Astros ace Verlander placed on IL with calf injury

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, a leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, has been placed on the injured list with a right calf injury.

The team announced the move Tuesday and said that an MRI done on the calf Monday revealed fascial disruption, but no muscle fiber disruption.

Verlander said he isn’t sure of a timetable for his return but doesn’t expect to be out too long.

“I feel like I really kind of dodged a bullet here where the muscle isn’t actually involved,” Verlander said. “It’s the fascia, which I feel pretty fortunate about because I didn’t realize how serious even a very minor muscle calf injury can be. If that were to happen, we’d be having a much different conversation.”

Verlander’s stint on the injured list is retroactive to Monday. He was injured in his start Sunday while going to cover first base during a rundown in the third inning against the Orioles.

General manager James Click said they should have a better idea of how long he’ll be out in the next couple of days.

“We’ll know a lot more about the return timeline once we get the body through the first 48 to 72 hours to heal,” Click said. “But our hope and our expectation is that this should be relatively short-term.”

Verlander said he was relieved when he learned that it wasn’t a major injury because he felt a pop as he took off to run on the play. But two days later he’s already feeling better.

“It got pretty sore,” he said. “It is still sore. I’m laying off of it for a few days. Based on what all of the doctors have said … that fascia heals pretty quickly. So I’m just trying to give it its time to heal before I push it.”

The right-hander lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.84 by throwing three scoreless innings before his exit Sunday.

The 39-year-old Verlander returned this season after missing almost two seasons following Tommy John surgery. Entering Sunday’s matchup with the Orioles, he was 8-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Verlander’s 16 wins are tied with Atlanta’s Kyle Wright and Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin for most in the majors.

The injury has caused Verlander to limp a bit as he moves around the house, something that his 3-year-old daughter Genevieve has noticed. Genevieve, whose mother is Verlander’s wife and supermodel Kate Upton, has been talking to dad about boo boos after scraping her knee while riding a bike recently.

“She asked me if I have a boo-boo,” Verlander said. “And the only thing she’s having a hard time understanding is that the boo-boo’s underneath my skin … so she’s like: ‘It’s like my boo-boo, but on the inside.’ It’s cute and fun trying to explain it to her.”

Also on Tuesday, Houston recalled right-hander Brandon Bielak from Triple-A Sugar Land and optioned outfielder Jake Meyers there. The Astros also recalled utility player J.J. Matijevic from Sugar Land and added right-hander Hunter Brown to the taxi squad from Sugar Land.

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