Mets’ Justin Verlander has date for rehab start, will likely return in early May

Justin Verlander won’t make his Mets debut as soon as he hoped, but he has a schedule set for his two final steps before returning — a live batting practice session and a rehab start.

Verlander had his second bullpen session in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday, and manager Buck Showalter said it went well. They are moving him to a five-day plan for his eventual return.

“He’ll pitch live BP (batting practice) next,” Showalter said. “Get him slotted into a five-day thing as soon as possible.”

With that roadmap and this new timetable, Verlander will pitch a live batting practice session on Sunday, with a rehab start next Friday.

That means Verlander will likely miss the Mets’ series against the Atlanta Braves the weekend of April 28 and not make his first start of the season in early May.

But Showalter says plans can change, and they are listening to what Verlander needs.

“We’re kinda going off of what he’s telling us and what he’s feeling, but so far so good,” he said.

The news comes a little more than a week after the 40-year-old was optimistic about joining his team before the end of the month.

“I think that’s very reasonable, yes,” Verlander said on the prospect of returning by the end of April. “We haven’t put a time frame on it, but yeah I would definitely suspect that that would be a very slow build from here.”

Verlander suffered a low-grade teres major strain in spring training and has been on the IL since the season began.

The Mets can certainly use Verlander.

Carlos Carrasco was placed on the IL with right elbow inflammation before Tuesday’s game — a few days after Max Scherzer had his start pushed from Sunday to Wednesday after he experienced soreness near his scapula after his last outing.

When asked if he had any trepidation about Scherzer pitching on Wednesday, Showalter was cautiously optimistic.

“You never know until you get out there in the heat of battle,” Showalter said. “I don’t have any indication that he won’t be OK.”

Despite the injuries to the rotation, the Mets are in the midst of a five-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s game and hold a 11-6 record.