WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Barring any setbacks, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh should be ready for the start of the regular season. McHugh, who came down with "dead arm" early in camp, faced hitters for the first time Tuesday morning when he threw live batting practice on a back field
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Barring any setbacks, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh should be ready for the start of the regular season. McHugh, who came down with "dead arm" early in camp, faced hitters for the first time Tuesday morning when he threw live batting practice on a back field at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
McHugh, who's slotted to be the club's third starter, threw 28 pitches, featuring his entire four-pitch aresenal, in facing a group of hitters that included Jon Singleton, Ramon Laureano and Preston Tucker, who's recovering from shoulder surgery and started facing live pitching this week.
"There were some ups and downs as far as command goes, but that's kind of to be expected," McHugh said. "I got the juices and adrenaline flowing and I started to overthrow a little bit. I split it into two sections. The second time through, I was a little bit more controlled and was able to command the ball a little bit better and throw all four of my pitches. I think we should be ready for some game action soon."
The Astros' rotation is starting to take shape. Lance McCullers made his second start Tuesday, Joe Musgrove will throw again Wednesday, Dallas Keuchel on Friday and Charlie Morton on Sunday. McHugh could get his first start next Tuesday, giving him only a couple of more starts in Grapefruit League play before the season begins.
"I think three or four games should get us where we want to be pitch-count wise," McHugh said. "As a starting pitcher, you're looking for up and downs. You're looking for inning, rest, inning, rest. You can kind of mimic it in the back fields or whether you're able to get into the game. Whatever the case is, we'll manage it how we need to make sure I get those ups and downs and the pitch count up."
Right-hander Mike Fiers, who's battling with Musgrove for the fifth-starter spot, threw opposite of McHugh to test his sore right hamstring. He could return to game action in the next few days.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.