Astros' Lance McCullers to face hitters this weekend

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    Rehabbing Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. is scheduled to face hitters in a live batting practice setting Sunday morning at Minute Maid Park, potentially his final step before a minor league rehab assignment.McCullers has been sidelined since July 31 because of what the Astros described as back discomfort. It’s expected he will need multiple rehab outings once out on assignment. Odds endsCarlos Correa (left thumb surgery) took groundballs and ran the bases again Friday. The Astros’ All-Star shortstop continues to increase his volume of hitting in the batting cages in preparation for an eventual minor league rehab assignment.Catcher Evan Gattis (concussion) and relievers Will Harris (bone bruise in pitching shoulder) and Tony Sipp are each in line to begin rehab assignments early next week. Gattis took batting practice Friday against both Harris, who simulated one inning, and Sipp, who simulated two.Third baseman Colin Moran (facial fractures) has progressed to taking batting practice at the Astros’ spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.Astros manager A Andrew Chafin Youth Jersey.J. Hinch said Friday he hadn’t heard from MLB regarding potential repercussions for his comments Thursday critical of the umpires from the Astros-Diamondbacks series. “And to be honest with you, I don’t think I did anything wrong,” Hinch said.The Astros took their annual team photo Friday afternoon by home plate at Minute Maid Park.Astros pitching prospect Forrest Whitley, who doesn’t turn 20 until Sept. 15, became the second-youngest player to pitch in the Texas League this season with the six scoreless innings he threw in his Class AA debut Thursday. The only Texas League pitcher younger is fellow Astros prospect Franklin Perez, who turns 20 on Dec. 6.The Astros and the city of Fayetteville, N.C. will break ground Monday morning on the new ballpark for their Advanced Class A affiliate ballpark. The yet-to-be-named minor league team is expected to open play at the new park in 2019.

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