Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. began playing catch yesterday, and threw 30 times per reporters including the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome. In addition, Rome also notes that slugger Yordan Alvarez hit soft toss today as he builds toward game action after being delayed this spring by hand soreness.
These positive health updates are excellent news for the Astros. Alvarez is among the very best hitters in all of baseball, and any time missed by the slugger would surely be a massive blow to the Astros offense as they attempt to win a second straight World Series following their 2022 championship run. McCullers, meanwhile, is expected to begin the season on the injured list, but a swift return to action would be a major boon for Houston, which lacks much starting depth beyond unproven prospects and Brandon Bielak, who is currently slated for a long relief role in the big league bullpen.
More from around the American League…
- Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, that first baseman Anthony Rizzo is dealing with a “cranky” back, though Rizzo is expected to return to game action Tuesday. Rizzo, who will play this season at age 33, has battled back injuries throughout his career and has had to sit more frequently in recent years to manage the ailment. He underwent an epidural last September due to the lingering issue, though it appears that procedure has not completely solved his struggles. Despite his occasional injury woes, Rizzo has been among the most consistent bats in the league for over a decade now, posting above average marks by measure of wRC+ in eleven straight seasons while playing at least 80% of his club’s games since the beginning of the 2013 season.
- Justin Turner was among the bigger acquisitions for the Red Sox this offseason, and the veteran seems to be progressing well after getting hit in the face with a pitch last week. Turner told reporters, including MLB.com’s Ian Browne, that he had his stitches removed today and is set to return to baseball activities ahead of the schedule provided by manager Alex Cora this past Wednesday. Turner, 38, is expected to primarily play DH for the Red Sox when he returns to action, which Turner expects to be as soon as Opening Day. The longtime Dodgers was a late bloomer, having his breakout season at age 29 in Los Angeles, but since then has been a stable bat with a well above average OPS of .866 in 1,075 games since the start of the 2014 season.