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Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander is behind schedule this spring because of a shoulder issue, and presently his status for Opening Day is unclear. 

Verlander, who turns 41 next week, revealed the news on Wednesday to reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "I'm a little bit behind schedule now," Verlander said. "I had a little hiccup early on that's resolved itself, but I have to be really cautious at how I'm building up. I guess my body doesn't respond the same at 40 as it did at 25. I'm a couple of weeks behind."

Verlander, who was acquired from the Mets leading up to last year's trade deadline, is expected to front a Houston rotation that also includes Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. The Astros are also without starters Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) and Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow procedure) until around the middle of the upcoming season. 

The future Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young winner is coming off a 2023 season for the Mets and Astros in which he pitched to a 3.22 ERA and a 3.20 K/BB ratio in 162 1/3 innings. Verlander's first start of 2023 was delayed by more than a month because of a upper back/shoulder issue, but it's not known whether his current issue is similar in nature. 

Verlander is under contract for 2024 at a salary of $43.3 million, $25 million of which will be paid by the Mets. Verlander's deal also includes a $35 million option for 2025 that vests automatically if he reaches 140 innings pitched this season. The Mets will also pay a substantial portion of that 2025 contract should the option vest.