WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers faced hitters for the first time this spring when he threw live batting practice on a back field Friday morning at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.McCullers, who missed the final month of last season with elbow discomfort, is on an
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers faced hitters for the first time this spring when he threw live batting practice on a back field Friday morning at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
McCullers, who missed the final month of last season with elbow discomfort, is on an individualized throwing program because he's coming off an injury and Spring Training is longer this year with the World Baseball Classic. He said it was the first time he had faced a hitter since early October while rehabbing in Kissimmee, Fla.
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He threw his four-seam fastball, curveball, sinker and changeup, which he's tinkering with at camp. McCullers hasn't thrown his curveball much lately. Among the hitters he faced were J.D. Davis, Reid Brignac and Juan Centeno.
"I felt a lot of things I was working on were coming to fruition a little bit," McCullers said. "I got to see a little bit of the adjustments that my changeup and my delivery can offer. I liked them. I felt good out there."
McCullers is ahead of where he wants to be physically, he said. He plans to throw two more live batting practice sessions before making his Grapefruit League debut. Dallas Keuchel will throw live BP this weekend and Collin McHugh will do it for the first time next week.
"The ball was coming out pretty hot today, at least for where I am right now, which is good," McCullers said. "Physically, I'm a little ahead of schedule, which is always nice to see."
McCullers began and ended last season on the DL, but in between, he went 6-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 14 starts.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.