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Correa, McCullers closer to rejoining Astros

SS looks 'great,' will take BP on field Tuesday; righty throws simulated game
Special to MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Injured shortstop Carlos Correa (thumb) and starter Lance McCullers Jr. (back) each took positive steps Sunday toward rejoining the Astros after extended stays on the disabled list.

Correa took batting practice off a high-speed pitching machine Sunday for the first time since tearing a thumb ligament July 17. He also fielded grounders again. Houston manager A.J. Hinch said the All-Star shortstop would take batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time, adding that the team would consider sending him on a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.

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HOUSTON -- Injured shortstop Carlos Correa (thumb) and starter Lance McCullers Jr. (back) each took positive steps Sunday toward rejoining the Astros after extended stays on the disabled list.

Correa took batting practice off a high-speed pitching machine Sunday for the first time since tearing a thumb ligament July 17. He also fielded grounders again. Houston manager A.J. Hinch said the All-Star shortstop would take batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time, adding that the team would consider sending him on a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.

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"He looked great," Hinch said before Houston's 3-2 loss to Oakland. "He felt great."

Meanwhile, McCullers threw a three-inning simulated game Sunday morning at Minute Maid Park, facing catcher Brian McCann and catcher/designated hitter Evan Gattis as hitters. Both McCann (knee) and Gattis (concussion) are also on the DL. Each inning consisted of 15 pitches, meaning the right-hander tossed roughly 45 pitches.

"Things went well," Hinch said of his All-Star righty. "He looked good. "It was nice to see him compete for three innings. We'll meet and see how he how he feels later today and [Monday], and then see if the next step is a rehab assignment."

Hinch noted that McCullers, on the DL for a second time with the back issue, would likely need multiple rehab starts in the Minors before returning to the Astros. The 23-year-old, who's 7-3 with a 3.92 ERA this season, last pitched July 30 in Detroit.

"He executed pitches better than in the last month or so," Hinch said of McCullers, who was 1-5 with a 7.45 ERA in six starts after returning from his first DL stint June 24. "Stuff was pretty good."

Hinch added that both of his catchers were "trending" to return later this week, with McCann a virtual certainty once his 10-day DL stint expires after Wednesday's game. Gattis is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Tuesday, along with relievers Will Harris (shoulder inflammation) and Tony Sipp (calf soreness).

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis, Lance McCullers Jr., Brian McCann