Results tagged ‘ Ryan Rowland-Smith ’

Options a factor a decision time

As the Astros debate their remaining roster decisions in the next few days, one of the factors that will come into play is which players are out of options. Players who are out of options and don’t make the 25-man roster must clear waivers before being sent to the Minor Leagues, so the Astros would risk losing them.

The Astros have seven players who are out of options for 2011 – right-handers Nelson Figueroa and Alberto Arias, infielders Clint Barmes, Angel Sanchez and Jeff Keppinger, catcher Humberto Quintero and left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith. Of those, only Sanchez and Rowland-Smith are battling for roster spots at this point.

“It’s certainly something we talk about,” general manager Ed Wade said. “We try to weigh all factors, including out-of-options status. Whether it’s one of the out-of-options guys or the Rule 5 players, we try to factor in everything before we make a decision.”

Sanchez, who returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing a few days with an upper back strain, is among five players competing for two backup spots on the infield. Rowland-Smith is in the hunt for a slot in the bullpen. Keppinger will start the year on the disabled list, and Arias is likely to be disabled, as well. Barmes, Figueroa and Quintero are locks to make the club.

Pitchers Lance Pendleton and Aneury Rodriguez were both taken in the Rule 5 Draft, which means they must remain on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to their former clubs. That’s assuming, the Astros can’t work out a trade to keep them. Pendleton came from the Yankees, and Rodriguez from the Rays.

Game 25: Lyles, Figueroa emerge in rotation battle

The Astros aren’t saying it just yet, but you can certainly read between lines. The race for the fifth starter’s spot appears to be down to veteran Nelson Figueroa and top prospect Jordan Lyles, both of whom pitched well in their outings Sunday.

Lyles pitched in relief and held the Pirates to two hits and one run and struck out four batters in 3 2/3 innings, drawing some terrific praise from manager Brad Mills and catcher Humberto Quintero, who said ‘Wow’ when asked about his first time catching the 20-year-old.

“I’m excited when I see a young pitcher like this throw that kind of stuff. I’m surprised and excited because I’ve never seen a 20-year-old throw fastballs and breaking balls like that,” Quintero said.

Figueroa started the other split-squad game against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista and gave up six hits and one earned run in five innings, lowering his ERA to 3.86. General manager Ed Wade admitted Figueroa might have come to camp with a leg up, and now it seems he’s pretty much a lock to make the team in some role.

“I think if you take out that inning and a half over there against the Phillies [on Monday], I think I put myself at the top of the list, hopefully, for the No. 5 starter job,” he said. “I definitely showed all the different things I could do — a continuation of last year — getting out there and pitching, keeping the team in the ballgame. They’ve been all close games for us. The bottom line is I think I can help this team out in that role all year long.”

What is known is that Ryan Rowland-Smith is out of the running for the rotation spot. The team told him upon his arrival at the ballpark Sunday he was now competing for a bullpen spot, and manager Brad Mills said following the game he was now being considered for a bullpen spot. A year after beginning the season as the third man in the rotation in Seattle behind Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, Rowland-Smith couldn’t crack the Astros’ rotation.

“I want to have a good last week and embrace whatever role they give me and contribute,” Rowland-Smith said. “I’ve probably spent 50 percent of my career in the bullpen, and I’ve had a lot of success in the bullpen before I got a chance to start.”

If you look at the lack of innings Rule 5 picks Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton have been getting, it’s apparent they’re not being considered for the fifth spot. The team would have to offer them back to their former teams — the Yankees for Pendleton and Rays for Rodriguez — if they don’t make the 25-man roster, or they could work out a trade and keep them in the system.

“The two Rule 5 guys have done a nice job,” Wade said. “In their circumstances, even if we come to a determination that somebody else has stepped into the fifth spot, we’ll probably hold onto them as long as we can. Even if they don’t make the club, we’d love to keep them in the organization, but those are conversations we would have to have with the Yankees and the Rays.”

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The Astros had their last of six split-squad dates of the season Sunday, and lost both — 3-1 to the Pirates in Kissimmee, and 5-3 to the Braves in Lake Buena Vista. I stayed in Kissimmee to watch Jordan Lyles, and I’m glad I did. Here’s a breakdown from that game:

What went right: Jordan Lyles threw 3 2/3 innings in relief and was dominant, holding the Pirates to two hits and one run and striking out four batters in 3 2/3 innings. Fernando Abad had a much needed good outing, throwing a scoreless inning, and Sergio Escalona and Enerio Del Rosario put up zeroes.

Del Rosario, acquired in a trade from the Reds last September, hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight outings, covering 10 innings of work. Mills said he’s in the thick of the race for a bullpen spot.

“He’s thrown the ball extremely well and continues to get outs and throw strikes,” he said.

At the plate, Humberto Quintero went 2-for-2 to raise his spring average to .440, and Jordan Lyles, Hunter Pence (1-for-3) and Matt Downs (1-for-3) had the other hits.

What went wrong: The Astros were stifled offensively by Pirates starter Charlie Morton, who threw six scoreless innings and struck out five batters. Michael Bourn (0-for-3), Anderson Hernandez (0-for-4), Carlos Lee (0-for-3), Brian Bogusevic (0-for-4) and Oswaldo Navarro (0-for-3) had tough days at the plate.

Lyles was charged with his first error of the spring when he dropped an easy tapper to the mound in the fourth inning.

What they said: “I’m just getting ready for the season. I’m still trying to get my arm in shape. I’m going out there and hopefully I can build on the season I had last year. I felt pretty good right now, like I did going into last season. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and see where it goes.” – Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles.

What’s next: Brett Myers, who will start for the Astros on Opening Day, will make his second-to-last Grapefruit League start when he faces the Detroit Tigers on Monday at Osceola County Stadium. Myers threw a spring-high five innings in his previous outing, and could approach 100 pitches against the Tigers before being backed down for his final spring start March 26. Among the others scheduled to pitch are Wilton Lopez, Mark Melancon and Jeff Fulchino.

Injury update: Wandy Rodriguez threw without issue in the bullpen Sunday and is good to go for Tuesday’s game after missing a start with mild shoulder tendinitis. … Infielder Angel Sanchez has dealing with a sore back and will be out until at least Wednesday.

Here are the photos:

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Above: Alberto Arias draws chuckles from teammates when he dives and slides across the grass to field a ball during drills on Sunday morning.

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Above: Brian Bogusevic flips to Patrick Urckfitz covering 1B during morning drills.

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Above: Wandy Rodriguez, who had missed a start with mild shoulder tendinitis, throws a light bullpen session on Sunday morning. He’s scheduled to pitch Tuesday.

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Above: Brian Bogusevic makes a throw to second base during morning drills.

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Above: See if you can find the ball. Dave Clark hits some balls to the outfielders.

Taking a shot at the Astros 25-man roster

We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.

Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:

CATCHERS (2)

Humberto Quintero

J.R. Towles

Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.

INFIELDERS (6)

Brett Wallace (L)

Bill Hall

Clint Barmes

Chris Johnson

Matt Downs

Tommy Manzella

Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.

OUTFIELDERS (5)

Carlos Lee

Michael Bourn (L)

Hunter Pence

Jason Michaels

Brian Bogusevic (L)

Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Brett Myers

Wandy Rodriguez (L)

J.A. Happ (L)

Bud Norris

Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)

Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)

Brandon Lyon

Wilton Lopez

Fernando Abad (L)

Jeff Fulchino

Nelson Figueroa

Mark Melancon

Henry Villar

Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.

Game 13: Lyles, Rowland-Smith take their turns

The Astros lost, 7-2, to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon in Port St. Lucie, where Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jordan Lyles each pitched three innings in their latest audition to win the fifth starter’s job. Both had mixed results.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Jordan Lyles pitched three innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs. Lyles was told to work on some of his breaking pitches during one of his innings, so that has to play into the results. Those are the things people have to remember during Spring Training. It’s a time for trial and error.

Lyles looked strong and poised and made some hitters look silly, striking out Jason Bay in the first inning specifically. Three of the hits he did give up weren’t hit hard. Two of them went over the head of the second baseman, and the third was a blooper that dropped in for two RBIs.

Rowland-Smith walked the lead-off hitter in all three innings he pitched, but all things considered didn’t pitch too poorly. Walking the lead-off hitter isn’t going to win him any points with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and manager Brad Mills.

Angel Sanchez went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .250, J.D. Martinez and Matt Downs both hit home runs. Downs is hitting .278 with two homers and four RBIs, which are both tied for the team lead through 13 Grapefruit League games.

Anderson Hernandez went 1-for-3 and is hitting .571 in limited action. He was slowed early in camp because of a back problem.

What went wrong: Fernando Abad, a candidate to be the lefty reliever, allowed two hits and two runs in one inning to raise his ERA to 13.50. Besides Sanchez and the homers hit by Downs and Martinez, the Astros had only two additional hits — Michael Bourn and Hernandez.

Brett Wallace went 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .208 after a quick start at the plate.

What they said: “It seemed like the hitters weren’t seeing the ball real well off of him, especially early. He was trying to work on some off-speed stuff in the third inning, and I think that’s where they get some knocks as well off of him. The hits he did give up weren’t all that solid.” -- manager Brad Mills on pitcher Jordan Lyles.

What’s next: After two days of getting a better look at some of the candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, the Astros will give the ball to left-hander Wandy Rodriguez against the Nationals for a rare Grapefruit League night game at Osceola County Stadium. He’s expected to work about four innings, and be followed by closer Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Mark Melancon, Jose Valdez and Wesley Wright.  

Injury update: Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was scratched from the lineup in Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers with back spasms, got treatment on the back Wednesday in Kissimmee and is expected to return to the lineup Thursday night. … Right-hander Bud Norris, who had his outing Monday against Washington cut short with a mild hamstring strain, threw off the mound Tuesday without complications. He’s expected to make his next start.

And now for the day in pictures:

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Above: Infielder Jiovanni Mier, the team’s first-round draft choice last year, chills in the dugout at Digital Domain Park prior to team stretch on Wednesday.

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Above: Astros players begin to stretch on the field at Digital Domain Field on Wednesday.

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Above: Players’ gloves lined up on the dugout railing.

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Above: Mets manager Terry Collins — former manager of the Astros — catches up with current Astros manager Brad Mills prior to Wednesday’s game.

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Above: Brad Mills watches as J.D. Martinez poses on the field for a picture.

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Above: View from the press box at Digital Domain Park, formerly Tradition Field.

Game 11: Crisp win over Mets

The Astros split a pair of games Tuesday afternoon, beating the New York Mets, 5-4, in Kissimmee, and losing, 3-2 , to the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers.

The race for the fifth starter’s spot was front and center Tuesday afternoon, with three of the five candidates for the job – Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton – all in action in two different games.

Figueroa started the split-squad game against the Mets, his former team, and gave up three hits and one run in one inning. He allowed the Mets to load the bases with one out in the first inning, but allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez started the Astros’ other split-squad game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers and gave up four hits and one walk in three scoreless innings. He was followed on the mound by Pendleton, who allowed two hits, two walks, one run and hit one batter in two innings.

Here’s the breakdown of the win over the Mets:

What went right: Plenty, beginning on the mound, where Figueroa, Mark Melancon, Wilton Lopez, Casey Fien and Sergio Escalona all pitched well.

The Astros banged out nine hits, including doubles by Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Clint Barmes and Oswaldo Navarro and a home run by J.R. Towles. It was Towles’ first home run of the spring.

“I just want to see the ball and put a good swing on it and I can’t do anything other than that,” said Towles, who went 1-for-3 to raise his average to .273. “That’s all I’m really looking to do.”

Barmes, having scrapped the leg kick he worked on all winter, went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .167, and Pence went 2-for-2 with a double and is hitting .524 this spring.

What went wrong: The only pitcher to get roughed up was Cesar Carrillo, who allowed two hits and two runs in one inning. Matt Downs and Brett Wallace, both of whom have had good springs, each went 0-for-3. The Astros were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

What they said: “When I first got to spring I was looking at some video and some pictures [of the 2007 and 2008 seasons], and my hands were lower than they had been [recently], so I just got my hands a little lower and am sitting back on that back leg a little bit and not going out to get it. I’m feeling good and seeing the ball well. I’ts working for me, so I don’t need to change anything right now.” – Astros catcher J.R. Towles.

What’s next: The Astros meet the Mets for the second day in a row, traveling to Port St. Lucie for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. CT game. Ryan Rowland-Smith, one of five men competing for the fifth starter’s job, will make his second start and his third outing of the spring. He allowed three runs in his first spring start Friday against the Cardinals. Jordan Lyles, also battling for the final spot in the rotation, will follow Rowland-Smith.

Injury update: Jason Michaels, who was originally in the lineup in the outfield against the Red Sox, was scratched because of back spasms. … Bud Norris, who strained his hamstring on Monday, said Tuesday he felt fine.

Now to the photos:

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Above: Catcher J.R. Towles cover the plate during some drills early Tuesday.

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Above: That’s Telvin Nash, a burly outfielder brought over from Minor League camp to play in Tuesday’s game, taking a swing during batting practice.

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Above: Carlos Lee practices tagging up from third base.

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Above: Ryan Rowland-Smith practices fielding a ground ball during drills. Bud Norris awaits the throw at third base.

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Above: Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton convinces Hall of Fame guy Clint Barmes to be his guest on Astroline on Wednesday night. He said yes.

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Above: That’s former Astros pitcher Tim Byrdak, now trying to win a job with the Mets.

Game 6: Final outs prove to be tough for Astros

The big news of the day at Astros camp was Friday morning’s announcement that starting catcher Jason Castro would likely miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, in addition to the medial meniscus tear that was revealed Thursday.

For more information on the Castro injury, click here.

For a look at some of the catchers that could be available via trade, click here.

On the field, the Astros lost the Cardinals, 10-2, at Osceola County Stadium. The Cardinals scored nine of their 10 runs after two outs as Astros pitchers had trouble finishing off innings.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Jason Michaels continued his hot spring by going 2-for-2 in the designated hitter role, raising his average to .500. Michaels isn’t seeing any time in the outfield because right arm is giving him a little bit of discomfort.

Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez, J.R. Towles and Carlos Corporan each had a hit, and Matt Downs homered to left field in the second inning.

On the mound, Fernando Abad breezed through a scoreless inning with one strikeout, and Patrick Urckfitz and Casey Fien each threw a scoreless inning. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start and didn’t too poorly. He retired five of the first six batters he faced before a two-out walk in second allowed the Cardinals to score three times.

“Finding that third out was elusive,” manager Brad Mills said. “I thought the ball came out of Ryan Rowland-Smith’s hand well. He deserved a little bit better fate than what happened, simply because he was throwing the ball so well.”

What went wrong: The Astros committed three errors, including two in the sixth inning when Mark Melancon was on the mound. Angel Sanchez made a fielding error, and catcher Carlos Corporan had a throwing error in the inning, helping the Cardinals score two unearned runs.

“He did a great job of getting those ground balls,” Mills said of Melancon. “You want your pitcher to get those ground balls. His breaking ball was much more consistent than his last outing, which was sure nice to see. He got some plenty of ground balls that should have finished the innings.”

The Astros were held to eight hits, with Downs’ homer the only extra-base hit in the bunch.

“You saw some real good at-bats and some questionable,” Mills said. “We saw some balls hit hard and some early-count outs, and you don’t want to see those as much. That’s going to happen, too, don’t get me wrong. I realize that’s going to happen, but you’d like to see more consistency.”

Closer Brandon Lyon allowed four hits and two runs in one inning, and Lance Pendleton’s bid for a roster spot wasn’t helped by allowing two hits, a walk and one run in one inning. Jeff Fulchino gave up a pair of unearned runs.

What they said: “Obviously, you want the results and you want to feel good. I’m not going to lie about that. The results weren’t there for me today, but I felt strong and was on top of the ball and my mechanics felt good. I was throwing all my pitches around the zone. I was happy with that and I just missed a few pitches.” - Astros pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith.

What’s next: Wandy Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and six runs in his first spring outing, tries to right the ship when he faces the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in a split squad game at Osceola County Stadium. He had a poor spring a year ago and needs a good showing. Jordan Lyles, the team’s top prospect, makes his first start of the spring in the other split-squad game against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Injury update: Catcher Jason Castro underwent major surgery on his right knee Friday and is likely out for the season. … Outfielder J.D. Martinez is nursing a sore quadriceps and is awaiting his first Grapefruit League action of the spring. … Jason Michaels has been limited to designated hitting duties with some arm discomfort.

And, finally, here are some pictures from Friday:

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Above: Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg catches a portion of J.A. Happ’s bullpen session.

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Above: Jeff Bagwell talks with Brett Myers before Bagwell left camp and returned home.

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Above: Bud Norris throws on the practice mounds Friday, with Arnsberg behind him.

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Above: A 1980s Astros reunion? That’s Cesar Cedeno in between Enos Cabell and Jose Cruz. Sorry, I couldn’t get a good shot of Cedeno’s face, but trust me. That’s him.

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Above: Angel Sanchez practices putting down a bunt.

Game 2: Arms shine for the Astros

The Astros (0-2) lost to the Braves in Grapefruit League action for the second time in as many days, dropping a 3-0 decision in their home opener at Osceola County Stadium.

Before I get into the breakdown of the day’s events, do yourself a favor and read this feature on Astros Minor League outfielders T.J. Steele, Jon Gaston and J.B. Shuck. They are the future, and they have a cool story to tell.

What went right: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. After giving up 15 hits and eight walks in eight innings Monday, eight Astros pitchers scattered eight hits, allowed one walk and gave up three earned runs. Starting pitcher Brett Myers threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one batter.

“My arsenal is not as full as hopefully it would be at the end of the spring, but I was going out there and working a couple of pitches and just tried to locate my fastball more than anything and throw some changeups,” Myers said. “Hopefully, I’ll get some swings and misses and get some quick outs.”

Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mark Melancon, Jeff Fulchino and Gustavo Chacin each enjoyed 1-2-3 innings. Wesley Wright also threw a scoreless inning, allowing one hit.

“I was just trying to work down in the zone,” Rowland-Smith said. “A couple of pitches I was down and a couple of pitches I was up, and I wasn’t too happy about it. You know, as long as I’m throwing strikes and pounding the zone, the more I do that the quicker I get a feel out there for what I’m doing and get ready to go.”

What went wrong: The Astros were held to just three hits, including two singles, by the Braves. The only extra-base hit came on a triple by Hunter Pence in his first at-bat of the spring. Jason Bourgeois and Clint Barmes went 0-for-3 at the top two spots in the order.

“I felt like I saw the ball really well the first day,” Barmes said. “I just missed some balls. My timing was a little off, but for the most part I was happy with the way I saw the ball. I barreled a foul ball, but trying to break it in against three different pitchers, I was pretty happy with the way I felt today. I didn’t get the results I wanted, but I’m not necessarily worried about that right now. It’s still early. All in all, I felt like today was a good day.”

The Braves scored on a bloop hit in the third against Brandon Lyon, and Patrick Urckfitz gave up two runs and three hits in one inning.

What they said: “It’s always good to get back out on the field and see where you’re at with your swing and definitely get back into game action. I’m not looking for too much results on the first day. If you’re expecting a lot of your first day, you’re going to be in trouble. I was looking for something and I feel I got that in the latter part of my at-bats and I feel good going forward.” – Astros second baseman Bill Hall, who was 0-for-2 in his spring debut.

What’s next: The Astros will play their first of six split-squad games Wednesday with games in Lakeland, Fla., against the Tigers and Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees, both at 12:05 p.m. CT. Left-hander J.A. Happ (Detroit) and right-hander Bud Norris (Yankees) will make their first springs starts for the Astros.

Injury update: Astros left-hander Fernando Abad, who’s competing for a spot in the bullpen, was sent home from the team’s Spring Training complex Tuesday morning after showing up with a body temperature of 101 degrees. Infielder Anderson Hernandez (back) and outfielder T.J. Steele (elbow) were cleared to play Tuesday, though neither did. The Astros are holding back outfielder J.D. Martinez (quadriceps strain) until they can reevaluate him Thursday.

Sorry, no pictures today. Rain kept the Astros from working out in the morning and kept me inside. But my trusty camera will be in Lakeland, Fla., tomorrow for the game against the Detroit Tigers.

Astros arms race chugging along

The Astros have 30 healthy pitchers in camp, many of whom have a chance to make the team. There will be only 12 spots on the active Major League roster on Opening Day, and the battles for the final spots in the rotation and in the bullpen figure to go down the final days of camp. Considering that Thursday was only the second day, we have miles to go.

The pitchers who didn’t throw off the bullpen mounds Wednesday were able to get on the bump Thursday, including Mark Melancon, Bud Norris, Nelson Figueroa and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Astros manager Brad Mills stood behind the pack of 10 mounds and watched this group of pitchers throw for the first time this spring.

“Bud threw the ball really well,” Mills said. “I thought the command Rowland-Smitih showed down in the zone was really good. We’ve seen some good arms the last few days.”

Mills said he didn’t get a chance to see Alberto Arias throw in a controlled setting for the first time since he underwent right shoulder surgery April 22, but he made it a point to ask the right-hander how he felt.

“He said his arm felt fine,” Mills said.

The pitching groups will alternate throwing in the bullpen the next two days before taking Sunday off. Position players work out for the first time Sunday, and they will get thrown right into the fire. Mills said the pitchers will throw live batting practice to the hitters on Monday.

Meanwhile, the position players continue to trickle into the facility. Matt Downs arrived Thursday morning, and Jason Bourgeois checked in the afternoon.

Earlier today, I posted a photo of Sergio Escalona wearing Roy Oswalt’s No. 44 jersey. It was an unusual sight, to say the least, so I’m capping today’s coverage with another unusual sight — the great beard of relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino. At least, I think that’s Fulchino behind that hair.

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Jordan Lyles heading to Spring Training

Not that it should come as any surprise, but right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles, the Astros top prospect, will be at Spring Training when pitchers and catchers report in a little more than five weeks, general manager Ed Wade said.

“At this point, I’m pretty much certain he will be there,” Wade said. “We’re going to sit down here [soon] and contact players. There’s a number of guys – including some six-year Minor League free agents we’re committed to contractually to giving an Major League invitation – we’ll be reaching out to. It’s safe to assume Jordan will be one of them.”

Lyles, 20, went a combined 7-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) combined between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. He spent most of the season at Corpus Christi, going 7-9 with a 3.12 ERA in 21 games.

Lyles will compete for the fifth spot in the Astros’ rotation with Nelson Figueroa, Ryan- Rowland-Smith and Rule 5 picks Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton and will be one of the most interesting players to watch during the spring.

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