Astros’ Verlander pleased with effort in simulated game

Despite being scratched from his first Grapefruit League start of the season, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander seemed fine with throwing two innings in a simulated game Thursday at West Palm Beach, Fla.During a bullpen session earlier this week, the right-hander experienced some slight groin discomfort in his right leg and “wanted to be in a little more controlled environment” on Thursday instead of starting against Max Scherzer and the world champion Washington Nationals.Verlander threw about 30 pitches at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches while facing Astros outfielder Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Taylor Jones and Jeremy Pena.According to the Houston Chronicle, Verlander said the simulation effort “went about as good as I could have hoped.”He is scheduled to make that delayed Grapefruit League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla.