Astros make more cuts and McCullers leaves game early

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Mar 19, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Astros news and notes: Singleton, Heineman, Kemp, and McCullers.

The Houston Astros lost the game today versus the Yankees. Once again the Astros came from behind to take the lead behind some of the unheralded prospects like Jack Mayfield. On yesterday’s broadcast, the announcers referred to him as Super Jack. Mayfield is just filling in while the other infielders are away playing in the World Baseball Classic. Good news is that Jose Altuve is back with the Astros, he should get back in the lineup soon.

With about 15 days left in spring training, the roster continues to shrink down to the final 25-man roster by April 3rd. This morning, three players were sent down to minor league camp, one of them is a surprise. The roster now sits at 44, down from the 57 players they started camp with after the cuts this AM, per Jake Kaplan.

The Cuts.

Nothing against Jon Singleton, he once represented a great hope for the Astros at first base. Now, he will once again go down to Triple-A to play in Fresno again. Over the offseason, people were confused about what happened to Singleton.

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The Astros needed some space on the 40-man roster to add some of the veteran talents that they did. They placed Singleton on waivers, but he went unclaimed. Now he would have to be added to the 40-man roster to be added to the active roster. He batted .190 this Spring with two runs batted in and scoring three times in 21 at-bats. Hopefully, he can turn his career around.

Also going down is Tyler Heineman, a catcher best known for his 2013 season at High-A Lancaster. He hit .286 that season with 13 homers and 71 RBIs. Not to say that his 2013 season was due to the hitter-friendly California League, but he has struggled since. Garrett Stubbs and soon to be Jake Rogers will overtake him on the depth chart. He will be a great backup defensive catcher with some magic tricks up his sleeve.

The surprise cut.

This Spring, Heineman hit 0.091 with one hit in 11 at-bats. He didn’t really get much of chance with Brian McCann, Evan Gattis, and Garrett Stubbs. The surprise person cut was Tony Kemp, who many people thought should be the 13th hitter. Kemp can play second base and the outfield, but that’s also the problem. Altuve will cover second base and Marwin Gonzalez able to back him up.

The outfield is loaded, going 4-5 deep with Carlos Beltran, Nori Aoki, and Josh Reddick added to the mix. Kemp would not get enough playing time, so he will go to Triple-A and be ready when his energy is needed to spark the team. Kemp batted .286 this Spring, playing second a lot while Altuve is gone. Tony Kemp will be back.

Lance McCullers leaves the game early.

Other news of note, Lance McCullers gave fans a scare today when he was pulled early from the game. Don’t worry. It’s just a minor skin irritation on his foot from a hole in his shoe. This was McCullers third start this Spring, but Hinch clarified later that it was not a serious injury. McCullers pitched 3 2/3 innings before leaving. He allowed two runs in the first but settled down until he exited.

Next: Where is the playing time for Alex Bregman?

Via Jake Kaplan, McCullers has no concern as to whether he will make his next start. The hole formed in the cleat and rubbed in the dirt every pitch after the hole developed. This is the type of injury that I can deal with. If only they would let him wear his Batman cleats. It was only a flesh wound. With 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings, McCullers is looking good. His ERA is now at 4.5, but I care more about his ERA come the regular season.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***

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