Houston Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. says he will miss opening day for the World Series champions because of a strained muscle in his pitching arm.
McCullers, sidelined for the first 4 1/2 months of last season while rehabbing from a right flexor pronator strain, noticed soreness after a bullpen session last week.
He had an MRI on Tuesday night. He told reporters Wednesday that it showed no structural damage to his elbow but will delay his start.
“I’ve been a little bit upset,” the 29-year-old said. “I was really looking forward to a great start to the camp and a great start to the season.”
McCullers described the injury as a “small muscle strain.”
“It will set me back a little bit, but it shouldn’t be anything like last year,” he said. “It should be something where hopefully I’m playing catch in s couple weeks.”
Being ready for opening day, he said, “is out of the question.”
“Because of the nature of building up through spring and the number of bullpens you need and then obviously, games, the smartest thing would be to go at a slow pace and then come back and still have the ability to throw the majority of the full season.” he said.
McCullers missed the 2020 season following Tommy John surgery and went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 2021, then was injured in the postseason.
He had signed an $85 million, five-year contract before the 2021 season. McCullers made eight starts from Aug. 13 on last year and was 0-1 in three postseason outings.
Yankees starting pitchers Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino along with reliever Michael King threw two innings apiece in a simulated game with a Triple-A umpire behind the plate and the new pitch clock ticking away.
The result was each half inning averaged around two minutes shorter than in previous years. And there were only a couple violations.
“I feel like these first few days, from that standpoint, has been a success,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s something that I’ve kind of been beating them over their head with. I think that’s what was good about having an umpire here today where you can have that casual interaction and that feedback.”
Yankees hitters included Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu.
Cole needed 35 pitches to get eight outs, allowing a single to Harrison Bader.
King is coming back from a fractured right elbow in July that required surgery.
The Philadelphia Phillies say Noah Song’s transfer from active duty to Navy selective reserves frees him up to join the team’s spring training camp on Thursday.
The 25-year-old from California, was taken by the Phillies in the winter meeting draft in December with hopes he would play after military service.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continued active duty.
Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.
BELTRÁN MUM ON CHEATING
Carlos Beltrán talked to reporters on his first day back with the Mets organization Wednesday. But he didn’t want to talk about the Houston Astros and cheating.
Beltran joined the Mets last week as a special assistant to general manager Billy Eppler.
On Nov. 1, 2019, Beltrán was hired by the Mets to replace Mickey Callaway as manager. But the team announced Beltrán’s departure the following Jan. 16 without him managing a game.
Beltrán’s departure was announced three days after he was the only Astros player mentioned by name in Major League Baseball’s report that concluded that Houston broke rules by using electronics to steal signs on the way to the 2017 World Series title.
“I felt like that was a moment that needed to happen, and I moved on,” Beltrán said.
But that was about all he wanted to say about that.
“Today’s not about the Astros,” Beltrán said Wednesday. “Today is about the Mets.”
The 45-year-old Beltrán was a nine-time All-Star who played with the Mets from 2005-11 and is sixth on the team’s career list for homers (149) and RBIs (559).
He said he never expected to return to the team.
“That’s how the world goes around,” he said. “When this opportunity came, it was a no-brainer to say yes.”
Beltrán said several clubs offered him opportunities to be an on-field coach this season. He sees his new role as a bridge between players and the front office, helping players understand the pressure of playing in New York.
Beltrán spent last season as a game analyst for the Yankees’ YES Network.
WILL VOTTO BE READY?
Reds first baseman Joey Votto is still rehabbing from last summer’s shoulder and biceps surgery and may not be ready to play in the regular-season opener March 30.
The 39-year-old Votto is in the last season of a $251.5 million, 12-year contract.
“I have to get game reps,” he told reporters Sunday. “I need at-bats. I need game-speed reps. I haven’t come close to taking those yet. I’ve never been in this position before.”
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