diagnosed with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. There is not a timetable for his return. Verlander had a siimilar lat injury during spring training in 2015 and did not make his season debut until June 13.