Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws during the first inning...

Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws during the first inning of a spring training game against the Astros on March 10 in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Justin Verlander’s eventful five innings in a 3-3 exhibition tie with the Marlins on Sunday included a pair of batted balls off his legs — bringing his total to three over the past week and a half.

This time, the first was off the back of his right knee. The other got his left ankle. After each, manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and an athletic trainer visited the mound to check on him. He remained in the game after throwing practice pitches, seemingly annoyed that it somehow happened again more than he was in pain.

“My foot went numb for a hot second, but then came back and was all right,” Verlander said of the first comebacker. “You never want to deal with body inflammation like that when you don’t have to. My left calf was still bugging me from when I got hit the first time [March 15], so now it’s just a bunch of extra inflammation that I have to deal with. So we’ll be working hard to try to flush that out.”

Verlander said his mechanics were “all over the place” as he gave up three runs, eight hits and four walks to a lineup of Miami minor-leaguers. He also had three strikeouts.

His average fastball velocity was 92.3 mph. Last year, it was 95.0. “You see that a lot in spring,” Showalter said of the velocity.

Verlander’s first Mets start is set for Saturday against the Marlins, the third game of the season. Team officials set it up that way in part so he would pitch in the home opener, also against Miami, which he called “an honor” and “something I’m very much looking forward to.”

The Mets chose Max Scherzer for the Opening Day start instead of Verlander.

“Some of my most enjoyable Opening Days were ones I didn’t pitch,” Verlander said. “You get to sit back and relax — not really relax, but enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to watching Max take the ball, quite honestly. A Hall of Fame pitcher on Opening Day, and I get to sit in the dugout and watch him pitch.”

Even though Verlander will face the Marlins in each of his first two outings, the Mets chose to have him face them on Sunday for a variety of reasons. Among them, per Showalter: the back fields are in bad shape because there has been so little rain; the minor-league game, which was the other option, was at noon, which was early; Verlander hasn’t played with the Mets’ first-stringers much, and the Marlins’ lineup did not include hitters he’ll face in the next couple of weeks.

Almost there

Another round of cuts Sunday left about one Mets roster opening publicly uncertain: DH/first baseman/occasional outfielder Darin Ruf versus speedy outfielder Tim Locastro for the last spot on the bench.

Of the many variables the Mets will consider, one appears to be no longer a factor: Ruf’s right wrist. He dealt with arthritis early in camp but it hasn’t been a problem lately, Showalter said. “His wrist is fine,” he said. “He hasn’t been on the [injury] report in a long time. I think the injection [of cortisone in mid-February] cleared that up.”

In the bullpen, John Curtiss, Stephen Nogosek and Dennis Santana are the most likely choices. Elieser Hernandez is the other healthy reliever in camp, but Showalter said he views him more as starting pitching depth than a bullpen option.

The Mets sent infielder Danny Mendick plus pitchers Jeff Brigham, T.J. McFarland and Jimmy Yacabonis to minor-league camp.

Extra bases

Brandon Nimmo played a full game for the first time all spring training .  .  . The Mets finished Grapefruit League play with a 10-14-4 record. “Everybody is ready to go,” Showalter said. “We’re at that point now.” . . . Like their exhibition finale against Miami, the Mets’ intrasquad scrimmage Monday is scheduled for 4 p.m. to help players adjust to the schedule they’ll have on Opening Day (and in the third game of the season).

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