Keuchel throws 'free and easy' to McCann

Former top Astros prospect Singleton in camp as non-roster invitee

Keuchel throws 'free and easy' to McCann

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Ace lefty Dallas Keuchel, who was away from the Astros on Thursday with an illness, threw in the bullpen Friday afternoon to new catcher Brian McCann, with manager A.J. Hinch watching. Keuchel missed the final month of last season with shoulder inflammation, but he has thrown off the mound six times, though this was the first time at camp.

"First bullpen [session] of the camp and I wanted to tell McCann what I wanted to accomplish here in the next couple of weeks, just start with the fastball in and out and throw the changeup," Keuchel said. "I threw the first couple of cutters, but really focusing on location right now and try to pinpoint that before I come up with the slider and start breaking that in."

McCann said Keuchel threw "free and easy" and with a "repeatable delivery," which is a great sign considering he struggled with his release point at times last season.

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"It's exactly what I thought it would be," McCann said. "The angles he creates are special. He gets the ball to move late, he gets the ball to stay on the plate until the end and then if falls off, and he can do it to both sides."

Singleton seeks career turnaround

It was only three years ago that Jon Singleton reported to Astros camp bursting with potential, being labeled the team's top prospect. The slugging first baseman signed a five-year, $10 million deal that season and made his big league debut, but things have gone downhill since.

This year, Singleton is camp in a non-roster invitee battling for a spot, but he also knows he's competing to stay in the organization. Slugging first-base prospect A.J. Reed made his debut last season, and the Astros are going to try Yulieski Gurriel, Colin Moran, Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez at first base this spring as well.

Singleton on overcoming doubts

"I guess when I was younger, I would stress out about a lot of things not going my way, but now as I've gotten older, I realize certain things happen for a reason and you have to roll with the punches, so to speak," said Singleton, who was designated for assignment in November about the same time he became a father.

 

Singleton, who said he's trying to simply slow everything down, spent last season with Triple-A Fresno and hit .202 with 20 homers, 66 RBIs and 124 strikeouts in 124 games.

"I had a down year -- very down, in my opinion," he said. "[Getting designated for assignment] was the repercussions of kind of the year I had. It wasn't necessarily expected, but it is what it is."

Odds and ends

Shortstop Carlos Correa had his wisdom teeth removed Thursday and will miss a few days. The first full-squad workout is Saturday, which is also the first day fans can attend camp at the new complex.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.