Astros’ Lance McCullers to miss opening day with strained muscle

mccullers astros
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

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 Rodon 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.


Carlos Beltran 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, Beltran was hired by the Mets to replace Mickey Callaway as manager. But the team announced Beltran’s departure the following Jan. 16 without him managing a game.

Beltran’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,” Beltran said.

But that was about all he wanted to say about that.

“Today’s not about the Astros,” Beltran said Wednesday. “Today is about the Mets.”

The 45-year-old Beltran 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.”

Beltran 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.

Beltran spent last season as a game analyst for the Yankees’ YES Network.


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.”

Trevor Bauer pulls on No. 96 for Yokohama’s BayStars

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Trevor Bauer apparently was shunned by every major league team, so he’s signed a one-year deal with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

Before about 75 reporters in a Yokohama hotel, he slipped on the BayStars uniform – No. 96 – on Friday and said all the right things. Not a single Japanese reporter asked him about his suspension in the United States over domestic violence allegations or the reasons surrounding it.

The only question about it came from The Associated Press. Bauer disputed the fact the question suggested he was suspended from the major leagues.

“I don’t believe that’s accurate,” he said of the suspension. “But I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to pitch again. I’ve always wanted to play in Japan.”

He said the suspension dealt technically with matters of pay, and he said he had contacted major league teams about playing this year. He said he would have been eligible, but did not say if he had offers.

The 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Jan. 12, three weeks after an arbitrator reduced his suspension imposed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred from 324 to 194 games.

The penalty followed an investigation into domestic violence, which the pitcher has denied.

Manfred suspended Bauer last April for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy, after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually abused her in 2021.

Bauer has maintained he did nothing wrong, saying everything that happened between him and the woman was consensual. He was never charged with a crime.

Bauer joined his hometown Dodgers before the 2021 season and was 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts before being placed on paid leave.

Bauer said his goal with the BayStars was to strike out 200 and keep his average fastball velocity at 96 mph – hence his uniform number. He said he is also working on a better change-up pitch.

He said he hoped to play by mid-April – about two weeks after the Japanese season begins – and said he has been training for the last 1 1/2 years.

“I’ve been doing a lot of strength training and throwing,” he said. “I didn’t really take any time off. So I’ve had a year and a half of development time. I’m stronger than ever. More powerful than ever.”

Yokohama has not won a title in 25 years, and Bauer said that was his goal in the one-year deal.

“First and foremost, I want to help the Stars win a championship,” he said. “That involves pitching well. That involves helping teammates and learning from them. If they have questions – you know – share my knowledge with them.”

He also repeated several times about his desire to play in Japan, dating from a collegiate tournament in 2009 at the Tokyo Dome. He said playing in Japan was on his mind even before winning the Cy Young – and also immediately after.

“The Tokyo Dome was sold out,” he said. “I’d never played in front of that many people – probably combined in my life. In the United States, college games aren’t very big, so seeing that amount of passion. How many people came to a college game in Japan. It really struck me.”

He said he’d been practicing with the Japanese ball, which he said was slightly softer with higher seams.

“But overall it just feels like a baseball and the pitches move the same. The velocity is similar. I don’t notice much of a difference.”

Other teams in Japan have made similar controversial signings before.

Former major league reliever Roberto Osuna – who received a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy – signed last season with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

He has signed for this season with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

In 1987, Dodgers relief pitcher Steve Howe, who had a career plagued with drug problems, tried to sign with the Seibu Lions. But he did not play in the country after the Japanese baseball commissioner disqualified Howe because of his history of drug abuse.

Bauer was an All-Star in 2018 and went 83-69 with a 3.79 ERA in 10 seasons for Arizona (2012), Cleveland, (2013-19), Cincinnati (2019-20) and the Dodgers. He won the NL Cy Young Award with Cincinnati during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.