Players trickle into camp in Kissimmee
There is no official “reporting” date to Spring Training as there has been in years past, but several players were at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday — one day ahead of the first workout for pitchers and catchers.
J.A. Happ and fellow starting pitcher Bud Norris were among a handful of players to seize the opportunity to get on the back fields and play catch. Also working out Sunday were pitchers Lucas Harrell, Fernando Rodriguez, Wesley Wright, David Carpenter, outfielder Jake Goebbert and catcher Jason Castro.
Other who were in camp Sunday: Chris Snyder, Jack Cust, Zach Duke and Jorge De Leon.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition for positions, but it’s always going to be good just to see everybody again,” Happ said. “It’s good to have a little time off, but after so long everybody is going to be ready to get going again.”
The Astros will have 63 players in camp this year, including 23 non-roster players. The pitchers and catchers will take their physicals prior to Monday’s workout.
“We’ve been in Houston so long, champing at the bit,” said infielder Brett Wallace, who reported well ahead of the Feb. 26 first workout for position players. “Getting in last night and getting the chance to get in there, it’s like reality that it’s about to start. I think we’re all excited to get going this year.”
The Astros have more jobs up for grabs than any camp in recent memory. The top three spots in the rotation are decided, with Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Norris returning, and Carlos Lee (first base), J.D. Martinez (left field), Jose Altuve (second base) and newcomer Jed Lowrie (shortstop) likely to be in the Opening Day lineup.
“We’ve got to come in here and be positive, and that’s our No. 1 priority,” Norris said. “A lot went on last year besides playing baseball that kind of had us living in limbo land with the ownership, but finally we got that settled and I’m sure [new owner Jim] Crane is going to have an opportunity to talk to us and we’re going to have an opportunity to talk to him. It’s a fresh start. That’s what we needed.”
Veteran relief pitcher Brandon Lyon, who underwent surgery last year to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum, was understandably eager to get to Kissimmee. Lyon has been throwing off the mound at home and said he comes to camp with no limitations.
“I’ve thrown a few times off the mound, which is kind of rare for me coming into Spring Training,” he said. “I usually don’t throw too much, but I felt like I had to throw a couple of times and get on the mound and see where I’m at. I’m actually pretty happy where I’m at. I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am right now.”
Catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season with a serious knee injury and underwent foot surgery two months ago, reported to camp on Sunday in good shape. He underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove the sesamoid bone from his foot after injuring it playing in the Arizona Fall League and sat out all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a large tear in the meniscus and having a reconstruction of the right ACL.
“I feel really good health-wise,” Castro said. “I’ll be ready to go. That’s a big reason why I’m excited. I wasn’t sure how the whole rehab process was going to go, but everything has gone really well. That makes me even more excited to get going, knowing I’m healthy.”
Here are some photos from Sunday: