Day 4: Astros batters take their hacks

The first full-squad workout is in the books, and all 57 players in camp were on the field Wednesday. An early morning rain shower pushed the workout back an hour or so, but manager Brad Mills was pleased that everybody got their work in.

“You hate to have your first day sitting in front of the computer watching the clouds come through and watching the animation work, but it happened to pay off,” he said. “We’re thankful we were able to start a little bit later today anyway because of the meeting and we were able to get a full day’s work in.”

Of course, with position players reporting for the first time, the sounds of cracking bats rang out in the back fields at Osceola County Stadium.

“Is that fun or what?” Mills said. “It’s fun when the pitchers and catchers and everything else, but you get position players in here and start moving around and running around and hearing guys hacking all over the place it’s good. It’s sure nice to see.”

It’s hard to judge anything in a few workouts, but Mills likes what he has seen.

“I thought everybody looked really good,” he said. “I thought they looked healthy. You guys were able to see them as much as I was, but I thought everybody looked real good and really energetic. I know it’s the first day but at the same time they swung the bat pretty well. I enjoyed it.”

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The pitchers will start throwing live batting practice Thursday, so get ready to hear the phrase “pitchers are ahead of the hitters.” The hitters took batting practice on the field for the first time Wednesday, so there will be more than a few swings and misses when they face live pitching.

Each pitcher will throw live batting practice every other day before getting a couple of days off and playing an intra-squad game March 3, on the eve of the Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals. Among those scheduled to throw live batting practice on Thursday will be Roy Oswalt, Matt Lindstrom, Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers.

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The Astros have agreed on one-year contracts with the corresponding Major League value of $400,000 with left-hander Fernando Abad and right-handers Wilton Lopez and Henry Villar. The deadline for players on the 40-man roster to agree to contracts is March 3.

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