Results tagged ‘ J.D. Martinez ’

J.D. Martinez: “I’m sad to leave Houston”

J.D. Martinez, who was called up straight from Double-A the day after Hunter Pence was traded nearly three years ago and had a terrific first month in the Major Leagues, saw his tenure with the Astros come to an end Saturday.

The Astros released the 26-year-old outfielder, who had struggled to get on track offensively this spring without routine playing time. They team also announced it had optioned left-hander Darin Downs to Triple-A and reassigned first baseman Japhet Amador and infielder Gregario Petit to Triple-A.

As Martinez packed up his things in the Osceola County Stadium clubhouse early Saturday, a steady stream of teammates came over and exchanged hugs, handshakes and well-wishes.

“It’s alright,” Martinez said. “I’m not really down about it. It is what it is. Obviously, Houston is the team that brought me up and where I want to be. Everything happens for a reason.”

Martinez, who was vying for a spot in left field or right field, hit .167 with one RBI in 18 at-bats this spring. He was taken off the 40-man roster prior to camp, and the Astros have younger players like L.J. Hoes, Robbie Grossman and top prospect George Springer competing for playing time in the outfield as well.

“We had a lot of history with J.D. and he’s got some value as a right-handed power hitter, outfielder,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We really feel like to a certain extent we’re a victim of our own success. As we continue to develop young talent, we’re going to end up not having room for some players who fit in in the past and could fit in with other clubs. We wish him the best. We still think he’s a Major League player. It’s just not a fit for our club right now.”

Martinez spent parts of three years in the Major Leagues with the Astros, hitting .251 with 24 homers and 126 RBIs. His best year was his rookie season of 2011 when he hit .274 with six homers and 35 RBIs and started 52 of the final 55 games after being called on July 29 to replace Pence in the lineup.

He drove in 28 runs in August 2011, which ranked second in the National League and were a record for an Astros rookie in any month.

“Obviously, I’m sad to leave Houston,” he said. “I love the fans and players and everyone here. I feel like they have a lot of guys coming up, and if there’s not room for me to get at-bats and not room for me to play, it’s best to let me go and not try to hold me back, and I commend them for that and I thank them for that.”

Martinez knew he had to play winter ball to post some numbers. He batted .312 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 24 games in Venezuela last off-season. The experience was a good one, even though he lost 16 pounds because of sickness.

Still, with Springer and Hoes getting time in right field along, Martinez’s at-bats were limited this spring.

“I feel that it was very tough, given my situation, of how I was going into games and stuff,” he said. “I know how it works. I know in Venezuela I hit the ball really well down there. Let’s say I have a new respect for guys who come off the bench every day. That’s not easy to do.”

Martinez hopes to be able to land with another team.

“Jeff was telling there’s a lot of teams that were looking around,” he said. “I was supposed to make a lot of money in Triple-A and because of that it’s kind of spooked teams away. Now it will be a lot easier to get picked up type of deal.”

The move with Petit mean that Marwin Gonzalez and Cesar Izturis are left battling for a backup middle infield spot, and Downs’ potion leaves Raul Valdes and Kevin Chapman as the only two lefties remaining in the bullpen.

“We still have a couple of cuts to make and it’s starting to come into focus and we still have enough games to make the final determinations,” Luhnow said.

Astros invite players to Spring Training

Here are the bios of the non-roster invitees announced by the Astros on Tuesday:

1B Japhet Amador, 26, was acquired by Houston on Aug. 18, 2013, from Los Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City and went on to hit .302 (13-for-43) in 10 games for the RedHawks. Following the regular season, Amador played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League and hit .284 (19-for-67) with four homers and 12 RBIs in 18 games. Prior to his acquisition, Amador hit .368 (147-for-400) with 22 doubles, 36 home runs, 121 RBIs and a .419 OBP in 104 games for the Diablos Rojos in 2013. He led the Mexican League in RBIs, while ranking second in homers and third in total bases (277).

RHP Mark Appel, 22, was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Stanford University. After his selection, he made 10 starts combined for Class A Quad Cities (8 games) and Class A Tri-City (two games), combining to post a 3-1 record and a 3.79 ERA (16 earned runs/38 innings pitched). This followed his 2013 senior season at Stanford, where he went 10-4 with four complete games and a 2.12 ERA (25 earned runs/1061/3 innings pitched). He recorded 130 strikeouts in his 106 1/3 innings pitched and allowed just a .203 opponent’s batting average in his final season at Stanford.

RHP Jake Buchanan, 24, posted a 12-7 record and a 2.96 ERA (52 earned runs/1581/3 innings pitched) between OKC (12 games) and Double-A Corpus Christi (18 games) in 2013. He began his season with the Hooks, where he was named a Texas League All-Star after putting up a 2.09 ERA (19 earned runs/82 innings pitched) with nine walks in 82 innings. At OKC, he went 5-5 with a 3.89 ERA (33 earned runs/761/3 innings pitched) to go along with 55 strikeouts and 13 walks.

OF Adron Chambers, 27, played in 25 games for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, his third straight year to play in the Majors. He spent the majority of his season at Triple-A Memphis, hitting .252 (84-for-333) with 13 doubles, eight homers, 43 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. He has appeared in 84 Major League games in his career, all coming with the Cardinals from 2011-13.

SS Carlos Correa, 19, who was the first overall selection in the 2012 draft, played his first full professional season at Quad Cities last year, posting a .320 (144-for-450) batting average with 33 doubles, nine home runs and 86 RBIs in 117 games. Defensively, he led all Midwest League shortstops in fielding percentage while playing the entire season at the age of 18. According to MLB.com, Correa is the Astros No. 1 prospect and ranks as the No. 3 shortstop prospect in all of baseball.

RHP Rhiner Cruz, 27, was outrighted off of the Astros’ 40-man roster on Dec. 23, 2013, after having two stints in the Major Leagues with Houston last season. Over those two stints, Cruz posted a 3.38 ERA (eight earned runs/211/3 innings pitched) in 20 appearances. The right-handed reliever has made 72 appearances with the Astros over the last two years after being selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 Rule 5 Major League draft.

RHP Jorge De Leon, 26, posted a 5.40 ERA (six earned runs/10 innings pitched) in 11 games across two stints for the Astros in 2013. He was one of 10 Astros pitchers to make their Major League debut last season, making his on Aug. 9 vs. Texas. The former Minor League infielder converted to the mound in 2010 and has pitched the last four seasons in the Astros system. He was outrighted off the Astros 40-man roster following the season on Oct. 17.

CF Delino DeShields, 21, will be a non-roster invite at Major League Spring Training for his second consecutive season. In 2013 at Lancaster, DeShields hit .317 (143-for-451) with 100 runs scored, 25 doubles, 14 triples, five homers, 51 stolen bases and a .405 on-base percentage. The eighth-overall selection in the 2010 draft will come to Spring Training as an outfielder after playing second base in each of his last three professional seasons.

RHP Bobby Doran, 24, combined to go 11-2 with a 3.51 ERA (54 earned runs/1381/3 innings pitched) in 31 games with OKC  (eight games) and Corpus Christi (23gs) last season. The 6-foot-6 right-handed starter was originally drafted by Houston in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of Texas Tech. The 2014 season will be his fifth in the Astros; organization.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz, 22, went 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA (44 earned runs/129 1/3 innings pitched) in 30 games combined with Corpus Christi (23 games/16 starts) and Lancaster (seven games/five starts) last season. The hard-throwing, right-hander registered 124 strikeouts in his 129 1/3  innings pitched last season, while allowing just a .226 opponent’s batting average, including a .207 mark at the Double-A level. He was originally the 19th overall selection in the 2010 Draft.

C Rene Garcia, 23, will be making his fourth consecutive appearance as a non-roster invite at the Astros Major League Spring Training camp. He spent his 2013 season between Oklahoma City (18 games) and Corpus Christi (73 games), combining to hit .293 (108-for-368) with 20 doubles, five home runs and 42 RBIs. Known as a strong defensive catcher, Garcia caught 29 of 63 attempting basestealers (46 percent) in 2013.

C Tyler Heineman, 22, hit .286 (106-for-370) with 23 doubles, 13 home runs and 71 RBIs in 104 games with Lancaster last season. The switch-hitting catcher is entering his third professional season, and just his second full season, after being selected out of UCLA in the eighth round of the June 2012 Draft.

OF Leo Heras, 23, like Amador, was acquired by Houston on Aug. 18, 2013, from Los Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League. After his acquisition, he played in 10 games for Corpus Christi, posting two doubles, one triple, one home run and five RBIs for the Hooks. In 91 games for the Diablos Rojos last season, Heras hit .310 (104-for-335) with 19 doubles, nine triples, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a .398 OBP.

OF J.D. Martinez, 26, hit .250 (74-for-296) with 17 doubles, seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 86 games for the Astros last season before being outrighted off of the club’s 40-man roster on Nov. 20, 2013. Following the 2013 regular season, Martinez played in 24 games for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a .312 (29-for-93) average with six doubles, six home runs and 18 RBIs. He has appeared in 252 games for Houston over the last three seasons (2011-13).

3B Jonathan Meyer, 23, hit .260 (126-for-484) with 24 doubles, 15 home runs and 68 RBIs en route to being named a Texas League All-Star in 2013. He was the Hooks’ everyday third baseman, making 123 starts at the position. Following the season, Meyer played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .286 (14-for-49) with three doubles, one homer and seven RBIs.

RHP Peter Moylan, 35, made 14 appearances across two Major League stints with the Dodgers last season. He spent the majority of his 2013 campaign at Triple-A Albuquerque, posting a 4-1 record with four saves and a 2.74 ERA (14 earned runs/46 innings pitched) in 38 appearances. Moylan has pitched in the Major Leagues in each of the last eight years with Atlanta (2006-12) and Los Angeles (2013), making 309 career relief appearances and posting a 21-9 record and 2.80 ERA (86 earned runs/276 innings pitched).

C Carlos Perez, 23, will be making his second straight appearance at Astros Major League Spring Training. He split his 2013 season between Oklahoma City (75 games) and Corpus Christi (16), hitting .271 (86-for-317) with 18 doubles and 37 RBIs. The 2014 campaign will be Perez’s second full season in the Astros system after being acquired in Houston’s 10-player trade with Toronto at the 2012 trading deadline.

IF Gregorio Petit, 29, is joining the Astros from the Padres organization, where he hit .292 (147-for-503) with 26 doubles and 61 RBIs in 134 games at Triple-A Tucson last season. He also had a solid winter league season, hitting .312 (48-for-154) with 12 doubles, 10 homers and 27 RBIs with Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. Petit has some Major League experience, appearing in 25 games with Oakland in the 2008-09 seasons and hitting .278 (15-for-54) in those contests.

OF George Springer, 24, was named the Astros Minor League Player of the Year after combining to hit .303 (149-for-492) with 106 runs scored, 27 doubles, 37 home runs, 108 RBIs and 45 stolen bases with OKC (62 games) and Corpus Christi (73 games) last season. He became the first Astros Minor Leaguer to ever reach the 30-homer, 30-steal plateau and fell just three home runs shy of reaching the 40-40 mark, which hasn’t been accomplished in Minor League baseball since 1956. He was originally the 11th overall selection in the June 2011 draft.

RHP Jason Stoffel, 25, posted a solid season in 2013 while pitching in relief for Oklahoma City (44 games) and Corpus Christi (seven games). He combined to go 8-1 with five saves and a 3.23 ERA (25 earned runs/692/3 innings pitched) in 51 appearances, while allowing just a .232 opponent’s batting average. A Triple-A All-Star in 2013, Stoffel was one of two players acquired by Houston from San Francisco in exchange for IF Jeff Keppinger on July 19, 2011.

IF Ronald Torreyes, 21, was originally acquired by Houston on July 2, 2013, from Chicago (NL) in exchange for international signing pool space. On the season, Torreyes combined to hit .269 (101-for-375) with 19 doubles and 37 RBIs for Corpus Christi (38 games) and Double-A Tennessee (65 games). Over his four Minor League seasons, the middle infielder has recorded more walks (98) than strikeouts (96) in 376 career games.

RHP Nick Tropeano, 23, spent his third professional season at Corpus Christi and led the Texas League with 130 strikeouts last season. In what was his first taste of the Double-A level, the fifth-round selection in the 2011 Draft posted a 7-10 record with one complete game, five saves and a 4.11 ERA (61 earned runs/133 2/3 innings pitched) in 28 games, including 20 starts. Tropeano has posted 359 strikeouts in 345 innings in his career in the Astros; Minor League system.

OF Preston Tucker, 23, split his first full professional season with Lancaster (75 games) and Corpus Christi (60 games) after getting drafted by the Astros in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. He combined to hit .297 (159-for-535) with 32 doubles, 25 homers, 97 runs scored, 103 RBIs and an .872 OPS in 135 games between the two levels. Tucker finished his season ranking tied for seventh in all of Minor League baseball in RBIs.

Martinez rewards Porter’s faith in him

After outfielder J.D. Martinez went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in Monday’s win over the Rockies, Astros manager Bo Porter tapped him on the back and told him he would be right back in the lineup the next day. Martinez went 8-for-13 in the following three games against Colorado, rewarding Porter’s faith in him.

“I told him he’s not going to go the rest of the season and not strike out five times, so why does it matter if it happened in five consecutive at-bats?” Porter said. “You can’t let it become a mental thing where you’re thinking about the strikeout. You have to make sure you stay in the frame of mind that gives you the best opportunity to be successful.”

Martinez went 4-for-5 on Thursday’s win over the Rockies, setting a career high for hits. He’s hitting .416 (15-for-36) over his last eight games with three doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and six runs scored.

“I just felt like a lot of this series, the strikeout and stuff, I was catching myself thinking too much,” Martinez said. “I was guessing the situation and what they’re going to throw me and stuff like that. Today I said, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to react. I’m going to look for the ball in a spot and if it’s there, I’m going to react to it.’ I felt like that’s what I did today.”

Astros shape the look of their outfield

Outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment Monday, likely bringing an end to their tenure in Houston. The Astros also optioned infielder Brandon Laird to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe and infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes, as well was reinstating outfielder J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. </p>

Crowe, J.D. Martinez and Paredes will join the Astros before Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Ankiel has enough service time to refuse a Minor League assignment, at which point he would probably be released. The Astros have 10 days to decide what to do with Fernando Martinez, who will be released, traded or sent to the Minor Leagues if he passes through waivers.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow had high hopes for Ankiel, who he watched blossom into a potent outfielder while both were with the Cardinals. Ankiel hit just .194 in 25 games with five homers, 11 RBIs and a whopping 35 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.

“Rick Ankiel is a class guy, and I really like him both as a baseball player and as a person,” Luhnow said. “We brought him in here to help our younger kids, to mentor them and help out on the field. I really appreciate everything he did for us. The reality is the team is not where we wanted to be at this point and we feel like outfield is one of our weakest positions, and we wanted to give some guys who are having some success at Triple-A a chance to continue that up here.”

Luhnow met with manager Bo Porter on Monday at Minute Maid Park and went over the roster, and the general manager said the moves were made to fill some specific needs and not a shake-up of a club that’s lost 10 of 11 games and is 8-24.

“We sat down today and really talked about the mix of the team and what was available to us in Triple-A,” Luhnow said. “This is more of a testament about how Jimmy’s been doing in Triple-A, how Trevor’s been doing in Triple-A and wanting J.D. back. We weren’t making changes for the sake of making changes.”

Luhnow acknowledged the club also talked about the status of struggling starting pitcher Philip Humber, but Luhnow deferred to Porter.

Crowe is hitting .300 (33-for-110) in 29 games for Oklahoma City in 29 games this season, clubbing two homers and driving in 14 runs while stealing a team-high 11 bases. Crowe, a former first-round Draft pick by the Indians who’s appeared in 205 Major League games, was signed by the Astros this offseason as a Minor League free agent.

Paredes entered Monday hitting a team-high .376 (41-for-109) in 29 games for Oklahoma City, which ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League, with a 1.040 OPS. Paredes has started at third base and in right field this season for the RedHawks and remains raw on defense.

J.D. Martinez, out since April 20 with a right knee sprain, hit .300 in five games on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. He played in 14 games, including 12 starts, for the Astros before heading to the disabled list.

Fernando Martinez, who had trouble staying healthy, was hitting .182 with a homer and three RBIs in 11 games, while Laird was batting .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 11 games

Martinez in lineup, ready to move forward

Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was pulled from Monday’s game following his fourth inning at-bat by manager Bo Porter, was back in the lineup Tuesday against the Mariners, starting in right field. Martinez was pulled for what he deemed  a “mental mistake,” and the outfielder said he and the manager had a good talk.

Martinez swung at the first pitch in his fourth inning at-bat and popped out, perhaps chasing a pitch out of the strike zone.

“Like I said yesterday to you guys, I understood the situation and we talked about it and put it behind us,” Martinez said. “We still have a lot more games left to play and it’s behind us and we’re ready to move forward. Today’s a new day.

“We settled it and [Porter] said, ‘You’re back in there today because it’s behind us. Time to move forward.’”

The Astros have lost six games in a row following an Opening Night win over the Rangers and are hitting .188 in that span. They’ve struck out 82 times in seven games, whiffing 13 or more five times a game.

“I feel like there’s a little bit of tension in the room,” Martinez said. “You want to win, you want everything perfect. I think it’s just go out there and play baseball, play for each other. They always say, ‘Play for the guy behind you,’ just going out there and enjoying it and having fun and getting the pressure and monkey off our backs.”

Martinez said one good game on offense could get the Astros rolling.

“Every game starts off great and then one things leads to another and then before you know it we have that pressure right back on us again,” he said. “Once we get that pressure off, we’re going to see this team start rolling because now everybody knows the guy behind you is going to pick you up. Now you don’t have that pressure on yourself. You can play and hit and do what you have to do.”

Porter yanks Martinez for ‘mental mistake’

Astros manager Bo Porter pulled starting left-fielder J.D. Martinez in the middle of the fourth inning Monday night for what Martinez later admitted to be a mental mistake during his at-bat in the top of the inning, a pop out to second base.

Porter was asked following the Astros’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners if Martinez, who was hitting clean-up for the first time this year, had been injured, and he told reporters to ask Martinez what happened.

“That was a manager’s decision,” Porter said. “You go ask him why he didn’t finish the game. I’m actually interested in what he’s going to tell you.”

Martinez admitted to making a mistake during the at-bat, but wouldn’t go much beyond that. He swung at a first-pitch fastball from Joe Saunders and popped out after striking out looking in the first inning. Designated hitter Chris Carter swung at the first pitch the at-bat prior to Martinez, too.

“From a baseball standpoint, I made a mistake today,” Martinez said. “I had a mental error going up to the plate and was totally my fault. I understand everything what Bo did, taking me out and everything. I hold nothing against him in that sense because what I did was unacceptable and it was just a mental mistake that will never happen again.”

Martinez hinted went against the approach that was discussed at the hitter’s meeting prior to the game.

“It was just something going up to the plate, our plan and everything,” he said. “I got caught in the moment and really didn’t take a step back. The game was moving quick and I totally slipped, and I take full responsibility for it.”

Martinez has no problem with how Porter handled the situation.

“I completely get it,” he said. “I don’t want it to come off as me being selfish and not being about the team. That’s not what my intentions were. You just get caught up in the game sometimes and you want to go up there and you want to hit so bad and your plan sometimes just flies out the window.”

Martinez, Downs optioned to Triple-A

The Astros optioned left fielder J.D. Martinez, who leads the team with 54 RBIs, and infielder Matt Downs to Triple-A Oklahoma City following Thursday’s loss to the Nationals. Both had options remaining and will likely be back up at some point in September when rosters expand.

Earlier in the day, the Astros acquired infielder Tyler Greene from the Cardinals in exchange for a player to be named later or cash and will have him in uniform for Friday’s series-opener against the Brewers. The club will make another roster move to add a player prior to the game.

“I’m not going to look at it in a negative way,” Martinez said. “I’m not going to go down there and try to be bitter. I’m going to use it as a growing experience.”

Martinez admitted he’s lost some confidence.

“I felt like I started off good and went through kind of a struggle and hit a plateau and never got hot again,” he said. “The confidence was always there. It was never boosted back up again.”

Martinez is barely a year removed from making his Major League debut, which came last August after Hunter Pence was traded to the Phillies. He was called up from Double-A Corpus Christi, so he will be making his first appearance on a Triple-A roster when he joins the RedHawks.

He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Thursday, dropping his batting average to .235 with 11 homers. Martinez, who leads the team with 87 strikeouts, had been hitting just .218 since April 22, including a 6-for-54 stretch April 22-May 13.

“He’s in a situation where he’s going through a little funk and because he has that option left, it’s better if he got out of that funk the next couple of weeks in the Triple-A level instead of trying to work out of it here,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “That’s exactly what I told him, ‘You’re going to fight through this funk.’”

Martinez was disappointed in the move, but was focusing on positives.

“It’s obviously tough,” he said. “You never look forward to that, you never expect it. You have to take it positive and go down there and try to get my swing [right], the same swing that got me here, and I’m just going to keep moving forward and keep working hard to come back.”

Martinez simply hadn’t been squaring up balls like he did last season when he burst onto the scene and hit .274 with six homers and 35 RBIs in 53 games in his Major League debut. He had 28 RBIs last August, which were the most for any Astros rookie in any month.

“You talk to hitters and how hitters get hot is hit the ball on the barrel, and when you hit the ball on the barrel you get that feel again,” Martinez said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I feel that I lost a bit. It’s never easy up here in the first place with the guys pitching and having the stuff they have and you’re battling. It’s a little bit tougher to find that barrel, but it’s the big leagues and that’s why guys get paid a lot of money to play up here. It’s not that easy.”

Downs, meanwhile, was hitting .209 with seven homers and 13 RBIs in 154 at-bats, many of which had come off the bench. He was hitting .311 (14-for-45) in his last 21 games, but hadn’t been able to gain the consistency he had last year when he was arguably the best pinch-hitter in baseball.

When he wasn’t starting, Downs found himself in the unenviable position of pinch-hitting late in games, often against the other team’s closer.

“Here’s a guy that’s prepared so well for his role and done such a good job in facing some of the best pitchers he faces every night,” Mills said. “In the last three innings is usually when he gets his at-bats, and that’s tough. That’s not an easy assignment. Last year, he was exceptional at it and this year he hasn’t been quite as exceptional. But he’s been professional about it how he prepares.”

Lee, Martinez talk about win over Cubs

Here is Astros first baseman Carlos Lee and left fielder J.D. Martinez reacting to Wednesday’s win

Morning update from Kissimmee

Good morning from Kissimmee, where the Astros (4-2) play the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT today at Osceola County Stadium. This will be the first of two consecutive games against the Jays, with the Astros going to Dunedin, Fla., tomorrow.

Here’s what’s going on this morning.

– Astros manager Brad Mills pretty much has all his regulars in he starting lineup for the first time today, with Brian Bogusevic at designated hitter. No, the Astros aren’t prepping for the American League. They will use the DH in home games for about another 10 days or so before the pitchers begin to hit. Anyway, Mills is still tinkering with his lineup and said he’s trying to decide where to bat switch-hitting shortstop Jed Lowrie: “I’m trying to get a feel for him,” he said.

– Catcher Humberto Quintero, who had a cortisone injection into his back on Wednesday to help alleviate the pain from a bulging disk, said he feels great. The veteran said he will catch in the bullpen on Saturday and attempt to block balls and throw on Sunday. Look for Quintero to perhaps be ready to play on Monday.

– Infielder Angel Sanchez, who has also been dealing with back pain, is expected to play today, though he’s not in the lineup. Mills said the team doctors don’t want Sanchez riding the bus for four hours Saturday when the Astros travel to Dunedin, Fla., to play the Jays, so he plans to have him in the starting lineup Sunday at home against the Tigers. “We want the opportunity to get him at-bats and be seen and do the things he’s capable of doing,” Mills said.

Astros lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

RF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

DH Brian Bogusevic

SS Jed Lowrie

C Jason Castro

3B Jimmy Paredes

2B Jose Altuve

LHP J.A. Happ

Game 2: Astros break out big bats

Chris Snyder, Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez each homered to send the Astros past the Nationals, 10-2, on Sunday afternoon in Viera, Fla. The Astros improved to 2-0. Click here for the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the feature story on George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr., which includes a video interview with Springer.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: You have to start with offense. The Astros broke the game open with four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth inning to beat the Nats for the second day in a row despite being outhit (11-8).

Catcher Chris Snyder, making his first start, hit a long solo homer down the left-field line in the third off Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. Outfielder J.D. Martinez belted a three-run homer in the third, and designated hitter Fernando Martinez – claimed off waivers from the Mets in January – hit a three-run homer in the fourth to cap a 2-for-2 day with a walk.

Fernando Martinez is trying to make the roster as an outfielder, and he’s got a shot if he stays healthy considering he swings left-handed and has power. Chris Johnson, Scott Moore, Brian Bixler and Jordan Schafer also had hits Sunday.

“We had some good at-bats in key situations,” manager Brad Mills said. “Snyder’s home run, that ball was hit. The other two might have gotten a little extra help [from the wind]. Fernando Martinez’s home run would have been in the gap anyway and would have been a double. J.D. put a good swing on a ball that was in on him. Any time you get a three-run home run, that’s a huge boost.”

It was another good day on the mound for the Astros, who walked only two batters. Starter J.A. Happ allowed three hits and one run in two innings. He was up in the zone a bit in his second inning of work, but was able to get outs at key times.

Henry Sosa, who was also up in the zone in his the second inning, worked around four hits to throw two scoreless innings. Paul Clemens made his debut and pitched a scoreless frame. The Nats didn’t appear to be seeing the ball very well off of him. Lucas Harrell allowed three hits and a run in two innings and had good life on the baseball, though his command wasn’t there. Fernando Rodriguez looked really sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced, including Bryce Harper. David Carpenter finished it out, allowing one hit in one inning.

The Astros have yet to commit an error this spring.

Click here to hear Fernando Martinez and J.A. Happ discuss their games.

WHAT WENT WRONG: For the second day in a row, there isn’t much negative to single out. The Astros did strike out 10 times and left 13 runners on base, but let’s not get nitpicky. They did draw seven walks, after all, and had a lot of base runners.

WHAT THEY SAID: “He’s got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him. Obviously, you hear about him, but it’s definitely live stuff. Him coming off Tommy John and day two of Spring Training games, he’s definitely got good stuff.” – catcher Chris Snyder on facing Stephen Strasburg.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jordan Lyles, who’s battling for a spot in the rotation, makes his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros when they face the Braves on Monday in Kissimmee. The game could also mark the spring debut of veteran slugger Carlos Lee, who sat out the first two games with a mild right hamstring strain.

INJURY UPDATE: Carlos Lee (mild right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Monday. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (right leg) is day-to-day. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) are taking batting practice against the coaching staff, but not ready to play.

Sorry, no pictures today. The Astros hit in the cages in Viera on a rainy Sunday morning, leaving me no opportunities to snap a few photos. Check back tomorrow.

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