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."
Batting second suits Barmes just fine
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Clint Barmes was in the No. 2 spot in the batting order for Tuesday's game against the Braves, and that's where he hopes to be on the lineup card when the Astros open the regular season on April 1, at the Phillies.
"Obviously, I have to prove myself there with this team and everything with the way that last year went, hitting eighth most of the year," said Barmes, who went 0-for-3 on Tuesday in his Astros debut. "If I were to pick a spot in the lineup, that's where I'd like to be."
Barmes, a career .254 hitter, has more at-bats in the No. 2 hole than anywhere else in the lineup in his career. He has a career .279 average, a .310 on-base percentage and averages one strikeout for every 5.9 at-bats batting second in the order.
"I think if the season started tomorrow, without even looking at [other] guys, that Barmes would be a guy we're going to take a look at first," manager Brad Mills said. "You want a good fastball hitter. He's going to see a lot of fastballs with Michael [Bourn] on in front of him, and [Hunter] Pence and Carlos [Lee] hitting behind him."
Mills mentioned that Brett Wallace, who went 3-for-3 on Monday, might get a look in the No. 2 hole, though he admitted that Wallace is not the prototypical No. 2 hitter. Barring anything unforeseen, expect Barmes to be there when the season starts.
Feverish Abad sent home from camp
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Left-hander Fernando Abad, who's competing for a spot in the bullpen, was sent home from the team's Spring Training complex on Tuesday morning after showing up with a temperature of 101 degrees.
Abad had been scheduled to pitch in Tuesday's game, but left-hander Wesley Wright was instead slotted into his position in the pitching lineup. Manager Brad Mills hopes that Abad will be able to pitch in one of the split-squad games on Wednesday.
"He's feeling better today than he was the last couple of days, but hopefully he'll be able to go [on Wednesday]," Mills said. "[Abad] threw on Saturday, and another day off is not going to hurt."
Abad posted a 2.84 ERA in 22 games in his Major League debut last year.
Elsewhere on the injury front, infielder Anderson Hernandez (back) and outfielder T.J. Steele (elbow) were cleared to play on Tuesday, though neither did. The Astros are holding back outfielder J.D. Martinez (quadriceps strain) until they can re-evaluate him on Thursday.
Astros to receive tips on nutrition
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Roberta Anding, recently hired by the Astros as a sports dietitian consultant, addressed the team on Tuesday morning to outline the services she's going to provide to the players and staff this year.
"We've talked about it over the last couple of years, about making the commitment, and in all honesty, I've dragged my feet on it a little bit without any really good reason for doing it," general manager Ed Wade said. "One of the reasons we dragged our feet is we wanted to make sure we got the right person."
Anding, a dietitian for the NFL's Houston Texans and Rice University athletics, will provide tips on healthy eating habits for both players and staff. She will examine what the players eat in the clubhouse during Spring Training and extended spring camp, as well as in clubhouses at home and on the road, and on charter flights, during the regular season.
She will also oversee the diets of Minor League players and will go to the restaurants the players frequent in the Minors and Spring Training to see if there are adjustments that can be made on the menus. Each player will be given an eating plan and have supplements monitored more closely.
Wade said the Astros have also hired Doris Gonzalez to help teach English to Latin American players. Gonzalez will work out of Kissimmee and spend time at the team's new academy in the Dominican Republic, where English-speaking computer stations are already up and running.
Manager Brad Mills plans to travel to Lakeland, Fla., on Wednesday for the split-squad game against the Tigers with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, bullpen coach Jamie Quirk and third-base coach Dave Clark. Bench coach Al Pedrique will manage the other half of the roster, which is heading to Tampa, Fla., to play the Yankees. ... Pitcher Sammy Gervacio, who's recovering from January shoulder surgery, has improved his range of motion since the start of camp, general manager Ed Wade said. Gervacio is expected to miss several more months. ... Mills has no plans to name an Opening Day starter just yet, though conventional wisdom suggests it would be right-hander Brett Myers. ... Right fielder Hunter Pence said he was told by umpires on Monday that the white sleeve he wears to protect his left forearm while sliding will have to be black during the regular season. ... The rain of spring fell all morning in Kissimmee, Fla., and didn't allow the Astros to work out on the fields prior to Tuesday's game.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.