Astros move Myers to closer

The Astros’ search for a closer ended with a surprise announcement Tuesday morning.

Astros manager Brad Mills told reporters veteran starting pitcher Brett Myers would be moved into the closer role, a position he held with the Phillies in 2007. The Astros approached Myers shortly after the start of spring camp to gauge his interest in becoming the closer, and he agreed to the move Monday after consulting with his family and his body.

The Astros have no shortage of candidates to fill Myers’ spot in the rotation after signing Livan Hernandez and Zach Duke to Minor League contracts this winter. Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ are likely to be in the rotation when the season starts, with youngsters Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrell, Henry Sosa and Kyle Weiland in the mix for the other spots

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said had been discussing the move for a while with Mills and pitching coach Doug Brocail

“From my standpoint, we have some depth in the rotation between Duke, Livan, Happ, Sosa and Harrell and all the young guys,” he said. “We feel like we’re in pretty good shape there and have some choices. We felt like were a little exposed in the bullpen, and having a guy who’s been successful in that role and who’s got the mentality and stuff to do well takes pressure of Brandon Lyon coming off an injury and doesn’t put pressure on young kids like David Carpenter and Wilton Lopez.”

Myers began 2007 as the Phillies’ Opening Day starter before being moved to closer three starts into the season. In 21 relief appearances, he went 5-5 with 21 saves and a 2.87 ERA, but was shifted back to the rotation after Philadelphia acquired Brad Lidge prior to the 2008 season. He’s been a starter ever since.

The Astros began last year with Brandon Lyon as closer, but he got injured a month into the season and wound up having surgery repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum. Mark Melancon closed most of 2011, but the team traded him to the Red Sox in exchange for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.

With Lyon apparently not in the team’s plans, that left the Astros without an experienced closer. The team soon turned to Myers.

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