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09.04.2019 05:08
HOUSTON — Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Antworten

threw a simulated game on Tuesday in West Palm Beach , Fla., the next step in his return from an injury that has sidelined him for six weeks.McCullers (10-6, 3.93 ERA) was lost to a right forearm strain on Aug. 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has logged career highs in innings (126), wins (10), and strikeouts (138) for the Astros (95-56). Whenever he returns it will be in a bullpen capacity. McCullers has yet to appear in relief during the regular season, but he did work out of the bullpen twice last postseason, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts over seven combined innings in Game 3 of the American League Division Series and Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.McCullers threw 30 pitches against three different batters. He is scheduled to throw another simulated game this weekend, at which point a decision regarding his availability will be made.Article continues below ...“He’s still a little erratic getting back on the mound but the fastball seems to be hovering in the low 90s, the breaking ball is there, the changeup,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It was another good step forward.“I don’t want to promise too much too soon, but the hope is that he needs another outing and then we’ll reevaluate once we get on the road what’s next for him. We’re running out of schedule, so we need to push him a little bit but it will all depend on how things go this weekend.”Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-10 Jose Reyes Jersey , 3.57 ERA) will start on Wednesday for the Astros in what amounts to be the rubber match of the three-game and season series with the Mariners. Keuchel is 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA over his last 18 starts and is 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA over four starts against the Mariners this season. For his career against Seattle, Keuchel is 9-7 with a 3.02 ERA over 19 appearances (18 starts).Mariners manager Scott Servais did not name a starter for the series finale, indicating that he could elect to tab left-hander Roenis Elias (2-1, 3.18 ERA) or opt for the “opener” approach and utilize his bullpen with right-hander Casey Lawrence a candidate on the mound for Seattle.Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger represents one guarantee. Haniger has been a second-half stalwart for Seattle (83-68), starting every game since July 7 while missing only three games this season. Haniger, who earned his first All-Star Game nod this season, paces the Mariners in bWAR (5.7) and has taken off since being elevated from the third spot in the order to leadoff.Entering play on Tuesday, Haniger was slashing .329/.388/.597 over the 35 games since his move up the lineup on Aug. 9. He finished 1-for-4 in the Mariners’ 7-0 loss against the Astros, participating in his 148th game while increasing his plate appearances this season to 643. His previous career highs for games played (96) and plate appearances (410) were recorded last season, his first in Seattle. His productivity and reliability this season have not gone unnoticed.“He’s grinding through, he’s really tired,” Servais said of Haniger, who’s hit a career-best 25 homers and is tied for the club lead with 89 RBIs. “He’s had an unbelievable season and he ain’t backing off the gas until it’s over Jeurys Familia Jersey , and I certainly appreciate that. Nobody appreciates that stuff more than the manager and the coaching staff. He’ll continue to grind; that’s what he does.” ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers are not only young, with all those 20-something position players, they go into spring training with a first-time manager and without the retired Adrian Beltre at third base.Chris Woodward has never been a manager. But the 42-year-old former utility infielder spent the last three seasons as third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have something in common with the Rangers.Los Angeles lost in the World Series the past two years. The last team to do that was Texas, which hasn’t won another playoff series since its back-to-back AL pennants in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers are now coming off consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2008.“I’m not really putting any limitations or expectations on this team,” Woodward said. “My goal is to not have a team that’s going to sneak up on people. Maybe this year we will because the expectations around the league are not high on our end. …These players want to win, and I’m not going to sit here and tell them that they can’t.”The Rangers had seven position players 25 or younger play at least 106 games last season. Six are back, including slugger Joey Gallo as a full-time outfielder after consecutive 40-homer seasons.Nomar Mazara, still only 23, has his exactly 20 homers in each of his three seasons . The right fielder missed a month on the disabled list late last season with a sprained right thumb. He avoided surgery, and said the thumb is better with the extended offseason rest.“My main thing is stay healthy. I think I can do a lot of damage out there,” Mazara said. “We’re working in the right direction Mike Piazza Jersey , everybody. We have a good chemistry. We’re just hungry to get out there and do the best that we can. Last year wasn’t fun at all.”NEW LOOKAlong with a new manager, the Rangers will have a new third baseman after Beltre, who had 3,166 career hits, retired in November . They also have a revamped starting rotation with lone returner Mike Minor and four pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery.Switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera, a two-time All-Star shortstop for Cleveland early in his 12-season career, has been at third base for only 52 of his 1,426 big league starts. Those starts at third came the last two years for Philadelphia and the New York Mets.“As he has gotten older, as a lot of players do, his range is probably not quite where it was when you’re talking about shortstop every day … but thinking he’ll be a solid third baseman,” general manager Jon Daniels said.ROOKIES TO WATCHYohander Mendez, a 24-year-old lefty, could be a starting option if all of the surgically repaired pitchers don’t make it through the season. Mendez pitched 43 innings in 17 appearances the past three seasons , with his five career starts all last year.THEY’RE SETWith Minor and free agent addition Lance Lynn, the Rangers have their top two rotation spots filled. Minor led the Rangers in starts (28), wins (12), innings pitched (157) and strikeouts (132) last season, when he was closely monitored in his return to the rotation. The former Atlanta starter missed two full years because of a torn labrum and was a full-time reliever for Kansas City in 2017. Since missing 2016 after Tommy John surgery, Lynn has gone 21-18 with a 4.04 ERA in 64 games for St. Louis, Minnesota and the New York Yankees.THEY’RE NOTWhile the Rangers have pitchers expected to fill out the rest of rotation, all are coming off Tommy John surgery. Drew Smyly hasn’t pitched since 2016. Edinson Volquez (traded by Texas to Cincinnati for Josh Hamilton after the 2007 season) returned to the Rangers last year to go through his rehab. Shelby Miller, who had surgery in May 2017, went on the disabled list in mid-July with right elbow inflammation after only four starts for Arizona.ON DECKThe Rangers open their final season in their current stadium against the Chicago Cubs on March 28. Texas could face two of its former starters in that three-game interleague series. Lefty Cole Hamels was traded from Texas to Chicago last July, and Yu Darvish was traded to the Dodgers in 2017 and pitched in the World Series before going to the Cubs in free agency last season.

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