WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Justin Verlander leaned on the back of a folding chair in front of his locker, Astros spring training cap perched just right on his head and his arms folded. He wasn’t completely crestfallen with the news that an MRI revealed a mild lat strain, but he certainly wasn’t happy about it, either. “Lats can be pretty difficult,” Verlander said. “Talking with doctors and looking at the scans, it’s definitely not worst-case scenario. Best-case scenario would be nothing. It’s probably somewhere in the middle of that. I don’t think any injury would be considered positive, but when you’ve got a bunch of things running through your head and having dealt with it before and having it probably be more serious then, I guess it’s positive to hear it’s not quite that bad.” Gerrit Cole is gone. Lance McCullers Jr. is coming off a season lost to injury. The other four starters listed on MLB.com’s Astros depth chart — Jose Urquidy, Austin Pruitt, Framber Valdez and Josh James — have combined to make only 34 MLB starts in their careers. But that’s not something he can focus on. That’s counterproductive. “This is one of those (injuries) you don’t want to push too much, because you can turn something that’s not a significant injury into something that is significant, and then you’re talking about missing months,” Verlander said. “This is one of those things that you can’t go full-throttle. Just really need to listen to yourself, listen to your body and be truthful with yourself. That’s one of the hardest things as an athlete, somebody like myself anyway, I know I’m going to push it, and this is one of those ones that you have to try not to. Just make sure you’re healed before you go forward 100 percent. MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 MLB teamsVerlander suffered the injury in his start Sunday. Instead of his scheduled four-inning stint, he was taken out after the second frame. His penultimate pitch of that inning — immediately preceding a 93 mph fastball, right where he’d been all game — was a slider that just didn’t quite feel right. Maybe even a mechanical issue on the delivery, he thought.But it tightened up between innings, and he called it a game. Verlander had spent most of spring dealing with a groin injury, so to leave just his second start of the spring was frustrating. And it was frustratingly familiar, too.In 2015, Verlander suffered a similar injury in spring training with the Tigers. He missed the first couple of months, returning in June and making 20 starts that year. Maybe, he hoped, that experience will help him this time. “I’m trying to be very truthful with myself through this process,” he said. “I’m trying to recall how I felt in ’15, and I definitely feel better this time than then.”General manager James Click said there was no timetable for his return. The plan now is to rest and reassess later. He said he didn’t know whether Verlander would be ready for Opening Day. MORE: Cardinals player abruptly leaves camp without telling teamVerlander had thoughts on that, though. “I would say it would probably take a miracle to be back by Opening Day,” he said. “But I don’t want to leave miracles off the table.” If Verlander is out for any significant amount of time, that’s bad news for the Astros. This is a team built to compete for a World Series, if everyone’s healthy. But a few injuries here and there — especially to the rotation, which is thin on experienced depth — and that equation changes.