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After live BP, McCullers set for Grapefruit debut

Keuchel, McHugh also progressing toward game action
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., manager A.J. Hinch announced Sunday morning. McCullers, who's coming off an injury and has been on an individualized throwing program, threw 43 pitches in live batting practice on Saturday without any issues.

McCullers will be the second of the Astros' top four starting pitchers to get into game action this spring. Charlie Morton made his debut on Friday against the Mets and threw the ball exceptionally well. Hinch said he'd like McCullers to throw two innings.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., manager A.J. Hinch announced Sunday morning. McCullers, who's coming off an injury and has been on an individualized throwing program, threw 43 pitches in live batting practice on Saturday without any issues.

McCullers will be the second of the Astros' top four starting pitchers to get into game action this spring. Charlie Morton made his debut on Friday against the Mets and threw the ball exceptionally well. Hinch said he'd like McCullers to throw two innings.

View Full Game Coverage

Meanwhile, former American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who missed the final month of last season with shoulder inflammation, will throw a simulated game Tuesday and then could be ready for game action later in the week.

Then there's Collin McHugh, who has yet to throw off the mound this spring because of what he called a "dead arm." McHugh said Sunday he was feeling better and will throw off the mound for the first time on Monday, which would begin his progression into game action.

"He's been throwing long toss with no issues, so the next step is to get him off the mound and get the slope and see how he responds," Hinch said. "We've conquered the arm strength part of the process and now get more into pitching and everything that entails. It's a good next step for him. He's got to get off the mound to see where he's at."

McHugh would likely throw twice in the bullpen and have a couple of sessions of live batting practice before getting into a game.

"We'll play it by ear," McHugh said. "As long as I feel good, that's all that matters to me at this point, to feel good and work my way up to game strength."

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.