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Gurriel returns to camp, goes through workout

First baseman out up to six weeks with hamate surgery
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who underwent surgery on Wednesday in Houston to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, returned to the team's facility at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Monday and went through a light workout.

Gurriel, wearing his left arm in a sling, was in good spirits as he exited the facility and took a picture with some fans in front of the giant 3D Astros logo out front. He's expected to be out for up to six weeks following the procedure, which means he will miss the first couple weeks of the regular season.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who underwent surgery on Wednesday in Houston to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand, returned to the team's facility at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Monday and went through a light workout.

Gurriel, wearing his left arm in a sling, was in good spirits as he exited the facility and took a picture with some fans in front of the giant 3D Astros logo out front. He's expected to be out for up to six weeks following the procedure, which means he will miss the first couple weeks of the regular season.

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"I feel better," Gurriel told MLB.com. "No pain. It's good."

Gurriel said he worked out his lower body on Monday and did some running, but it will be a couple of weeks before he can swing a bat.

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"I'll be back fast," Gurriel said.

The 33-year-old was already set to serve a five-game suspension to start the season for an insensitive gesture he made during the World Series. The suspension will begin after he's activated from the disabled list, which means it will be at least mid-April before he returns.

With Gurriel out, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and J.D. Davis are battling for the starting first-base job to start the season.

Gurriel, who signed out of Cuba and made his big league debut in 2016, hit .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs during the '17 regular season and recorded the final out of the World Series. He started 130 games at first base for the Astros in his first full season in the Majors, and manager A.J. Hinch said early in camp he planned to play him at other infield positions.

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Keuchel debuts
In his first Grapefruit League start of the spring, lefty Dallas Keuchel was pleased with his arm strength and disappointed by his command.

Keuchel, who has battled injuries the past couple of years, threw 43 pitches in 1 2/3 innings in Monday's 5-3 win over the Marlins and said it's the best he has felt in a long time out of the gate.

"That's one of the things that I was very happy about, was the couple of times I was looking back at second base after the pitch and I saw a few mph on the scoreboard and it was above what I'm usually at my first start," Keuchel said. "That's encouraging."

Video: MIA@HOU: Keuchel strikes out Maybin to escape trouble

Keuchel said the arm strength is helping him finish his pitches stronger with a little late action on them. He's using his scapula more on his follow through, and it's taking the brunt force while he's going through the motion. He said his arm feels as good as it did in 2014 and '15.

"That's a really, really good sign," Keuchel said.

Keuchel mainly focused Monday on his two-seam fastball and threw some cutters that had good movement, but the two-seam is his bread and butter. He said he's usually throwing 84-85 mph in his first start, but the pitch was at 88-90 mph on Monday, according to the scoreboard.

Still, Keuchel lamented his spotty command.

"But we got plenty of time to get that back on track and make sure everything is crisp and ready to go," said Keuchel, who will start for the Astros on March 30 against the Rangers.

Video: MIA@HOU: Hinch on Keuchel's Spring Training debut

Camp battles
Reed came off the bench and drilled his first homer of the spring on Monday. Reed, battling White and Davis for the first-base job in the wake of Gurriel's injury, is 2-for-19 (.105) this spring. Davis started at first base and went 1-for-3, lowering his average to .389 (7-for-18), and White started at second base and finished 0-for-2. He's hitting .250 (3-for-12) this spring.

Video: MIA@HOU: Reed clubs solo homer down right-field line

Quotable
"I wanted to throw only fastball-changeup again, and I didn't do that. I felt good. I feel like I got a lot of ground balls. Even the guys I was falling behind, the pitches were quality pitches out of the zone. My stuff was moving pretty good today." -- Lance McCullers Jr., who threw 53 pitches in 2 2/3 innings in relief

Video: MIA@HOU: McCullers Jr. K's Rodriguez to escape jam

Up next: The Astros will play a pair of split-squad road games on Tuesday, both at 12:05 p.m. CT (live on MLB.TV). Charlie Morton will start for the Astros against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and Collin McHugh will start against his former team, the Mets, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel