WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Five months removed from undergoing right shoulder surgery, Astros outfielder Preston Tucker is progressing as normal, but he has been limited to hitting flips during the first week of spring camp. He's been able to do all the defensive drills, though.
Tucker underwent surgery on Sept. 21 to repair the acromion, a bony projection on the shoulder blade. He appeared in 48 games for the Astros last season, hitting .164 with four homers and eight RBIs from the left side of the plate. Tucker didn't get his arm out of a sling until November and he wasn't able to lift the arm over his head until the start of 2017.
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"It's pretty much a week-to-week progression, and I'm halfway into doing flips and hopefully progress to a live arm, and then eventually go to an actual pitcher and hopefully into games," he said. "I'm not sure how long it's going to take. It just depends on how I feel. Hitting feels fine, catching is OK right now. I'm still maybe a couple of weeks about from 100 percent, but I feel good for where I am."
Tucker was on the Opening Day roster last year before being optioned to Triple-A Fresno in mid-May after batting just .176. He returned to the Astros in July, but he couldn't find a rhythm at the plate. He was placed on the disabled list in August with a strained right shoulder and never made it through a rehab outing a few weeks later.
Tucker is battling for a roster spot this spring as a backup outfielder and designated hitter. It's not clear how much the shoulder hampered him at the plate last season, but he had a nice showing in his rookie year, batting .243 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs in 98 games in 2015.
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.