PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Anthony Gose experiment is over.
The Astros essentially cut ties with the former big league outfielder on Monday after he had just one Grapefruit League outing, placing him on outright waivers. If he clears waivers, he'll be offered back to the Rangers for $50,000, which is half of what the Astros paid Texas for taking him in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
Gose, who arrived at camp saying he could throw 100 mph with a "curveball from hell," walked all three batters he faced in his first Spring Training outing, on Saturday against the Nationals. The lefty's first pitch hit 98 mph, but he sat around 95-97 and couldn't throw strikes.
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As a Rule 5 pick, Gose would have had to be on the Astros' 25-man roster for the entire season, and it was clear that wasn't going to happen. The Rangers had signed him to a Minor League deal in November as an outfielder/pitcher, and the Astros took him as a pitcher with hopes they could catch lightning in a bottle.
Gose made 11 relief appearances with Class A Lakeland last year, recording 14 strikeouts against six walks and a .189 opponents' batting average. He has appeared in 372 career big league games as an outfielder with the Blue Jays (2012-14) and Tigers (2015-16), and is a .240 career hitter.
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Command the key for McHugh
After allowing three runs (two earned) in three innings in Tuesday's 9-5 loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie, veteran right-hander Collin McHugh said he is working on command of his fastball. McHugh said he was trying to throw quality strikes in certain counts and made a few mistakes.
"Overall, we made some progress," McHugh said. "At this point in the spring, you have to kind of be an honest evaluator and say, 'Where am I? What are the things I need to work on? What are the things I need to get better at?' At the same time, you're getting closer to the actual games, so you want to make sure you're sharpening the things you already do well."
McHugh continues to fine-tune the slider he started throwing last year, which, along with his curveball, would give him another effective breaking pitch.
"I'm sure I'll find more spots for it," he said. "The more comfortable you get with it, the more confident you're going to be throwing it in games. I'm starting to work it backdoor -- throw some to lefties and some to righties. Just kind of see what guys' reactions are to it. We did some really good things with that today in terms of early in the count and throwing it for strikes. I think it will be a weapon for us."
The battle for the starting first-base job to replace the injured Yuli Gurriel continues to be a competition between Tyler White, J.D. Davis and A.J. Reed, who homered for the second game in a row in the Astros' 10-5 win over the Nationals in West Palm Beach.
Davis went 3-for-4 in the Astros' loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie, raising his spring average to .455. White started at second base in that game and went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .188. Davis, an outfielder, is playing some first this spring to increase his versatility.
"He is helping his case," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The question for him is how comfortable he can get at first base and left field to make himself more versatile. Whitey moves around the field a little bit; Reed can get a little bit hot with the home runs lately. I think that race is going to come down to the final decision. They're all making their case known."
Gurriel (surgery on left hand) is expected to be out until mid-April.
"He continues to get to pitches and put some good swings on it. Man, this guy can really hit. He's got great balance in the batter's box. Obviously, when he gets a pitch to hit, he doesn't miss too many of them. It's an impressive showing." -- Hinch, on outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who launched a mammoth homer to right field off the Mets' Hansel Robles in a 9-5 loss. That's his team-high fourth homer of the spring
Right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his third start of the spring when the Astros face the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Cole, acquired in a trade with the Pirates in January, has allowed two hits and one run while striking out four batters in five innings in Grapefruit League play.