Sipp could pitch Monday vs. Cards

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Veteran lefty reliever Tony Sipp, who was scratched from his Grapefruit League outing Saturday because of back stiffness, could pitch again Monday, manager A.J. Hinch said Sunday. Hinch said Sipp was feeling better and that he would like to work him into the game against the Cardinals.

“Really, our innings were filled up [Sunday] anyway,” he said. “We’ve mapped out the rest of the spring for all of our bullpen, so when something like this happens it’s hard to re-insert somebody right away, so we took an extra day for precautionary reasons, but we’re hopeful he’s able to go tomorrow.”

Hinch categorized Sipp’s condition as nothing more than “standard, end-of-camp back stiffness” and said he would likely be just day to day.

Sipp, in the second year of a three-year, $18 million deal, is the only lefty in the bullpen to begin the season, so he’s a vital piece to the puzzle. He allowed 52 hits, including 12 homers, in 43 2/3 innings last year after a bang-up 2015 in which he had a 1.99 ERA in 60 games.

In five Grapefruit League appearances, Sipp has allowed eight hits and three earned runs in five innings. He hasn’t pitched in a Spring Training game since March 18, but did throw 38 pitches in 1 1/3 innings in a Minor League game last week.

“The back of the baseball card for him has had success,” Hinch said. “He’s done well. He’s very familiar, especially with the early schedule and Seattle and Oakland, who he’s pitched a ton against. I trust that he’s going to get himself ready mentally. Physically we all want our guys to go out and have clean innings and get a few hits between now and the beginning of the season, but mentally I want to make sure he’s got confidence.”

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.


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