Fulchino's right elbow passes first test

Fulchino's right elbow passes first test

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Oct. 4, was relieved to get back on the mound and throw in a game for the first time since the procedure to remove inflamed tissue and a bone spur.

Fulchino threw a scoreless innings against the Braves on Tuesday, retiring all three batters he faced.

"It was good to get out there and not put the fears aside, but know everything's good and I don't have any pain and now it's in the past," Fulchino said. "Out here, you never know until you get in a game. You can throw all the bullpen [sessions] you want and feel good, but in game situations is when you tell yourself, 'Am I good or not?' And everything was good."

Fulchino was the Astros' Rookie of the Year in 2009 after going 6-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 61 games, but he had a 5.50 ERA last year in 50 appearances. The soreness in his elbow affected the way he threw his slider, which is his second pitch.

"Since I've been here, it's been free and easy, and that's what it wasn't last year," he said. "It's hard enough to pitch in the big leagues, let alone when you're not healthy and you're down your second pitch."