Houston Astros starter Lance McCullers is by all accounts on track to return to the major league club in the early part of the season. McCullers, 22, is dealing with shoulder soreness that started during Spring Training.
Thursday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch updated the media on the young flame-throwers status. Hinch noted that McCullers had tossed a live batting practice in Kissimmee on Thursday.
McCullers tossed for about ten minutes, throwing 30-35 pitches, and was able to use all of his pitches. Earlier this month McCullers was shut down with "sore right shoulder" and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
For the Astros, everything rehab wise seems to be going according to plan.
"His next step will be a bullpen in New York," Hinch said, "he's going to come for opening day, I've invited him to participate in the opening day festivities then he'll head back to Kissimmee and continue with some innings in a game in extended spring training."
Still no hard date on when the Astros are looking for him to return, but it does seem sooner rather than later. McCullers will likely head to either Double-A or Triple-A for a start or two before rejoining the team.
During spring training it was learned that the Astros would monitor the young rightie's innings in the upcoming season. The upfront DL stint could go a long way in helping the team lessen the innings strain and save his arm at the start the season.