Musgrove throws curve in race for rotation job

Musgrove throws curve in race for rotation job

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- While Joe Musgrove tries to pitch his way into the Astros' starting rotation to begin the season, the young right-hander is working on refining his curveball to be able to throw it more often to more hitters. A 2-2 curve that was belted out of the park by Jose Martinez in Monday's 12-6 loss to the Cardinals was his only blemish in five otherwise effective innings.

Musgrove, who manager A.J. Hinch describes as a perfectionist by nature and a competitor, is certainly taking nothing for granted as he battles with Mike Fiers for the fifth spot in the rotation (Fiers will start on Tuesday against the Marlins). Musgrove threw mostly sinkers on Monday, along with a couple of sliders and a few changeups, but a more effective curve could be a huge weapon.

Hinch on rotation jobs

"I didn't throw it much to righties and when I did last year, I got hurt on it pretty bad," Musgrove said. "I want to be able to use it. I don't want to really limit myself to certain pitches against certain hitters, so trying to work on it and just left it up on the zone. It's a pitch I'm going to have to throw down in the dirt and see if I can get a chase on it."

Musgrove likely has only one start remaining in Grapefruit League play to state his case, but he's had a nice spring so far. In 17 innings in five outings, he has allowed 13 hits, five runs and five walks to go with 11 strikeouts.

"I feel good," Musgrove said. "I've been telling people it's kind of hard to go out when you know you're fighting for a spot and results obviously matter, but I'm still trying to experiment with pitches and get things ready [that] I need to get ready for the season. I'm trying to keep my eyes down and keep with the things I know I need to work on to be ready for the season, and when that Opening Day comes wherever I land, I land. I'm trying not to let the outside interference affect what I do."

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.