Astros pitchers get work in despite storms

Cole, McHugh forced to throw in batting cage due to soggy conditions

March 20th, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With the back field at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches pretty much under water for more than a day because of steady rainfall, the Astros had to get creative with their pitching plans on Wednesday. Starters and Collin McHugh attempted to throw a simulated game, but were forced to throw in the batting cage instead.

Relief pitchers , and dodged the rain showers long enough to throw a few pitches, simulating an inning of work. Cole was scheduled to start Tuesday’s game against the Phillies that was rained out.

“I got some good work in,” Cole said. “From the data we got on the field, everything seemed to be pretty good, and I was able to get some good feedback from a lot of the other guys that were kind of surrounding the cage and watching me pitch.”

Cole said he will try to throw 85-90 pitches in his final Grapefruit League start on Sunday. He’s scheduled to pitch the Astros’ second regular-season game, March 29 at the Rays.

“I just tried to get a little bit of volume to both be in shape for the next start on Sunday, and then alleviate the need for a bullpen in the next few days,” said Cole, who threw 47 pitches.

Meanwhile, McHugh threw five pitches on a back field before the rain drove him into the batting cage to finish. He simulated four innings, throwing about 65-70 pitches.

“The volume is creeping up, which is what you want at this time,” he said.

Fresh arms see game action
In the Astros’ 2-1 win over the visiting Yankees on Wednesday, manager AJ Hinch got a look at three arms he hadn’t seen much this spring in relievers Josh James, Will Harris and Dean Deetz, who was making his Grapefruit League debut (right shoulder injury).

James, who was hampered by a right quad strain early in camp, threw 1 1/3 innings in only his second outing of the spring. He came to camp in competition for the fifth rotation spot but will instead begin the regular season in the bullpen. James inherited a runner with two outs in the fifth and stranded him before pitching a scoreless sixth.

“I was glad we were able to get him the one-plus outing,” Hinch said. “It helped that he could get up and down twice, which is important. The stuff is really good ... The hitters’ reaction to the pitches were telling me his stuff was pretty good. He looks completely healthy, which is important. We’re having an abbreviated spring for him, so it’s important for him to have some good outings as we close in on the end of spring.”

Harris, in only his fourth outing of the spring, pitched a scoreless seventh with one strikeout.

“He’s working mechanically to try to control his posture and shoulder tilt,” Hinch said. “I thought his ball had a little more life to it today. He was able to pitch up in the strike zone effectively, and once he finds his command for his breaking ball, you’re going to see it take off, as expected, once the season starts.”

Deetz finally got into a game this spring, walking one batter in one scoreless inning. He’ll begin the season as a reliever in the Minor Leagues.

“He felt good, his velocity was up, his slider was good,” Hinch said. “His command looked like his first outing, but he’s a guy that is going to be important for us to get in the mix and get him up and running and get him ready for the season, wherever that’s going to be.”

Up next
Pitching prospect Corbin Martin will come over from Minor League camp and start the Astros' 12:05 p.m. CT Thursday game against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman is expected to be one of the few regulars in the lineup for Houston.