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Verlander, Gray and Giolito all in question for opening day after injuries hit starting pitchers

The news hit one after another on Tuesday. Three big-name right-handed starting pitchers all dealing with injuries that could cause each to miss the start of the regular season – and potentially more.

Houston’s Justin Verlander, St. Louis’ Sonny Gray and Boston’s Lucas Giolito are all dealing with various injuries.

Verlander will start the season on the injured list after being slowed by inflammation in his pitching shoulder during the offseason. Gray has a hamstring strain sustained Monday. And Giolito reported discomfort in his pitching elbow following last week’s start in which he was roughed up.

“We’re obviously concerned. Not a good day for us,” Boston manager Alex Cora told reporters in Florida.

Verlander is the biggest name of the three, although his situation appears to be more of a delay than a long-term concern. Astros manager Joe Espada said Tuesday the 41-year-old Verlander hasn’t suffered any setbacks or soreness following bullpen sessions but needs more time to become game ready.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner is expected to throw in the bullpen again on Friday but has yet to face hitters. But a delay to the start of the season could jeopardize his conditional $35 million option for 2025.

Giolito will have additional exams to determine the severity of his injury, but there’s worry it could be a long-term issue.

Giolito signed a $38.5 million, two-year deal with the Red Sox this offseason. The 29-year-old is coming off a 2023 season where he gave up a league-high 41 home runs and had a 4.88 ERA pitching for the White Sox, Angels and Guardians.

Gray may be the one of the three that has a chance to make it back for opening day, which he was slated to start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 28.

Gray left his start Monday against Washington after 20 pitches. The Cardinals initially said Gray had tightness in his hamstring, and an MRI revealed the strain.

Following their poorest season since 1995, the Cardinals gave Gray a $75 million, three-year contract in November to anchor a revamped rotation. Because the strain is mild, all parties are holding out hope Gray can make it back by the opener.

“If it’s in the cards for me to still do that, then obviously I’m going to do everything in my power to make that happen,” Gray said Tuesday.

GOOD NEWS FOR ATLANTA

National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. is expected to be ready for opening day with the Atlanta Braves after a more thorough examination of his sore right knee found no serious issues.

Acuña left the Braves’ spring training site in Florida to be examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Monday night.

The team announced Tuesday that ElAttrache found only irritation in the meniscus of his right knee. Acuña will be able to gradually increase his baseball activities and is expected to be cleared to play by the time the Braves open the regular season at Philadelphia on March 28.

TREVINO GETTING CLOSER

Yankees catcher Jose Trevino says he will start playing in games soon after being sidelined by a calf injury that occurred a couple weeks before the start of spring training.

“Super excited,” Trevino said.

The 31-year-old Trevino is also coming back from a tear in his right wrist that limited him to 55 games last season. He last played on July 17.

Trevino had been playing with the wrist injury last season before he was shut down. He was unsure of when he got hurt other than he started feeling pain during spring training.

Trevino made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in 2022 when he hit .248 with a career-high 11 homers and 43 RBIs in 115 games after being acquired from Texas late in spring training.