Mills says cuts will come down to wire
As the Astros prepare to leave Florida in less than two days, the injury to Clint Barmes, who’s expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken left hand, has forced manager Brad Mills to prolong some pending roster decisions.
Mills had hoped to have most of his decisions made by the time the team left Florida on Tuesday, but he said Sunday morning that’s not going to happen.
“It’s going to go all the way up to Thursday probably, now with Barmie’s hand and so forth,” he said. “That kind of connects with the other decisions we need to make. Not necessarily with the pitching, but the position players.”
The Astros have 34 healthy players in camp, a number that doesn’t include infielder Tommy Manzella. He was optioned to the Minor Leagues last week, but brought back to Major League camp Saturday and thrown back into the mix to start at shortstop. He was the Opening Day starter last year.
Manzella, Matt Downs, Anderson Hernandez (non-roster), Oswaldo Navarro (non-roster) and Angel Sanchez are battling for three spots — two backup infield jobs and the starting shortstop position. Sanchez is dealing with back problems and is out of options, which complicates matters.
The decision on who makes the club on the infield will have a domino effect on the final outfield spot, where Jason Bourgeois and J.B. Shuck are the last two men standing. If the switch-hitting Hernandez makes the team, that would give the Astros a left-handed bat off the bench. Bourgeois is right-handed and Shuck is left-handed, so Shuck might have a better chance to crack the roster if Hernandez doesn’t make it.
Of course, general manager Ed Wade said the team doesn’t necessarily have to go with a left-handed bat off the bench.