Astros hitters face live pitching as Clemens arrives
The big news at Astros camp was the arrival of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who will be a frequent visitor to camp this year. The Astros have invited him back to help tutor their young pitchers, and he rolled up his sleeves and went to work on Sunday by watching pitchers throw live batting practice and offering advice to several young arms.
“Obviously, when someone like Roger is talking, you’re a sponge,” pitcher John Ely said.
Also, Astros owner Jim Crane had the thrill of a lifetime when he got the chance to play golf with both President Obama and Tiger Woods. Crane spoke to MLB.com about his great day.
Meanwhile, Sunday marked the first day hitters faced live pitching, and most of the hitters used the time to simply track pitches — watch them thrown into the catcher’s mitt — more than trying to hit, though there were a few who took some hacks on a cold day.
“I took a swing and squared up a line drive up the middle,” Carlos Pena said. “At this stage, you want to make sure you’re ready to hit, and you try to track the pitches and follow them into the glove. But you want to make sure you’re in good position to hit, and then if that’s what you want, go ahead and take a swing.”
The chilly temperatures at camp Sunday were a good primer for those April road games in Seattle, manager Bo Porter said. The skipper said the first day of live batting practice was more for the pitchers than anything else.
“It’s was good for the pitchers to get out of the bullpen and get a hitter in the batter’s box and get closer and closer to starting games here,” Porter said. “If you’re seeing the ball live and seeing ball come out of the pitcher hand – the weather was why some guys decided to track – but at the same time I think it was overall good.”
Here is the day in pictures: