Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. OK after being cut by bottle in celebration

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON – Houston right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. sustained a small cut to his throwing elbow after being hit with a bottle during the team’s celebration after winning the AL Division Series.

“Unfortunately, after the victory in Seattle, I caught a spare champagne bottle to the elbow bone,” McCullers said.

He’s OK but had some swelling after the incident so the team chose to give him an extra day to rest.

Up 2-0 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, Houston will start Cristian Javier in Game 3 at the New York Yankees on Saturday and McCullers will start Game 4 Sunday night.

“It was really no one’s fault,” McCullers said. “It was just an accident. So, it’s not a huge deal.”

McCullers said he threw a bullpen of 35 pitches Friday and was feeling good and would have no limitations in his start Sunday.

He was asked exactly how the injury occurred.

“Some guy was kind of coming back behind me and the bottle just happened to kind of hit the back inside a part of my elbow as the people were passing by,” McCullers said. “It wasn’t like we were getting wild. I was standing there. He was walking by, just happened to hit me in the right spot.”

He isn’t the first pitcher to be injured celebrating this season after Phillies reliever David Robertson missed the NLDS after straining his calf jumping to celebrate a home run by Bryce Harper in the Wild Card round.

Javier pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief in Houston’s 8-7 Game 1 win in the ALDS but hasn’t started since an Oct. 1 win over Tampa Bay.

The 25-year-old started and struck out 13 in seven innings of a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 win at Yankee Stadium on June 25. Gerrit Cole, who will start for New York on Saturday, took the loss in that game.

McCullers started Houston’s marathon 18-inning win over Seattle in Game 3 of the Division Series that completed a sweep of the Mariners. He allowed two hits and struck out seven in six scoreless innings of the 1-0 victory before being injured as the Astros celebrated clinching their sixth straight trip to the ALCS.

McCullers ended Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS by throwing 24 consecutive curveballs to retire the Yankees’ final five batters in order.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song 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 continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

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.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.