Day 1: Pitchers and catchers hit the field
Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field Saturday morning at Osceola County Stadium for the first day of workouts. Twenty-seven pitchers (Roberto Hernandez isn’t here yet) and six catchers were in action, while several position players, who don’t have to be here until next week, got in some work on the back fields as well.
“Today’s like Christmas morning,” first-year manager A.J. Hinch said. “You get out here and you get the uniform on and get the players on the field and it truly is the start of the season. We’re excited.”
Prior to hitting the field, Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow held a meeting in which Hinch introduced his entire coaching staff. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who’s a special assistant to Luhnow, also spoke briefly to the group before observing the workout.
You can sense things are different in camp this year. Hinch has established a laid-back, communicative environment, and the added presence of accomplished veteran players like Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek have raised the expectations for a club that hasn’t had a winning record since 2008.
“We put a lot of work into this and now we get to see the beginnings of the end result,” Luhnow said. “Obviously, we’ve got six weeks and two days until Opening Day so we have some time and I told the guys this morning they need to pace themselves because the worst thing that can happens is they go too fast and hurt themselves. We’ve got some time – 30 Spring Training games between now and the end of the season, but we’re all anxious, champing at the bit, as they say, to see what the work they’ve put in all offseason and how it all paid off.”
Hinch cautioned the players to ease into workouts.
“We told them, ‘You’re not going to make the team this week and you’re not going to not make the team this week,'” he said. “There very much is a ramp into the spring. These guys are in such great shape and we’ve got a couple of guys that pitched in winter ball that were competing a couple of weeks ago. You do caution them to try to not make the team on the first day. If you’re not available, you can’t help us.”
Pitching groups one and two threw bullpens on Saturday, and groups three and four will do the same Sunday. Groups one and two will throw again Monday, and groups three and four will throw again Tuesday — the last day before facing live hitters.
Pitching group one: Scott Feldman, Dan Straily, Jake Buchanan, Tony Sipp, Luke Gregerson, Jordan Jankowski and Joe Thatcher.
Pitching group two: Dallas Keuchel, Mark Appel, Asher Wojciechowski, Luis Cruz, Josh Fields, James Hoyt.
Pitching group three: Collin McHugh, Alex White, Brady Rodgers, Chad Qualls, Kevin Chapman, Jason Stoffel, Roberto Hernandez (absent).
Pitching group four: Brett Oberholtzer, Sam Deduno, Michael Feliz, Pat Neshek, Darin Downs, Will Harris, Brad Peacock.
Quotes of the day
“He’s also part crazy,” — Hinch on Double-A pitching coach Doug Brocail stepping in the batter’s box against Mark Appel.
“I think our fans expect more this year and rightly so. We’re on our way and we hope to deliver,” –– GM Jeff Luhnow.
“I tell people the only disappointment is I never got to throw to Yogi Berra, to Johnny Bench, that would have been a treat for me as a starting pitcher,” — Roger Clemens.
Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Sunday. RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks.
The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/
Tweets of the day