Astros' Lance McCullers pitches for first time since Tommy John surgery

The Houston Astros' Lance McCullers on Sunday pitched in a major league game for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018.

The right-hander pitched two-thirds of an inning and didn't allow a run in a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He retired Kolten Wong on a groundout to begin the game, allowed a double by Paul DeJong and struck out Paul Goldschmidt. McCullers threw 16 pitches, 10 for strikes. The Astros won 5-4.

"Out of the 16 pitches I threw, really only maybe one or two that I didn't execute the way I was hoping to pre-pitch,'' McCullers said. "Really happy with just the way I felt overall and just being out there with the guys.

"I really wanted to face the last batter, but I think we just didn't want me to get to the point where I was in the middle of a batter and the pitch count got up over what they wanted me to do."

McCullers' fastball reached 94 mph on the scoreboard radar gun. His signature pitch is the curve.

"It's been the easiest to get the feel back for,'' he said. "I'm still working on my four-seam, trying to get the four-seam back. I was happy with the way I was moving it around today in the zone.''

McCullers last pitched in Game 4 of the 2018 American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.

He has said he is using spring training as a de facto rehab assignment and is slated to be the Astros' No. 3. starter behind Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.

"He was smooth with his delivery,'' manager Dusty Baker said following Houston's 5-4 victory. "He wasn't overthrowing, which I thought he might do from not being out there.''

The 26-year-old McCullers, an All-Star in 2017, is 29-22 in his major league career.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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