Rotation depth has become a big story in Houston, as the Astros have lost Jose Urquidy until roughly the All-Star break due to shoulder discomfort and Luis Garcia for the whole season due to Tommy John surgery. This makes Lance McCullers Jr.’s recovery from a forearm strain all the more important to the Astros’ plans, yet it still isn’t clear exactly when the right-hander might be able to return. Manager Dusty Baker told the Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner and other reporters that he is “not sure exactly when” McCullers might face live batters as part of his rehab, “but we just hope he doesn’t have any setbacks that would take him backwards.”
Because McCullers’ injury took place so early in Spring Training, it’s been a long process for the righty in both getting healthy and then rebuilding his arm strength. McCullers told Lerner and company that he threw around 35 pitches as part of a bullpen session today, tossing three different pitches with plans to add a cutter during his next bullpen, tentatively slated for Tuesday. McCullers has yet to throw any off-speed pitchers off a mound, but that next step might come next weekend, as he is already throwing his off-speed repertoire while working on flat ground. Though the Astros can retroactively shift McCullers to the 60-day injured list if necessary, his initial placement on the 15-day IL provided an early indication that the club hopes he can return before the end of May.
More from around the AL West…
- Seth Brown began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas today, Athletics manager Mark Kotsay told reporters (including Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle). Brown was sidelined with a left oblique strain on April 9 and was given a rough recovery timeline of four to six weeks. Since Kotsay said Brown will need at least 15-20 plate appearances in Vegas, it’ll still be at least a few days before Brown might rejoin Oakland’s lineup, though it looks like he’ll avoid the higher end of his initial rehab projection. Brown was off to a pretty slow start in 2023, but he hit 45 home runs with a .224/.294/.457 slash line over 862 plate appearances in 2021-22.
- X-rays were negative on Josh H. Smith’s left foot after he was hit by a pitch in today’s game. Smith remained in action for another inning before being replaced in left field, though it appears as though he avoided a worst-case scenario. Smith has been a productive and versatile part-time bat for the Rangers, hitting .210/.388/.355 (122 wRC+) over 81 PA this season while seeing time as a left fielder, shortstop, and third baseman.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Smith, Brown & McCullers, we have your back Alabama
Since when is a player considered a versatile and productive part-time bat when he’s hitting .210?
OBP of .388 is pretty productive.
There’s no use in explaining it to him. The game has passed these old-timers by long ago.
@Hammerin..You forgot my fries brain dead. I asked for fries with my Big Mac.
Cory in Texas
What’s the Athletics OPS as it compares to the Rangers (I think they were the founders of this methodology).
If those walks would have been singles, his SLG and OPS would be higher. And someone in front of him may have taken an extra base. Maybe, just maybe, someone might have scored from second.
There’s a difference between taking a walk and hoping you walk. When he swings, not much happens
deGrom Texas Ranger
The guy has gotten hit quite a bit. I remember one season in little league I got hit about 10 times in 16 games and made contact fewer times that year. I can relate to that. It’s all luck at the MLB level, but he has been an on base machine in the minor leagues.
The Astros Front Office & Dusty Baker can be so opaque and nebulous about player injuries for some reason. Always hemming and hawing and backtracking. For what purpose?? Is it to mislead other clubs who are wondering when the Astros will be at full speed ?? It obviously has no purpose when it comes to letting fans know what is going on. If I was a journalist covering the Astros I would go straight to the source and try to contact the player for an answer. Reach out on social media or something. Screw the disinformation merchants.
I think the whole Astros organization, including the players, is under a gag order on injuries. It tics me off too, but I don’t think anybody really knows with McCullers. At this point I’d be happy to see him post a good 4-6 good weeks at the end of the season and to stay healthy throughout the playoffs.
Astros are the worst hitting team in mlb.
Thomas E Snyder
That’s why they are anxious to get McCullers back.
Imagine how dominating they will be when they hit like they are capable of and get Altuve back.