Astros finally get some positive injury news with Justin Verlander update

So you're telling us there's a chance?

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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The optimism at the Houston Astros' spring training complex in West Palm Beach evaporated almost as soon as pitchers and catchers reported last week. One of the first notes upon the team's arrival in Florida was Justin Verlander's questionable health.

Verlander, 41, was slowed by a shoulder injury earlier this spring that has delayed the right-hander's spring debut. The question on the minds of most Astros fans is whether or not the three-time Cy Young Award winner will be on the hill for Houston's first game of the season.

Over the weekend, Verlander was back on the mound for a bullpen session and reportedly threw 60 pitches. The next step will be live batting practice, and if all goes well, Verlander could be on the mound for a Grapefruit League game soon.

Astros finally get some positive injury news with Justin Verlander update

Astros manager Joe Espada was in attendance for Verlander's bullpen session and liked what he saw. Espada told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, “I saw an upbeat J.V., super positive, really liked the way he felt. Even from pitch No. 1 to pitch 60, he felt really good.”

The Astros rotation is a bit thin at the moment. With Verlander behind schedule and J.P. France suffering a setback this spring, Espada may be forced to go into the season with one of Ronel Blanco or Spencer Arrighetti occupying the fifth spot in the starting rotation as a result.

Astros fans, of course, would love for Verlander to find his way back to the mound in time to pitch on Opening Day. The Astros will welcome the AL East favorites and bitter rival, the New York Yankees, to Minute Maid Park on March 28.

For now, Houston is likely looking at Framber Valdez taking the ball on Opening Day. But there's still over three weeks left for Verlander to get into game shape. If the former MVP can get back on the bump for at least two Grapefruit League contests this spring, the Astros fanbase will be feeling good about Verlander's chances to open the season on the active roster rather than the injured list.

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