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Peacock impresses Porter in live batting practice

Astros pitchers have one more day of live batting practice Wednesday before they’ll appear in Grapefruit League games, beginning with Saturday’s opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Astros manager Bo Porter singled out right-hander Brad Peacock, acquired in a trade with Oakland earlier this month, as throwing the ball well.

“It was down in the zone,” he said. “Those guys [the group that pitched Tuesday] had their last live day, so they mixed in their breaking stuff and his breaking ball was good, change-up was good and his fastball was explosive with late life. It was good to see.”

Porter said Tuesday the club will use a pitching machine that throws nothing but curveballs in Thursday’s intrasquad game.

“As you take batting practice and even through live [BP], these guys haven’t taken too many swings off of breaking balls,” Porter said. “It’s one of those things that when you get to a game setting and you have the backdrop and the space and the field and all the cages and stuff like that removed, it’s always a good drill.”

The Astros will hold a draft Wednesday morning to pick teams for the intrasquad game, which will be held inside Osceola County Stadium and last about five or six innings. The teams will be called Team Everett and Team Ensberg, with Minor League instructors Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett serving as coaches.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Bo Porter and Roger Clemens.

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Bo Porter demonstrates a cut-off throw.

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Matt Dominguez prepares to catch a ball.

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Tyler Greene is all smiles after “‘Stros Win!”

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Rudy Owens hands out high fives.

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Hitting coach John Mallee talks to his guys.

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Carlos Pena mixes in an energy bar.

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Justin Maxwell adjusts his socks.

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Carlos Pena and bench coach Eduardo Perez talk.

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Bud Norris throws live batting practice.

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Roger Clemens and Doug Brocail talk to Brett Oberholtzer.

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Dave Clark stands over a group of players changing shoes.

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Jason Castro prepares to take his cuts.

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:

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

A long line of fans waits for a Roger Clemens autograph.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talks.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talk.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

First day of full workout goes well for Astros

Astros hitters will get their first look at live pitching during workouts Sunday, when the pitchers will throw to batters with a screen in front of the mound. There will be four days of live batting practice before the manager Bo Porter will hold an intra-squad game on Thursday.

“I just want the pitchers to make it through safe,” Porter said. “That’s more pitching practice than live batting practice. Whenever you incorporate screens and the backstops, that’s always been tough on the position players. It’s more about the pitchers than anything else. It does all those guys good to see a live arm and pick up the velocity on the baseball.”

The team will meet with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association on Friday and hold a like workout in advance of Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Porter said the real evaluating of the players won’t begin for a while.

“Right now I’m honing on guys’ workouts,” he said. “When you get to the beginning stages of Spring Training and you don’t have the competition aspect of another team, you want to watch guys and see how they work. You watch them from a fundamental standpoint and see if anyone needs extra, extra, extra work as far as a particular fundamental.”

Porter stressed fundamentals to his club again Saturday, saying that in the American League teams don’t usually bunt until they’re behind late in the game. He said it’s vital teams field those bunts successfully to get outs to increase their chances of winning.

“You increase your chances of winning the game when you execute these plays properly,” he said. “It puts an emphasis on it, and the players actually understand the significance.”

  • In case you missed it, Astros owner Jim Crane told MLB.com he was looking forward to playing golf with President Barack Obama on Sunday. Obama is spending the weekend at Crane’s Floridian National Golf Club. MLB.com has the details.

Here are the pictures of the first full-squad workout:

Justin Maxwell poses for a baseball card photo.

Justin Maxwell poses for a baseball card photo.

Nate Freiman signs for fans.

Nate Freiman signs for fans.

Chris Carter poses for a baseball card photo.

Chris Carter poses for a baseball card photo.

Chris Carter and Carlos Pena talk at the cage.

Chris Carter and Carlos Pena talk at the cage.

Carlos Pena takes BP.

Carlos Pena takes BP.

Hitting coach John Mallee talks to J.D. Martinez at cage.

Hitting coach John Mallee talks to J.D. Martinez at cage.

Lucas Harrell looks for someone to high five.

Lucas Harrell looks for someone to high five.

Astros players with post-workout handshake.

Astros players with post-workout high five.

Former Astros MVP Richard Hidalgo, who lives in the area, watches the workout.

Former Astros MVP Richard Hidalgo, who lives in the area, watches the workout.

Pitcher Sam Demel throws to first base.

Pitcher Sam Demel throws to first base.

Third base coach Dave Trembley gives directions.

Third base coach Dave Trembley gives directions.

Morgan Ensbergh, infield coach for Class A Lancaster, hits grounders.

Morgan Ensberg, infield coach for Class A Lancaster, hits grounders.

Former Astros SS Adam Everett, an infield instructor, hits grounders.

Former Astros SS Adam Everett, an infield instructor, hits grounders.

Bud Norris.

Bud Norris.

Bo Porter talks to the media.

Bo Porter talks to the media.

Jim Crane talks to the media.

Jim Crane talks to the media.

Jim Crane's helicopter takes off.

Jim Crane’s helicopter takes off.

Rain cuts short day, but not the fun

It drizzled on and off Thursday morning, but the Astros still managed to get in a full workout on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium. But just as the pitchers and catchers were gathering for their post-workout handshakes, manager Bo Porter sprung a surprise.

He order the players into the clubhouse and up the stairs, where he had them watch a video of pitcher fielding practice performed correctly. The video ended with the final three outs of last year’s perfect game thrown by Philip Humber, who was honored earlier in the day by Porter with a sparkling cider toast, complete with a phone call from catcher A.J. Pierzynski from Arizona.

“We made an adjustment with the shaking hands, and we moved that indoors and we had a little video set aside for the guys,” Porter said. “The last three outs of the video was Humber’s last three outs of his perfect game, and then we shook hands.”

Humber was taken back with all the attention.

“It was good to do something like that,” he said of the morning toast. “Nothing to do with me, but to have something for the team to come together over. I thought it was a really good deal. I wasn’t expecting it. It was fun for everybody.”

And don’t miss today’s feature on Jason Castro, who’s hoping to grow defensively while working with veteran catching instructor Jeff Murphy.

Thursday’s Astros notebook is full of information, including Porter’s thoughts on not having names on the backs of jersey this spring, how the team celebrated Humber’s perfect game from a year ago and why Edgar Gonzalez drove 34 hours to Spring Training. And much, much more.

Some other news from Thursday:

  • Outfielder Jimmy Paredes was the latest position to report to camp on Thursday. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said catcher Carlos Perez and infielder Jose Martinez, who had been held up on visa issues, were both expected to arrive on camp on time. Position players are scheduled to report Friday in advance of Saturday’s first full-squad workout.
  • Right-hander Hector Ambriz rolled his ankle during a drill Thursday and had to get the ankle taped up. Manager Bo Porter said it wasn’t serious. Meanwhile, catcher Max Stassi was held out of workouts again Thursday because of strained oblique, but it’s also minor and he could return to action any day.
  • Roger Clemens is expected to be in camp at some point this weekend. General manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t know if the Rocket would working with pitchers beginning Saturday or Sunday, but he’ll soon be back in Kissimmee. Morgan Ensberg, the former Astros MVP who’s returning to the club as a Minor League coach, arrived in town Thursday.

Here is the day in photos:

Jose Altuve signs an autograph.

Jose Altuve signs an autograph.

J.D. Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez head to hitting coaches.

J.D. Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez head to hitting cages.

Xavier Cedeno rocks and fires.

Xavier Cedeno rocks and fires.

Tony DeFrancesco sets the guys straight.

Tony DeFrancesco sets the guys straight.

Bullpen coach Dennis Martinez watches Kevin Chapman throw.

Bullpen coach Dennis Martinez watches Kevin Chapman throw.

Catching instructor Jeff Murphy works with Jason Castro.

Catching instructor Jeff Murphy works with Jason Castro.

Jimmy Paredes is all smiles as he arrives.

Jimmy Paredes is all smiles as he arrives.

Jason Castro catches a bullpen.

Jason Castro catches a bullpen.

Max Stassi, out with an oblique, watches the catchers.

Max Stassi, out with an oblique, watches the catchers.

Delino DeShields Jr. talks to a fan while he signs.

Delino DeShields Jr. talks to a fan while he signs.

Astros toast Humber for his perfect game

Seeing that Rice University was set to honor Philip Humber on Thursday with a commemorative plaque for the perfect game he threw last year as a member of the White Sox, Astros manager Bo Porter decided to honor the right-hander as well.

The Astros toasted Humber in the clubhouse prior to Thursday’s workout at Osceola County Stadium with glasses of sparkling cider. Porter even arranged for Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was behind the plate when Humber threw the perfect game April 21 against the Mariners, to be on the phone from Arizona to lead the toast.

“Obviously, it’s quite an honor and it’s special when you’re able to accomplish pinnacles in this game,” Porter said. “We’re grateful to have Philip Humber in our organization and get him over from the White Sox, but we wanted to acknowledge him today.”

Humber threw the 21st player in Major League history to throw a perfect game last year. There were two more perfect games thrown during the season by San Francisco’s Matt Cain, who sent 27 Astros down in order June 13, and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Dennis Martinez, who threw the 13th perfect game in history 1991 for Montreal, is the Astros’ bullpen coach.

“We’re lucky enough to have two people in our clubhouse in Dennis Martinez and Philip Humber that have accomplished that feat,” Porter said.

Porter was grateful for Pierzynski to accommodate the ceremony by getting on the phone at 7 a.m. MT.

“I talked to him this morning and the timing worked perfect and he was able to get on the phone,” Porter said. “He led the toast and we toasted Philip and it was fun for the group.”

Other things we learned Thursday morning:

  • You have noticed on the photos the Astros don’t have their names on their backs this spring. That’s by design. Manager Bo Porter wants them to earn their names, which will be placed on the jerseys on Opening Day. More on that later.
  • In an effort to try to establish some camaraderie in the clubhouse, Porter is going to start having food delivered to the clubhouse following each workout. He hopes that will encourage players to sit around and talk and get to know each other more.
  • Position players continue to trickle into Kissimmee. Former first-round Draft picks George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr. arrived to camp on Thursday. This will be their second Major League camp, and the two friends are roommates again this year. Catcher Carlos Perez, who was held up on visa issues, could arrive Thursday, too.
  • The Astros have added Minor League catcher Ryan McCurdy to their spring roster as another body to catch bullpens. He will wear No. 98.

Here are a couple of quick morning photos from Kissimmee:

Lucas Harrell keeps things loose as always.

Lucas Harrell keeps things loose as always.

Harrell and Keuchel talk to Jason Castro.

Harrell and Dallas Keuchel talk to Jason Castro.

Escalona gets back on the mound

The biggest news of the day concerning the Astros actually happened nearly 1,000 miles away in Houston, where the club announced its 2013 radio and television broadcast team. There wasn’t much mystery to the names, but with the start of games only 10 days, the incoming broadcasters can talk publicly about their new roles. Stay tuned.

Today’s Astros notebook has tons of information, including injury update on catcher Max Stassi, what Bo Porter has to stay about leadership and a look who might hit leadoff for the Astros. We also take a closer look at manager Bo Porter and what he’s done in the first few days of camp to transform the mood of the club.

At Osceola County Stadium, another three groups of pitchers got on the mound for the first time.

Group 1B: Erik Bedard, Philip Humber, Jordan Lyles, Jose Cisnero, Rudy Owens.

Group 2B: Dallas Keuchel, Jose Veras, Josh Fields, Ross Seaton, Rhiner Cruz.

Group 3B: Paul Clemens, Chia-Jen Lo, Hector Ambriz, C.J. Fick, Sergio Escalona.

It was a big step for Escalona, who missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

“That is one step right now to just keep going to the goal,” he said. “I say ‘Thank God.’ That’s everything I have to say. I was patient, I was working for this day and, like I said, it’s one step at a time. I can’t get overexcited and just try to do everything to my best. I’m excited and really happy for today and just need to prepare for the second one.”

Here is the day in pictures:

J.D. Martinez does an interview.

J.D. Martinez does an interview.

Bench coach Eduardo Perez.

Bench coach Eduardo Perez.

Bo Porter tells the pitchers "don't panic" if they have trouble fielding a ball.

Bo Porter tells the pitchers “don’t panic” if they have trouble fielding a ball.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail in coach's scrum

Pitching coach Doug Brocail makes a point in coach’s scrum.

Sergio Escalona is all smiles after throwing first bullpen.

Sergio Escalona is all smiles after throwing first bullpen.

Paul Clemens throws in the bullpen.

Paul Clemens throws in the bullpen.

Chia-Jen Lo throws in the bullpen.

Chia-Jen Lo throws in the bullpen.

Justin Maxwell greets Bo Porter.

Justin Maxwell greets Bo Porter.

Catching instructor Jeff Murphy.

Catching instructor Jeff Murphy gets a little animated.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo.

Jason Jaramillo and Dallas Keuchel.

Jason Jaramillo and Dallas Keuchel talk following bullpen session.

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:

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Catcher Chris Wallace chases a pop up.

Catcher Chris Wallace chases a pop up.

GM Jeff Luhnow says hello to catcher Max Stassi, acquired in Oakland trade.

GM Jeff Luhnow says hello to catcher Max Stassi, acquired in Oakland trade.

The catchers listen to catching instructor Jeff Murphy.

The catchers listen to catching instructor Jeff Murphy.

Brandon Laird signs an autograph.

Brandon Laird signs an autograph.

Josh Zeid fields a grounder.

Josh Zeid fields a grounder.

Paul Clemens throws to first.

Paul Clemens throws to first.

Dallas Keuchel works on pick-off move.

Dallas Keuchel works on pick-off move with Tony D. watching.

Jose Veras throws to first.

Jose Veras throws to first.

Jason Castro sets up behind plate.

Jason Castro sets up behind plate.

Wesley Wright throws in bullpen.

Jose Valdez throws in bullpen.

Astros players and coaches shake hands after workout.

Astros players and coaches shake hands after workout.

Tuesday morning update

Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field Tuesday morning at Osceola County Stadium for the first official workout of Spring Training. They’ll be joined on Saturday by the rest of the position players, many of whom are already in Kissimmee and working out.

Among those to arrive Tuesday were outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, who said he has decided not to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Manager Bo Porter is thrilled to see so many position players in the field.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “We’ve had great participation in our offseason program and had guys in Houston working out throughout the offseason. You look around from a position-player standpoint, and I want to say we had about 15 players, position players, out yesterday doing a voluntary workout. It shows their anxiousness and excitement to get this thing started.”

Porter plans to address the team prior to Saturday’s workout, but he did have a few words before pitchers and catchers hit the field Tuesday.

“We talked about change,” he said. “You can look around and tell things are changed. We talked about the opportunities that present themselves in this organization. I told them, ‘Embrace both of them. Embrace change and embrace the opportunity,’ and we’re looking for guys to take the bull by the horn and take the opportunity to become Houston Astros.”

Here are some early photos:

Bullpen coach Dennis Martinez and Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco talk.

Bullpen coach Dennis Martinez and Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco talk.

 

Astros catcher Max Stassi is all smiles

Astros catcher Max Stassi is all smiles.

Pitcher Rhiner Cruz hits the field.

Pitcher Rhiner Cruz hits the field.

Jason Castro talks to bullpen assistant Jeff Murphy.

Jason Castro talks to bullpen assistant Jeff Murphy.

Bo Porter and Jeff Murphy.

Bo Porter and Brett Obertholzer.

Pitcher C.J. Ficks shares a laugh with teammates.

Pitcher C.J. Fick shares a laugh with teammates.

Jose Veras and Dennis Martinez shake hands.

Jose Veras and Dennis Martinez shake hands.

Pitchers and catchers listen to instruction prior to first workout.

Pitchers and catchers listen to instruction prior to first workout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luhnow, staff analyze each player on roster

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow met with the front office and the field staff for a few hours Monday afternoon to pore over every player on the Spring Training roster. It’s standard procedure in advance of pitchers and catchers hitting the field Tuesday for the first official workout of the spring.

Pitchers and catchers were officially scheduled to report Monday, and the only player who didn’t show up was catcher Carlos Perez, who’s dealing with visa issues in his native Venezuela. Luhnow didn’t have a timetable for his return, but doesn’t think it will be a long-term issue. The Astros have 29 pitches and six catchers currently in camp.

“The staff, we just all got together upstairs and talked through every pitcher and catcher in camp and it look us a few hours to do that,” Luhnow said. “Really talking about what our expectations are this spring, what’s it’s going to take for them to make the club, what scouting reports do we have for them from last year, talking about new players we haven’t seen yet. Trying to give everybody who’s here in camp as much background as they can on the players that are here.”

Monday’s Astros notebook has updates on who might start on the mound on Opening Day, the health of left-hander Sergio Escalona and more.

Here are some pictures from Monday’s camp activity:

Pitching coach Doug Brocail warms up.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail warms up.

Playing catch.

Playing catch.

Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow walk and talk

Bo Porter and Jeff Luhnow walk and talk.

Venezuelans Javier Bracamonte, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez return from cages.

Venezuelans Javier Bracamonte, Marwin Gonzalez and Jose Altuve return from cages.

Philip Humber throws to Doug Brocail.

Philip Humber throws to Doug Brocail.

Game 24: Astros storm from behind to bolster Wandy

The Astros came from five runs down in the second inning and drilled the Tigers, 14-7, on Tuesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the Astros notebook, which is chock full of Astros news, including an update on center field Jordan Schafer, what Jed Lowrie is doing to swing the bat so well and how Angel Sanchez is trying his hand in the outfield. And there’s much more.

The big news came earlier in the day when the Astros released veteran pitcher Zach Duke and veteran outfielder Jack Cust after both struggled throughout the spring.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Wandy Rodriguez got off to a very shaky start by giving up five runs in the first two innings and then settled down to finish with four very strong innings against the Tigers. He allowed six hits and five runs and threw a spring-high 90 pitches in six innings, but he got better as the game progressed and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced.

“I told you the other day, I wanted to go longer in the game and I did it today. I tried to throw everything, my breaking ball, my fastball, my change-up,” Rodriguez said. “I used a lot of my change-up today and threw a lot of good ones today.”

Fernando Abad came into the game and got a big out in the seventh, and Brandon Lyon threw a scoreless inning.

The Astros bashed out 13 hits, including four doubles and two home runs, en route to scoring 14 runs. Jason Castro ripped a two-run double in the second inning and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Jed Lowrie hit the ball hard once again, including a two-run single to right field from the left side of the plate.

Brian Bogusevic went 2-for-3 with three runs, two RBIs and two walks and hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning for the last of the Astros’ nine unanswered runs after falling behind 5-0. Jose Altuve went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and also walked a pair of times, which is a very good sign.

Brian Bixler came off the bench and launched a long, three-run homer to left field in the eighth inning, giving him three homers in 25 spring at-bats. The other hits belonged to J.B. Shuck, Angel Sanchez, who’s hitting .412, Carlos Lee, Chris Johnson and Jake Goebbert.

The Astros didn’t commit an error and were 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

What went wrong: Rodriguez struggled early, giving up a Brennan Boesch homer in the first and allowing four more runs in the second, including a inside-the-park homer by Austin Jackson. J.B. Shuck couldn’t corral Jackson’s fly ball at the wall and it rolled back towards the infield.

Mills said he is continued to be concerned with the number of runs the Astros are giving up in first innings this year. He said they’ve given up 25 runs in the first inning in 24 games this spring.

“We need to kind of clean that up a little bit,” he said.

Rhiner Cruz’s run of good pitching ended when he gave up a run, a hit, two walks and hit a batter in two-thirds of an inning in the seventh, raising his spring ERA to 8.53. Wilton Lopez allowed two hits and a run in the ninth.

What they said: “The big thing was to see Wandy come back and pitch like he did. He was frustrated with himself when they were able to jump out in front of us with that five-run lead. He wasn’t happy with himself, but he saw the guys get right back into the game and Wandy was able to continue and pitch very well.” — Astros manager Brad Mills on Tuesday’s outing by left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

What’s next: Lucas Harrell will start against the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday in Kissimmee. Harrell is starting in place of Bud Norris, whose start was pushed back two days because of tightness in his triceps. Harrell is trying to win a bullpen spot as a long reliever, but he could start the year in the rotation at Triple-A.

Injury update: Center fielder Jordan Schafer flew to Atlanta on Tuesday to be examined by the same hand specialist he saw when he broke his wrist in 2009. General manager Jeff Luhnow said he’s likely out of game action until the weekend. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who’s dealing with tightness in his right triceps, said Tuesday he hopes to be 100 percent when he starts Friday against the Braves.

There are no photos today, but check back tomorrow. Until then, stay cool.

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