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McCullers to have elbow examined in Houston

Astros starter pitches 4 shutout innings before departing in LA
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

LOS ANGELES -- Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was scheduled to fly to Houston on Sunday to be examined by team doctors after he was removed from Saturday's 14-0 win over the Dodgers before throwing a pitch in the fifth inning with right elbow discomfort.

McCullers said he felt forearm/elbow tightness while pitching in the fourth inning and didn't swing the bat because of it when he batted in the top of the fifth. He threw some warmup pitches to begin the bottom of the fifth before summoning manager AJ Hinch and head athletic trainer Jeremiah Randall to the mound. He was taken out of the game after 60 pitches.

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LOS ANGELES -- Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was scheduled to fly to Houston on Sunday to be examined by team doctors after he was removed from Saturday's 14-0 win over the Dodgers before throwing a pitch in the fifth inning with right elbow discomfort.

McCullers said he felt forearm/elbow tightness while pitching in the fourth inning and didn't swing the bat because of it when he batted in the top of the fifth. He threw some warmup pitches to begin the bottom of the fifth before summoning manager AJ Hinch and head athletic trainer Jeremiah Randall to the mound. He was taken out of the game after 60 pitches.

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"I just felt some abnormal soreness and stiffness in my forearm area that I wouldn't feel during the game so that's what prompted me to kind of speak with AJ in between innings and in turn speak with Jeremiah as well, and that's what led to me exiting the game," McCullers said.

The Astros have been hit hard by the injury bug in the last few weeks, though their starting-pitching staff has been immune. Houston is the only team in the big leagues to use the same five starting pitchers all season.

Video: HOU@LAD: McCullers leaves game with elbow discomfort

McCullers said he couldn't have felt any better early in the game. He struck out three batters in the first and pitched around leadoff walks in the first and second and allowed a double in the third. He sent down all three batters he faced in the fourth but at one point in the inning was flexing his arm and grabbing his elbow in between batters.

"He came to me after his last inning and said he felt a little something and guys do that from time to time," Hinch said. "He goes up and takes his at-bat, he went out and had a few warmup pitches. We didn't really like the look. I told him to look in [the dugout] if he felt something was a little bit off. He did and I go out and take him out of the game."

McCullers, whose 126 innings this season are already a career high, was on the disabled list twice last season with lower back discomfort. He spent time on the DL in 2016 with right elbow discomfort and right shoulder soreness.

"This whole year, you know, whether or not my outings have been good or how I wanted them to be, my body has been responding so well, so that's been something I can lean back on," he said. "Tonight, the first couple of innings were going so well and for me to feel the stiffness in the fourth inning, it's frustrating.

"I think our team has done a great job this year dealing with these kinds of things and being resilient. We saw the way we bounced back from that stretch and the statement we've been making the past couple of days. I don't want the negativity to be focused on me. We played a great, great game and whatever happened with me is going to work itself out."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr.