Grapefruit League play means heavy evaluations

The Astros are getting down to business. The team will play a six-inning intrasquad game following Sunday’s morning work before opening Grapefruit League play on Monday against the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

While none of the regular players will participate in the intrasquad game, it will be interesting to see manager Brad Mills‘ starting lineup for Monday’s game. Mills has said the lineup is set, and it could give us our first glimpse what the lineup will look like when the regular season starts.

The most intriguing thing to me is who will hit second. There really is not a prototypical No. 2 hitter in the starting eight position players, so we could see Clint Barmes or Bill Hall there for now. Perhaps if Jason Castro gets going at the plate, he could be the guy at some point.

But there’s little doubt Mills is ready to see his players in game conditions.

“You can evaluate all you want, and all of a sudden it comes to a screeching halt come Monday,” he said. “It goes into a separate gear, and the reason it goes into a separate gear is you’re on the field, playing another ballclub. You can evaluate all you want now but you can be fooled by Spring Training and September. You try to put all the things together and do what you can.”

Here are the upcoming pitching rotations:

Intrasquad game home team: Nelson Figueroa, David Carpenter, Ross Wolf, Jose Valdez, Jorge De Leon and Arecenio Leon.

Intrasquad game away team: Fernando Abad, Casey Fien, Cesar Carrillo, Douglas Arguello, Patrick Urckfitz and Jordan Lyles.

Monday vs. Braves (road): Wandy Rodriguez, Henry Villar, Enerio Del Rosario, Fernando Rodriguez, Lance Pendleton, Sergio Escalona and Wesley Wright.

Tuesday vs. Braves (home): Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Fernando Abad, Mark Melancon, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Gustavo Chacin, Patrick Urckfitz.

Wednesday vs. Tigers (split squad): J.A. Happ, Wilton Lopez, Gustavo Chacin, Ross Wolf, David Carpenter, Jorge De Leon.

Wednesday vs. Yankees (split squad): Bud Norris, Douglas Arguello, Jorge Valdez, Casey Fien, Jordan Lyles, Cesar Carrillo.

And finally, here’s the day in pictures, with an emphasis on some of the guys from  Major League camp:

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Above: The Astros pulled over a few Minor Leaguers from mini camp to be used as base runners during rundown drills. Here Bud Norris talks with outfielders Telvin Nash and Jay Austin prior to the drill.

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Above: A group of catchers set up to catch some bullpens.

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Above: This is catcher Ben Heath, a fifth-round pick last year from Penn State who swatted 10 home runs in 61 games in his professional debut.

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Above: To get an idea of how big outfielder Telvin Nash is, here he is standing to Brett Wallace. Nash, a third-round pick in 2009, is listed as 6-2, 220. He hit 13 homers last year in 213 Minor League at-bats, mostly at Class A Greeneville.

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Above: Infielder Tommy Manzella flies around the bases during a drill Saturday.

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Above: Astros players take a much-needed breather after a grueling base-running drill.

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Above: Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton arrived in camp and was greeted by several players, incliuding Jason Michaels. Hamilton, who is in his 62nd Spring Training, returns for his 27th season as the radio voice of the Astros. He has been broadcasting Major League Baseball since 1953, and his 57 years in the Major Leagues is second only to Vin Scully’s 62.

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Above: Michael Bourn has been working hard on his bunting this spring.

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Above: My man Brett Myers fires a pitch during a bullpen session Saturday.


Milo equals baseball wisdom. How many of us used to fall asleep each night listening to him do play by play. Reynolds to Doran to Davis… double play.

What happened to Rule 5 Draftee Aneury Rodriguez? Why isn’t he pitching in the next few days?

Thanks for all the help!really impressed!

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