Mandatory Credit: Photo by David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock (13437499c) Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of a baseball game, in Houston Phillies Astros Baseball, Houston, United States – 03 Oct 2022
McCullers won’t be available opening day because of small muscle strain in right elbow
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. said Wednesday he won’t be available for the start of the season because of a “small muscle strain” in his right elbow that was detected in an MRI on Tuesday night.
“Opening day is out of the question,” McCullers said at spring training.
“It’s not something serious – a small muscle strain. We did an MRI. Everything was structurally good. Probably the best-case scenario. It’ll set me back a little, but it shouldn’t be anything like last year.”
McCullers was unable to pitch last season until August because he was undergoing rehabilitation for an injury to his right elbow.
“Because of the nature of building up through spring and the amount of bullpens and lives you need for games, the smartest thing is to go at a slow pace and come back and have a chance to throw for the majority of the season and still hit that 150- to 160-inning mark vs. rushing it and coming back and risking re-injury or not being an effective part of the team,” he said.
McCullers admitted to being upset, and who would blame him? He’s experienced a lot of injury issues, including Tommy John surgery.
“I had a great offseason and was incredibly excited for the year,” he said. “I felt like I was in an amazing spot physically and got to camp early and threw a bullpen, and, unfortunately, after that bullpen, there were some red flags into the evening and the next day. I had some elbow soreness.
“Obviously, I’ve been a little upset. I was really looking forward to a great start to camp and the season. Any time this happens, it’s very frustrating for me, our team, and our fan base. I wanted to have a great year and get off to a great start.”
McCullers is hoping to start throwing again sooner rather than later, getting back to his regular routine and taking his usual spot in the rotation – without experiencing pain in his elbow.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Without McCullers, the Astros still have five dependable starters – Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, and Hunter Brown – as well as the best bullpen in baseball.
(John McClain writes four columns a week for GallerySports.com. He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on SportsRadio610.com).