Day 22: Lyon nearing a return
Astros right-hander Brandon Lyon will see his first “game” action of the spring when he pitches Wednesday in a controlled game. Lyon threw living batting practice on a back field at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday morning and appears ready to take another step towards getting into his first Grapefruit League game with the Astros.
So what is a controlled game?
“We’ll have fielders and hitters and he’s holding runners, that type of thing,” manager Brad Mills said. “If something happens to go haywire, we can control it. We can roll the inning over or whatever. It would be a game situation, not necessarily just throwing to hitters.”
Lyon, who had a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January, threw 25 pitches to hitters Sunday with incident with Astros general manager Ed Wade, Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg watching. Wade said Lyon threw all his pitches and looked smooth.
“I know both Arnsberg and Mills were really happy with what they saw,” Wade said. “It seems like he’s on schedule at this point. Brad Arnsberg was really raving about his command, not just this outing but overall. He said he could throw his curveball for strikes at will. He was really complimentary of his overall command.”
Mills said right-hander Yorman Bazardo, who left Saturday’s game with a shoulder issue, will take off from throwing until Tuesday. Albert Arias, who’s suffering from shoulder inflammation, was scheduled to play catch Sunday for the first time in three days.
Mills gave a glimpse of the lineup could look like without Lance Berkman, who had minor knee surgery Saturday. Berkman could return by Opening Day, but if not Mills admitted he could have a similar lineup when the season starts if Puma isn’t healthy.
With Berkman out, Mills had Geoff Blum playing first base hitting fifth behind Carlos Lee and ahead of Pedro Feliz.
“We’ve still got a ways to go now, but at the same time it could definitely could,” Mills said. “We’re still playing around with that. That’s not necessarily set in stone. [Blum] has been swinging the bat well all spring long and if he continues to swing the bat well I think everyone would see why I want him in that fifth spot.”
Brett Myers threw 78 pitches (51 strikes) in four innings in Sunday’s game against the Braves. Myers, making his third start of the spring, allowed six hits, two runs, three walks and struck out six batters in his longest start of the year.
“I felt good,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I threw that many pitches. I worked out of some jams, but I felt like that third inning I kind of got squeezed a little bit. That’s part of the game and you have to pitch around that stuff, too.
“It was a little difficult for me not to throw my breaking ball in those situations because I probably won’t throw it to the next time, but it’s good to know I can get out of those situations with other pitches instead of just the breaking ball. It was a good day’s work for sure. I felt real good about.”
Myers threw mostly four-seam fastballs and changeups and tried to shy away from his breaking pitches, which made escaping jams challenging. He gave up a homer to Brian McCann in the second and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam. The Braves loaded the bases in the third and managed only a sacrifice fly. Five of the six hits he allowed were on change-ups.
“There’s plenty of time to get everything working,” he said. “I’m happy with the way my changeup’s coming around and my fastball location is pretty good. I’m pretty happy with the way it went overall because it’s getting better from the first time to second time and this.”
Please note I’m returning to Houston for a few days beginning tonight, so I won’t have any daily camp updates on this blog until Sunday, March 21. But don’t fret. Check back during the week for some other great stuff, including my Final Four prediction (hint: I see red).