Brad Mills ready for Florida

Brad Mills has spring fever, and who could blame him? The start of his first Major League camp as manager is less than a month away, the skies were sunny on a warm winter day in Houston and hundreds of Astros fans were cheering his every move Thursday.

Mills has been tagging along with the Astros’ winter caravan this week, including stops at owner Drayton McLane ‘s hometown of Temple. The caravan was back in the Houston area on Thursday, when Mills, pitcher Brian Moehler and Astros icon Craig Biggio paid a visit to a home for special-need adults.

With television announcer Bill Brown giving fake score updates of a simulated game – the Astros were leading 132-1 in the seventh inning, by the way - the crowd cheered Mills, Moehler and Biggio.

“It looked like they loved it and we enjoyed it,” Mills said. “Things like this are probably just as good for us as they are for them. We enjoy it, and it’s fun to brighten someone’s day.”

Mills has received nothing but praise about the way he handles himself from players such as Geoff Blum, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Moehler. The first-year manager appears to have won over the players and can probably go ahead and start tinkering with a lineup, considering the Astros are done shopping for the winter. Next comes the hard part. Bringing it all together in time for Opening Day.

Mills will speak a crowd of about 1,000 on Thursday night at the 25th annual Houston Baseball Dinner.

“I think the whole ballclub has been received very well,” Mills said. “I’m not talking about me. It’s the organization and what they’ve done for this community and what they’ve done to get ready for the season has all been received very well. We have some great fans and we’re looking forward to Spring Training.”

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