Mor­ton works 2 score­less in­nings

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Jake Ka­plan Houston Chron­i­cle

Pitcher Char­lie Mor­ton threw two score­less in­nings Fri­day in his Houston Astros de­but, his first com­pet­i­tive start in 314 days.

Mor­ton, 33, who tore his ham­string last April and didn’t pitch the rest of the sea­son, al­lowed one hit and walked on while throw­ing 33 pitches (19 strikes) in an 11-3 loss to the New York Mets on Fri­day. He had one strike­out, catch­ing Lu­cas Duda look­ing at a sinker on the in­side corner in the sec­ond in­ning.

One radar gun had Mor­ton’s sinker rang­ing from 94 to 96 mph. The right-han­der also mixed in a few cut­ters and curve­balls and at least one change-up.

“I felt like it was com­ing out good,” Mor­ton said. “It was a good feel­ing be­ing back out on the mound.”

Things didn’t go as well for right-han­der Brady Rodgers, who is likely to be­gin the sea­son in the Triple-A ro­ta­tion. He was shelled over two-plus in­nings, al­low­ing six runs — four in the third in­ning and two more in the fifth. A tworun home run by Neil Walker ended the 26-year-old’s af­ter­noon be­fore he was able to record an out in the fifth.

“It was a rough one,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t re­ally have com­mand of any­thing. It felt like if I was miss­ing my spot it was ei­ther way off the plate or right down the mid­dle.”

The Astros got a homer from cen­ter fielder Jake Maris­nick, who went 3 for 3. Sec­ond base­man Tony Kemp went 2 for 2.

McCullers to pitch next week: The Astros are tar­get­ing late next week for Lance McCullers’ first spring game.

McCullers, whose 2016 sea­son was cut short by an el­bow in­jury, is in line to pitch one of the first games after the team’s off day Tues­day. The right-han­der is sched­uled to throw a sim­u­lated game this week­end, likely his last step be­fore game ac­tion.

McCullers faced hit­ters in a live bat­ting prac­tice set­ting for a sec­ond time this spring Mon­day and “came through great,” ac­cord­ing to man­ager A.J. Hinch. The team mea­sured his fast­ball ve­loc­ity in the low 90s.

Tough out­ing for Pea­cock: Astros right-han­der Brad Pea­cock, a ros­ter long shot who is out of mi­nor league op­tions, was knocked around Thurs­day by the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als.

Pea­cock al­lowed five runs and five hits in only three in­nings, which he needed 66 pitches to com­plete. Jayson Werth drove a hang­ing curve­ball off the left-field foul pole for a three-run homer in a four-run first in­ning for the Nats.

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