Notes: Tucker to IL with illness; McCullers
HOUSTON -- Before the Astros’ series finale against the Rangers on Wednesday, outfielder Kyle Tucker was placed on the injured list because of health and safety protocols. Infielder Abraham Toro was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land.
“Hopefully, it’s a short-term thing and he’s back very soon,” general manager James Click said of Tucker. “We’re not concerned, but we’ve got to go through the protocols for MLB.”
Tucker was not in the lineup on Tuesday. Shortly before the Astros announced Tucker was on the IL on Wednesday, manager Dusty Baker said Tucker was saddled with “general illness -- he’s not feeling well at all.”
Click said recent medical reports indicate Tucker is “very much on the mend.”
“We just have to make sure he’s 100%, because we don’t want to put him out there until he’s fully ready,” Click said.
The 24-year-old Tucker was on a tear before falling ill. Over his past 15 games, the outfielder is hitting .358 (24-for-67) with three homers and 15 RBIs.
Changing it up
Lance McCullers Jr.’s decision to go with mostly a fastball-changeup combination his first time through the Rangers’ order on Tuesday turned out to be a sound strategy, given the Rangers didn’t have much luck off any particular pitch until the fourth inning. Until then, the Rangers managed only an infield single off McCullers, who was making his first start in three weeks following a stint on the IL with a sore shoulder.
McCullers had a couple of reasons for sticking with those two pitches and saving his signature curveball for later. One, this was his third start in a row against the Rangers, and in the prior outing, they were staying on top of his breaking stuff. So he figured he would need to mix it up a little bit this time.
And also, he had what he described as a “little finger issue” with his breaking ball when he was warming up for this start, so in that respect, he turned to the changeup out of necessity.
“If my changeup hadn’t been there, I don’t know how long I would have lasted,” McCullers said.
College coaching seems to be all rage these days for retired baseball players -- and, more specifically retired Astros players.
Three former Astros have nabbed head college baseball coaching jobs in the past three weeks. It began with former All-Star Lance Berkman, who on May 31 was named head coach of Houston Baptist University’s baseball team. Berkman, who also answers to “Big Puma,” played 15 years in the big leagues, including 12 for the Astros from 1999-2010.
Kirk Saarloos, a former right-hander for the Astros whose claim to fame is that he was part of the six-pitcher no-hitter against the Yankees on June 11, 2003, was named head baseball coach at Texas Christian University on Tuesday.