Day 12: Berkman returns, Koby mashes and pitchers struggle

Short of rain – or sleet – falling from the sky, the conditions couldn’t have been worse for Wednesday’s intrasquad game at Osceola County Stadium. The temperature was in the upper-40s, and the wind was gusting between 15 and 25 mph most of the game.

The Astros’ every-day players didn’t participate in the game, which was for pitchers to get some work in. Bud Norris started for one team, and Brian Moehler for the other. The team led by first-base coach Bobby Meacham – Meacham’s Mashers – beat the team led by third-base coach Dave Clark – Clark’s Crushers – by the score of 16-13.

Norris pitched a scoreless inning and Moehler gave up two runs in one inning, but Yorman Bazardo took some serious lumps on the mound, hitting a pair of batters. Koby Clemens went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer, and Jason Bourgeois had a triple and a homer.

“It was good to see the pitchers throw the ball to live hitters,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “The biggest thing was to get them out there in a game situation and run through some things. Successes and failures are absolutely nothing today, especially with the weather like it was. But it was nice to get them out there in game situations and throw the ball.

“I thought [Matt] Lindstrom threw the ball real well. He was letting it go there for a while. I know he gave up a couple of balls hit hard, but it was sure nice to see him throw the ball extremely well.”


The Astros will kick off their 2010 Grapefruit League schedule on Thursday against the Washington Nationals without Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee in the batting order.

Berkman, who is recovering from a knee bruise, will be held out by manager Brad Mills. Lee left Florida on Wednesday to fly to Houston to participate in some cattle-showing activities at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Lee will miss Thursday and Friday and be in the lineup Saturday.

An avid rancher in both Houston and Panama, Lee has 11 entries in the livestock show.

“He has my blessing,” Mills said.

So without Puma and El Caballo, here is Mills’ lineup for Thursday’s game:

Michael Bourn CF
Kaz Matsui 2B
Hunter Pence RF
Geoff Blum 1B
Pedro Feliz 3B
Jason Castro DH
Jason Michaels LF
J.R. Towles C
Tommy Manzella SS

Brett Myers will start on the mound with the goal of pitching two innings. Other pitchers available to throw are Alberto Arias, Chris Sampson, Sammy Gervacio, Roy Corcoran, Gary Majewski, Casey Daigle, Wesley Wright, Jose Valdez and Gustavo Chacin.


Left-hander Tim Byrdak was originally supposed to miss Wednesday’s workout after waking up with a sore neck. But Byrdak got treatment and convinced pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to let him throw one inning in the intra-squad game, which he did without incident. Byrdak said he wouldn’t have pitched had it been a regular Grapefruit League game.


Mills said the Astros will use one of their catchers to be the designated hitter more often than not this spring. J.R. Towles and Jason Castro are battling for the starting catching spot and both need at-bats. Humberto Quintero is entrenched as the back-up.

“There’s going to be some times we’re not going to, but for Friday’s game in Detroit we’re going to wait to see if Berkman needs to DH or play first base,” Mills said. “I’m waiting to see how he is [Thursday]. Most of the time, it’s going to be our catchers.”

Mills said Towles will DH on Friday against the Tigers in Lakeland if Berkman isn’t in that spot. Quintero will be the DH for the “B” game scheduled Friday in Lakeland.


Brandon Lyon, who threw gently off the mound Monday and Tuesday for the first time this spring, threw for eight minutes off flat ground Wednesday. Lyon is working his arm back into shape after having a cyst drained in his shoulder in January. Mills said Lyon will get back on the mound Thursday.


The official order of selection for the 2010 First-Year Player Draft in June was released today. The Astros have picks Nos. 8, 19, 33, 58, 90 and 123. For rounds 5-50, the club will pick eighth in each round.



Somehow it doesn’t seem very team-spirited to miss the first couple of games of Spring Training to take care of some other business pursuits. Where will it lead? Will Oswalt have to take a week off to tend bar at his restaurant?

I agree Susan. In fact, I don’t think he deserves any special privileges. He really comes across to me as a slacker and trust me, it takes one to know one.😉

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