Day 2: Arnsberg winning over pitchers early

Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who joined the staff after serving the same position in Toronto the previous five years, could probably convince his pitchers to throw under-handed by the time this camp is over. He’s energetic and passionate about his job. And Arnsberg has lots of work to do to retool a pitching staff that boasted some of the worst numbers in the Majors last year.

Arnsberg met at length Sunday morning with starters Roy Oswalt and Brett Myers. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes, and Arnsberg said he covered a variety of topics.

“It was Baseball 101,” Arnsberg said. “It was an old-school talk about some of the things they like to do. I was talking to them a little bit about what I have in store for them as far as a pitching plan and kind of what their next week entails, how I’m going to try to back both of them down as we get close to their starts and put them into that five-day rotation. It’s what I’ve done in years past with other Major League teams I’ve been with.”

Oswalt, who didn’t always see eye-to-eye with former pitching coach Dewey Robinson, has already developed a good relationship with Arnsberg.

“He got to coach one of the premier pitcher sin the league in [Roy] Halladay,” Oswalt said. “You learn some things from him because he’s been around and seen a lot of pitching. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, you always learn something.”

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Two days of camp are done the Astros remain relatively healthy. Right-hander Jeff Fulchino still has a sore ankle, but it doesn’t appear to be slowing him down. Right-hander Brandon Lyon is working his arm back in shape after having a cyst drained in his shoulder.

On Sunday, right-hander Casey Daigle was pulled out of last drill because of a slightly sprained right ankle.

“It’s nothing of any significance,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “As a matter of fact, they said it’s better today than it was yesterday. Doing different things on different days they might aggravate it a little bit, but he was fine.”

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One of the most entertaining drills the Astros have done in the first two days of camps involves manager Brad Mills hit a soft-covered baseball, a.k.a. rag ball, at the pitchers while they’re on the mound. Mills talks and yells encouragement during the drill, and the pitchers barely have time to catch their breath before another ball is hit to them.

As the drill progresses, Mills hits the balls harder and eventually Mills and first-base coach Bobby Meacham are hitting balls rhythmically at the pitchers.

“It’s a high-energy drill to keep the guys going,” Mills said. “We want them to have fun with it, but at the same time we want them to pick up in their reactions to the ball and reacting to who the ball is hit. We can have fun with it, they can have fun with it and get something out of it and learn from it.”

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Among the position players to show up Sunday: Center fielder Michael Bourn, outfielder Jason Bourgeois, shortstop Tommy Manzella, third baseman Chris Johnson, outfielder Yordany Ramirez and second baseman Kaz Matsui. There are 12 positions players in camp, but they won’t work out until Wednesday.

“It’s nice to see them show up, and it’s probably nice for me because now I can spend some extra time with them,” manager Brad Mills said. “Before everybody gets here, I can spend some time and they’ll talk to me and I’ll get to know them.”

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