Paredes sent to Minors and back to second base
It appears Chris Johnson will start at third base for the Astros on Opening Day the second year in a row.
The Astros cut six players from Major League camp on Friday morning, including switch-hitter Jimmy Paredes, who took over as the starter at third base for the final two months of last season. He was battling with Johnson for the starting nod this spring, but will be moved back to second base. He played second base for half the season last year at Corpus Christi before being moved to third.
“The staff sat down and had a long meeting about it and went through these things, and we feel it’s going to be best for him, best for the organization as we move forward,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “I think a lot of it had to do with how well [Brett] Wallace has played third base this spring, how well C.J. has played this spring. All those things kind of enter into it.”
Mills wasn’t ready to label Johnson as the starter at third, but admitted he has a leg up over Wallace, last year’s Opening Day starter at first who’s been playing some third this spring as well. He also said Brian Bogusevic had the upper hand in right field.
“There’s no doubt C.J. has the upper hand, simply because how he has played,” Mills said. “To sit here and name the starter with two weeks to go, let’s see how things play out. C.J.’s a guy that has gone about his business extremely professional and we want him to continue to do that as well. We don’t want to discount the other guys either, what they’ve done this spring.”
Paredes, outfielder Fernando Martinez and pitcher Aneury Rodriguez were optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, and pitchers Xavier Cedeno and Jose Valdez and outfielder Brad Snyder were re-assigned to Minor League camp. That leaves the Astros with 41 players in camp.
Johnson, 27, has had a strong spring, hitting .367 with two homers and five RBIs in 30 at-bats. Paredes, who batted .286 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 46 games after getting called up from Double-A last year, was hitting .190.
Johnson was named the Opening Day starter a year ago after batting .308 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs in 2010, but he got off to a poor start and was sent to Triple-A in August. He hit .251 with seven homers and 42 RBIs in 107 games for Houston last year.
None of the other players sent from Major League camp on Friday were expected to make the club. Martinez, the former top prospect in the Mets system, was claimed off waivers, but he has an option remaining and will start the year in the Minor Leagues.
Remaining players in Astros camp (non-roster players in italics):
Pitchers –Fernando Abad (LHP), David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Enerio Del Rosario, Zach Duke (LHP), Sergio Escalona (LHP), J.A. Happ (LHP), Lucas Harrell, Livan Hernandez, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez (LHP), Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Wesley Wright (LHP).
Catchers — Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Landon Powell, Chris Snyder.
Infielders — Jose Altuve, Brian Bixler, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Jed Lowrie, Scott Moore, Angel Sanchez, Joe Thurston, Brett Wallace.
Outfielders — Brian Bogusevic, Travis Buck, Jack Cust, J.D. Martinez, Justin Ruggiano, Jordan Schafer, J.B. Shuck.