Mets pitcher Justin Verlander during a spring training workout, Friday...

Mets pitcher Justin Verlander during a spring training workout, Friday Feb. 17, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

MIAMI — Justin Verlander, the Mets’ marquee offseason addition and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is hurt.

The Mets will put him on the 15-day injured list with a strain in a muscle in his right armpit area, they announced Thursday afternoon, about two hours before they opened the season against the Marlins.

Tylor Megill, demoted to Triple-A Syracuse on Monday, will take Verlander’s spot in the rotation, including Saturday in Miami and next Thursday in the home opener (also against the Marlins).

General manager Billy Eppler and Verlander declined to approximate how long Verlander might be out but emphasized the minimal nature of the injury.

Verlander is due for another MRI in a week, at which point the Mets expect to have a better sense of how long they’ll be without him. In the meantime, he will continue to play “light catch” after a couple of days off, Verlander said, evidence that this — a low-grade strain of his teres major — isn’t a big deal.

“It feels like crap. Especially personally,” he said. “Not the way I wanted my Mets tenure to start, that’s for sure. I put in a ton of work to not have things like this happen.

“We are athletes, and unfortunately when you’re working at a high level of intensity, stuff like this does come along. I’m just very thankful that it’s as minor as it is. But it still doesn’t subtract from how I feel. I take a lot of pride and I love pitching. I just want to be out there. And to not be able to do that, especially with a new team and a new fan base, it doesn’t feel great.”


Signed to a two-year, $86.7 million contract in the offseason, Verlander felt the discomfort leading up to and during his last spring training start — when his fastball velocity was well below his mid-90s norm — but figured it was mere March soreness.

When he “still felt just a teeny bit of something,” as he phrased it, during his bullpen session Wednesday, he told team officials. He was worried it was a problem with his lat, which he has experienced in the past and feared dealing with again.

They sent him for an MRI on Thursday morning. Multiple doctors offered the same diagnosis.

“In talking with a couple doctors, this isn’t obviously best-case scenario,” Verlander said. “Best-case would’ve been hey, there’s nothing there and you’re just sore. But I would think this is second-best case . . . In all this, the great news was that the doctor said my shoulder looks like that of a 20-year-old. That’s always nice to hear as a 40-year-old.”

Eppler said: “I’m just going to play this thing week-to-week, or at least for the first week.”

Verlander said if this happened later in the year, he might pitch through it — and if it were the playoffs, he definitely would pitch through it.

“The beginning of the season, coming off spring training, it makes too much sense to not push it right now and risk three months when it would be much, much, much, much, much [less],” he said.

Verlander joins Edwin Diaz (knee surgery) and Jose Quintana (rib surgery) as significant players on the IL.

“It seems like it piled up a little bit at the very beginning of this season,” Verlander said. “But maybe we’re getting it all out of the way now. I’m an eternal optimist.”

Another bullpen hit

Righthanded reliever Bryce Montes de Oca will miss the entire season after he wound up having Tommy John surgery (his second) on Wednesday.

Originally diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right elbow, Montes de Oca had the operation to remove bone chips from the elbow. Once in there, doctors determined his ulnar collateral ligament was “insufficient,” according to the Mets, and needed to be repaired.

“We knew that was the potential,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We hoped that we got better news than that, but it didn’t work out that way. Get it done and get him on the way to recovery.”

Extra bases

Quintana on pitching this year: “I’m going to be back at some point this year. I don’t know what day yet, but I’m going to be back.” . . . Upon making the team, Tim Locastro switched his uniform number from 83 to 26 . . . Among the Mets put on the IL to begin the season: Commack native Stephen Ridings (right lat strain). He is healthy now, but the Mets brought him along slowly during spring training after he suffered that injury in September.

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