McHugh builds arm strength with long toss

Astros starter on DL since spring with elbow injury

McHugh builds arm strength with long toss

HOUSTON -- Collin McHugh has a timetable in his mind when he might be back on the mound to help the Astros, but the veteran right-hander is keeping it to himself. McHugh is still several weeks, if not a month or more, from being ready to pitch in games, as he continues his rehab from a posterior impingement in his right elbow.

McHugh made 20 throws at 60 feet and 20 throws at 75 feet on Friday and is building up arm strength without any setbacks. He said he will throw again off flat ground Saturday, marking the first time during the rehab process that he's thrown on consecutive days.

"How you're throwing right now is kind of relative," McHugh said. "It's more about the amount of effort that you can put into it, and I felt really good about the effort. It's probably as close to 100 percent effort as I can put into it, that I've put into it in a while. It feels good. It's still looking like it's on schedule. We're going to take it day by day."

McHugh came down with arm fatigue early in spring camp and had worked his way into a game, throwing 1 2/3 innings against the Cardinals on March 27 in his only Grapefruit League appearance. He was placed on the DL late in Spring Training with right shoulder tendinitis and then left his first rehab start in the season opener at Triple-A Fresno on April 6 because of discomfort in the elbow.

Considering he has to work up to getting on the mound and then pitch in some Minor League games, McHugh still faces a long recovery.

"He's making steady progress, which is nice," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Until he really ramps up the long toss, it's really just picking a date on the calendar that we'd be lucky to hit. We're trying to put more and more in front of him so he can do it, but we don't have a target date at this point."

McHugh has a target date, but for now he's focused on making daily progress. The next big step will be throwing off the mound.

"When you're on the mound, it puts more pressure on the arm and I want to make sure I'm stretched out enough to get there," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable at 90, 100 feet to do that. When we get there, it will be the next hurdle to get over and then throwing all your pitches."

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.