Astros, Porter get the first day in the books
Every day for Astros manager Bo Porter is simply about laying a foundation. Every day will be another brick in the team’s master plan of building a championship contender, he said, and the Astros took another step towards that process Tuesday when pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time.
“It was a good brick,” Porter said of the first workout.
The groups of pitchers that put in their first in the bullpen were:
Group 1A: Lucas Harrell, Bud Norris, John Ely, Jarred Cosart, Brad Peacock.
Group 2A: Wesley Wright, Edgar Gonzalez, Alex White, Sam Demel and Jose Valdez.
Group 3A: Xavier Cedeno, Josh Zeid, Kevin Chapman, Brett Oberholtzer.
Those who didn’t throw Tuesday will get on the mound Wednesday. When the pitchers weren’t throwing, they were rotated through three fundamental stations, covering pick-offs, fielding bunts and holding runners. The end of the day brought conditioning tests.
“When I heard running test, the first I heard as a pitching coach is, ‘I don’t want to lose anybody, I don’t want a groin tear or have a misshape with plantar fascistic,’” pitching coach Doug Brocail said. “They slowed some of our guys down. It was no big deal.”
Porter didn’t want the players to do too much on the first day.
“We don’t want them to come out here and blow out the first day,” he said. “It was good to see the guys get on the mound. I like the fact the majority of guys that stepped up there today, they kept the ball down and worked the outer half of the plate. It was good.”
The first day of workouts went smooth enough for Porter that the only thing he planned to change Tuesday was saving his voice. Porter was forced to yell across the fields several times to get someone’s attention, and by the end of the day the clubhouse staff had purchased air horns.
“I think the schedule went well,” he said. “The guys got a lot of work in.”
The pitchers will throw twice in the bullpen before throwing twice to live hitters once position players are here. They will take a three-day break before starting to work in games.
“Everybody looked good today,” Brocail said. “The adrenaline is starting to flow. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had Norris, Harrell, Zeid, [Ross] Seaton and Cosart at home for the last month and a half [in Houston] and on their bullpen day showed up and worked, and the other days we weren’t throwing bullpens I got to see who was coming in early and busting their hump every single day.”
There was some room for fun. Porter, who was a defensive back at the University of Iowa, pretended to cover Harrell, challenging him to get separation from him.
“It’s very important to have fun,” he said. “You come out here and look at the work schedule and there are portions of the day the work schedule is going to dictate you get right to it, but we get to certain aspects of the day we want these guys to be loose, we want them to have fun and at the same time get their work in.”
Another new wrinkle this year: The pitchers lined up to give each other congratulatory handshakes following the workout, mimicking what happens on the field after a win.
“If you want to be it, you have to be it before you are it,” Porter said. “We talk about the culture, we talk about winning. We’re going to do things around here that symbolizes winning and get these guys’ mindset used to shaking hands.”
Here is the day in photos: