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inspectorjj 03-19-2015 06:42 PM

McHugh gaining momentum toward regular season
By Christina De Nicola / Special to | 2:35 PM ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A familiar face awaited the first offering from Astros right-hander Collin McHugh on Thursday afternoon at Tradition Field.

Mets Gold Glove-winning center fielder Juan Lagares, who would ground out to second, was McHugh's roommate in the Arizona Fall League in 2011, when both players were part of the Mets organization.

New York selected McHugh in the 18th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and he spent parts of six seasons there prior to a 2013 trade with the Rockies. Houston later claimed him off waivers that December.

The 27-year-old played nine games for the St. Lucie Mets in 2011 -- the setting for Thursday's 3-1 Astros loss.

"It's cool," McHugh said of being on the visitors' side. "It's a little bit weird. I spent six Spring Trainings over here. Lot of memories with a lot of those guys playing out there. Some guys I came up with."

In his fourth spring start, two veterans -- Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson -- burnt McHugh for solo homers to left in the first and fourth innings, respectively. Cuddyer connected on a curveball, while Granderson stayed with a backdoor cutter.

Other than that, McHugh bounced back from Saturday's rough outing against the Braves when he gave up five runs on six hits in just 2 1/3 innings.

The Mets managed just two other hits -- both singles -- over four innings against McHugh, who struck out three batters and walked none. Of his 62 pitches, 43 went for strikes.

McHugh said he felt good about the outing, particularly after "pumping the zone full of strikes with all your pitches." He called it good progress with two or three more appearances left before the regular season.

"I feel much better today," McHugh said. "I felt like all my pitches were there to an extent. Did some good things out there today. Worked on my breaking ball, [which] got a little tighter, little sharper at times. I was able to execute some pitches I had some trouble with earlier this spring. Working our way toward the season. Definitely making some good changes, getting some momentum."

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