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Justin Verlander to make his Astros debut tonight

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SEATTLE — Justin Verlander will make his debut for the Houston Astros in the second game of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.

Verlander was dealt to the Astros by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday in exchange for a trio of prospects: right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers.

In 28 starts for Detroit this year, the veteran right-hander went 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, his highest ERA since 2014.

“It’s a new experience for him because he’s doing a lot of firsts all over again,” Astros manage A.J. Hinch said. “He describes it as being a new kid in school again, and that’s exactly how he’s been. He’s been getting to know a lot of guys, there’s been a lot of conversations, sort of a quick acclimation to him. …

“New uniform, new catcher, new environment, new manager, new everything, same Justin Verlander.”

Verlander has been excellent against the Mariners in two starts this season, going 12 2/3 innings and posting a 2.12 ERA, allowing nine hits with three walks and 19 strikeouts. However, he has not recorded a decision against Seattle this season.

For his career, Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 22 starts against the Mariners.

“Hopefully we can bring a championship to a city that really could use something like that right now,” Verlander said, referring to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. “Hopefully I can be a part of that and we can give this city something to rally around.”

Verlander’s addition adds a somewhat unwelcome storyline in the series for Seattle manager Scott Servais.

“I would have been fine if he stayed in Detroit,” Servais said. “He’s a very good pitcher. He’s very accomplished. We’ve certainly seen him this year at the top of his game.”

Seattle’s Kyle Seager (7-for-19, two homers, eight RBIs) has enjoyed some success against the former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Mike Zunino (0-for-6) and Yonder Alonso (0-for-5) are still looking for their first hits against him.

Verlander’s Astros debut comes with the Mariners in the thick of the American League wild-card race. After Houston’s 6-2 victory on Monday, Seattle (69-69) is 2 1/2 games out in the second AL wild-card spot. Meanwhile, Houston (84-53) is comfortably leading the AL West by 13 1/2 games.

Even so, Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel said Monday that the big lead in the division only means the team can see the finish line. With the Astros having started a 10-game road trip on Monday, it is possible Houston could clinch before returning home.

“I know the clubhouse guys want us to celebrate on the road,” he quipped. “They don’t want to clean up the mess at home.”

Lefty Ariel Miranda (8-6, 4.85 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday for Seattle.

Miranda has pitched a career-high 150 1/3 innings in 2017, but he has struggled since July 1, going 1-2 with a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts during that span.

He has also struggled against Houston, going 0-2 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts this season. Miranda has a career record of 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA in five starts vs. Houston.

Astros slugger George Springer has feasted upon Miranda this season, going 4-for-13 (.308) with four homers, sporting an eye-popping 1.631 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Miranda has quieted fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel, who has gone 3-for-13 (.231) against his countryman.

Miguel Sano gained weight this offseason

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Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:

Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.

They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.

Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.

Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.

So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.