Astros pregame tidbits
Astros manager Brad Mills met with the media Friday afternoon in Kissimmee and covered a variety of topics:
- LHP J.A. Happ threw eight innings and 98 pitches in a Triple-A/Double-A game against the Washington Nationals on Friday afternoon. Mills said Happ is in line to throw again in Wednesday’s day exhibition against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park. “He did a real good job,” Mills said.
- Mills said he’s leaning towards Jason Castro starting Opening Day at catcher, Chris Snyder catching Saturday and Castro coming back for the April 8 day game against the Rockies. “They haven’t announced their rotation, so I’d be jumping ahead of myself if I announced that,” he said.
- CF Jordan Schafer, who’s been out nearly two weeks with a sprained nerve in his hand, could get an at-bat Saturday against the Yankees. He was going to take batting practice on Friday prior to the game with the Braves. Mills is hopeful Schafer can get two or three at-bats on Sunday, two or three Monday in Corpus Christi and a few more against the White Sox next week in Houston.
- We know that SS Jed Lowrie‘s MRI should no structural damage, and Mills is hopeful he’ll still be ready to go on Opening Day, which is only a week away. Lowrie played catch and was hoping to field some ground balls on Friday.
- Mills said the battle for the final two rotation spots is down to four people following the release of Livan Hernandez: RHPs Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland, Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell. Sosa and Harrell were said to be out of the mix 10 days ago, but Mills said on Friday they were back in the hunt. Harrell will start the exhibition game Monday against the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
- Here are some updates on the pitching rotation: Lyles on Saturday, Wandy Rodriguez on Sunday, Harrell on Monday and Bud Norris on Tuesday against the White Sox on three days of rest. Mills has his pitching rotation set for the first weekend of the season, but has only announced Rodriguez as the Opening Day starter. “If we start looking this guy in this spot and that guy in this spot, everybody starts thinking about different things sand scenarios and I don’t think that’s fair to them right now,” Mills said.
- Mills said he’ll take a few extra Minor League players back to Texas on Monday for the exhibition game. Mills didn’t yet want to divulge names, but said five or six positions players and three or four pitchers will travel with the Major League club back home.
- Rule 5 pick up RHP Rhiner Cruz will throw two innings against the Braves on Friday night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This could be a big outing with him to see if he sticks with the club.