WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In his second start of the spring, Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole worked up to 53 pitches (33 strikes) in three innings in Friday's 7-7 tie against the Mets. He allowed two hits and a run, but also walked a pair and hit a batter while
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In his second start of the spring, Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole worked up to 53 pitches (33 strikes) in three innings in Friday's 7-7 tie against the Mets. He allowed two hits and a run, but also walked a pair and hit a batter while striking out two. Cole also hit 100 mph on his 21st pitch of the game, according to the scoreboard reading.
"I just tried to get the feel for the [breaking] pitches and tried to make sure the shape was good and tried to put myself in a couple of opportunities to locate them. ... Just trying to get familiar with [catcher Brian McCann] behind the dish," said Cole, who worked with McCann for the first time in a game.
Astros discuss pace-of-play initiatives
Hinch and members of his coaching staff met with Major League Baseball chief baseball officer Joe Torre and senior vice president of baseball operations Peter Woodfork on Friday to discuss MLB's pace-of-play initiatives for 2018 that include limits on mound visits.
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"We're inching towards having a full understanding what that's all about and what we need to know going into the season," Hinch said. "Because we're getting a late start on stuff like this, it's still a work in progress until the kinks get ironed out. Umpires are learning it, we're learning it, players are learning it. We're doing it in an environment that's mostly like the regular season, but it's still not the regular season. We'll adapt in time."
The one thing Hinch wanted clarified is what constitutes a mound visit and what constitutes the pitcher and catcher being crossed up on signs. If a team is out of mound visits, the umpire will have discretion to grant a brief visit at the catcher's request if a cross-up has occurred between the pitcher and catcher.
"Any time there are rule changes or rule additions, the gray area is the toughest to define," Hinch said.
Tony Sipp appears to have the leg up on the final bullpen spot considering how well he's thrown this spring. Sipp, the veteran lefty, has two spotless outings under his belt. The other seven spots in the bullpen are set: Ken Giles, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh, assuming the members of the starting rotation stay healthy.
"The way Tony Sipp has thrown the ball so far in camp is encouraging, which doesn't necessarily lock everything up," Hinch said. "At full health, if he's throwing the ball well and shows the signs he can help the bullpen, it's a pretty tough team to make when you think of a couple of starters [Peacock and McHugh] making the 'pen."
Among the others competing for the final bullpen spot are James Hoyt, Player Page for Buddy Boshers, Francis Martes, David Paulino and Reymin Guduan.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel, who underwent surgery Wednesday in Houston to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, is expected back in camp early next week.
Justin Verlander makes his second start of the spring in Saturday's 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Astros are the designated home team in a game that can be seen live on MLB.TV. Verlander struck out four in two innings in his Grapefruit League debut Monday.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.