Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’

Game 25: Williams roughed up in loss to Cards

The fact: Jerome Williams allowed six runs and nine hits, including three home runs, in four innings as the Astros lost for the ninth time in 10 games, 6-3, on Sunday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium (boxscore).

Not that it matters much, but the Astros have lost nine of 10 to fall to 8-15.

What we learned: The fact Williams is a lock to make the club, something which manager Bo Porter said earlier Sunday, doesn’t change his approach to anything the rest of the spring.

“I’m just going to keep on going day-by-day until Opening Day comes,” he said. “I’ve been around this game for a long time, and I’m not satisfied until I’m there Opening Day. Even though it was said by the manager I was there, I’m going to try and work my butt off and try and be that pitcher that I always want to be and try and compete and do well.”

Williams, who’s battling with Dallas Keuchel, Brad Peacock and Lucas Harrell for the two final spots in the starting rotation, didn’t help his case Sunday when he was rocked for nine hits and six runs in four innings in a loss to the Cardinals.

“I’ve just got to work on throwing a ball not to bats,” he said. “It was one of those days where balls were just finding bats, and balls were finding holes. I left like three or four pitches up and they took advantage of it. It’s kind of bad that it’s happening now at the end of spring. Hopefully, I can just try and turn it around before the season starts.”

Read more about Williams here.

Player of the game: SS Jonathan Villar went 1-for-3 with a triple and made a pair of great catches. In the sixth inning, he made an all-out diving grab along the left-field line, and an inning later caught a foul pop while navigating the bullpen along the left-field line.

“That’s a tough play when you start dealing with the bullpen mound and the different things that’s down there,” manager Bo Porter said.

What went wrong: The Astros, who were without the top three hitters in their lineup — Dexter Fowler, Jose Altuve and Jason Castro — were held to three hits and didn’t get a hit until Villar led off the sixth with a triple. … C Carlos Corporan had a throwing error in the seventh inning.

Notable: LF Marc Krauss made a great diving catch to rob Matt Carpenter of a hit to start the game. … RHP Anthony Bass and RHP Jorge De Leon each threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. LHP Raul Valdes threw two-third scoreless.

Quotable: “Jerome has really good command, and sometimes you can throw too many,” — Astros manager Bo Porter on starting pitcher Jerome William’s tough outing.

Up next: LHP Dallas Keuchel gets another shot to win a spot in the rotation when the Astros face the Braves at 5:05 p.m. CT Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Keuchel got off to a nice start this spring with three consecutive scoreless outings before getting rocked for 13 hits and seven runs March 18 against the Marlins in Jupiter. He’s battling with Jerome Williams, Brad Peacock and Lucas Harrell, though either one of those pitchers could wind up in the bullpen as well.

Injuries: RHP Alex White (recovering from biceps tendinitis surgery), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery), RHP Peter Moylan (UCL tear).

Links of the day:

Astros to open the season without a set closer

Former first-round Draft pick Jio Mier hopes to rebound in 2014

Tweet of the day:

Astros’ Appel gets in game for first time

With general manager Jeff Luhnow, several members of the front office and a handful of scouts watching from one of the back fields at Osceola County Stadium, Astros right-hander Mark Appel took the mound in a game for the first time Friday in a game this spring.

Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s First-Year Player Draft who was slowed by an appendectomy performed in late January, threw 37 pitches in 1 2/3 innings of work while starting a Minor League game for Class A Lancaster. He allowed three doubles, one run, one walk and struck out a pair of batters.

“It was good to get back out there,” said Appel, who was sent to Minor League camp Thursday. “It’s good to face batters. I think it had been close to seven months since I last got to face a hitter in a game situation [last season at Stanford]. I’m just happy to be back and be healthy after the appendectomy and just ready to get going and ready for the season to start.”

Appel started the game by allowing back-to-back doubles and a walk before settling down to strike out two of the next three batters and escape the inning with only one run allowed. He threw 10 pitches in the second inning, getting a pair of groundouts before leaving the game after allowing a double and reaching his pitch limit.

“First time you step on the mound in a couple of months, I felt like my timing was a little bit off and I felt like I was a little bit anxious, maybe rushing a little bit,” he said. “Just kind of the excitement and the nerves of getting to face hitters, no matter if you’re in Little League or the big leagues, you’re going to get excite to do what you love and you just find joy in it. I enjoyed getting to play today.”

Appel admitted he wasn’t in the same physical condition he was in midseason at Stanford, but he still tried to let it fly as much as he could. His fastball was sitting in low 90s according to one scout’s radar gun.

“That’s what the point of Spring Training is and the point of getting to go out over the season,” he said. “That’s why they call it midseason form. I hope to be in the best physical shape of my life by the middle o the season this year, and I’m doing everything each and every day to get to that point.”

Appel, who will pitch again Wednesday, said he threw more curve balls in the second inning. He said the hitters weren’t catching up to his fastball in the first inning.

“I was expecting it, and I left it up and they hit it well,” Appel said. “Besides that, what I could tell they were waiting fouling it off, so I wanted to try to set them up with the fastball and work on a good strikeout curveball.

“I didn’t quite get there today. I was leaving some of my off-speed pitches up. I threw one or two good ones of each, but for the most part it’s still something I need to work on. I’m never done improving, never done getting better. Overall, I’m pleased with being able to go out and compete. I had fun today.”

Game 20: Harrell makes his case for rotation spot

The fact: Right fielder Bobby Abreu went 3-for-4, including a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning, to lead the split-squad Phillies to a 6-3 win over the Astros on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: Don’t count out RHP Lucas Harrell for a spot in the starting rotation. Harrell, who coughed up 12 hits and nine earned runs in his previous start on Saturday, pitched well Thursday by allowing six hits and one earned run in 4 1/3 innings. He wasn’t efficient, though, needing 91 pitches.

Harrell, who’s among four battling for the final two spots in the Houston rotation, has allowed one earned run in four of his five starts this spring.

“Some of the good things I’ve been taking out of my outings are weak contact,” he said. “I felt like I got some weak contact today, some balls on the ground, and that’s mainly what I’m looking for.”

Player of the game: CF Dexter Fowler went 2-for-2 with a walk, a double and a run scored at the top of the lineup to raise his spring average to .250.

What went wrong: LHP Kevin Chapman, who took the loss, came into a jam in the fifth and got a pair of strikeouts before allowing a pair of runs (one earned) in the sixth. … LHP Darin Downs gave up five hits and three earned runs in two innings of work, raising his spring ERA to 6.75. … Marwin Gonzalez played a few innings in CF as promised and sailed a throw to the plate in the sixth inning well over the catcher’s head.

“I think it’s a matter of getting to know the position and getting his arm stretched out,” manager Bo Porter said. “Obviously, that’s a different throw than any of the throws he’s had to make from short, second or third. Again, we’re going to put him out there. He gives us flexibility. I thought he made a really good play on a ball doing to left-center. He’s going to add some versatility to our ballclub.”

Read more about how Gonzalez could shape the Astros roster here.

Notable: Harrell picked off Reid Brignac at second base in the third inning. … C Carlos Corporan was charged with a passed ball in the fifth inning. … RHP Josh Fields is having a strong spring. He struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning. … SS Jonathan Villar went 2-for-4, and C Jason Castro was 2-for-3.

Quotable: “It takes three pitches to strike somebody out and one pitch to have them hit a ground ball,” — Astros manager Bo Porter when asked about Harrell not having any strikeouts.

Up next: RHP Scott Feldman, who will start for the Astros on Opening Day against the Yankees on April 1, will make his second-to-last start of the spring when the Astros face the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday at Osceola County Stadium. He’s scheduled to throw 90 pitches across six or seven innings

Injuries: RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Full story and video: Astros cut six prized prospects from camp.

Oberholtzer and Cosart to follow Feldman in rotation

X-rays show no fracture for Correa

Tweets of the day:

Game 15: Tigers jump all over Harrell, Astros

The fact:  The Tigers pounded out 18 hits, jumping on Astros starter Lucas Harrell for 10 runs in the first two innings, to beat Houston, 14-3, on Saturday in Lakeland, Fla. (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell still has some work to do. Harrell found himself in trouble from the get-go and wound up allowing 12 hits and 10 runs (nine earned) in 1 2/3 innings. The Tigers definitely hit some balls hard — Ian Kinsler hit the first of his two homers off Harrell — but he did give up some weak contact for hits and didn’t have a few plays made behind him.

“Sometimes things go your way when you’re getting ground balls, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Harrell said. “Just one of those things today even though I was making pitches, sometimes you have tip your cap. They made better hits.”

Here’s more on Harrell.

Player of the game: LF Robbie Grossman. He went 2-for-3 and socked his first homer of the spring in the fourth inning, coming against 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Grossman is hitting .417 this spring.

What went wrong: Harrell certainly didn’t have his best stuff, putting the Astros in a 10-1 hole after two innings. … Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler homered off Harrell and RHP Chad Qualls, and Tigers CF Tyler Collins had a single, triple and a homer, which came against RHP Josh Zeid. … RHP Peter Moylan walked the first two hitters he faced and wound up giving up a run on a sac fly.

Notable: IF Marwin Gonzalez kept his strong spring going by hitting a double off the wall in his only at-bat. He’s hitting .481. … Jesus Guzman started at third and was charged with an error. He also couldn’t handle a pair of grounders in the first inning that went for hits, but perhaps could have been played into outs.

Quotable: “They put some good swings on the ball, throughout the course of the day, not just in the first couple of innings,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.

Up next: Right-hander Brad Peacock makes his second start of the spring when the Astros return home to face the split-squad Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Kissimmee, Fla. Peacock, who was roughed up for five earned runs and four hits in one inning of work in his only spring start March 1 against the Tigers in Lakeland, needs a strong outing to bolster his candidacy to break camp with a spot in the starting rotation. He’s pitched in a pair of Minor League games since his last Grapefruit League start.

Injuries: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Marwin Gonzalez has put himself in good spot to make the team

Peter Moylan knows spring work isn’t yet done

GM Jeff Luhnow sees Rodon on scouting trip

Mark Appel could see game action in a week

Tweets of the day:

Pictures of the day:

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George Springer signs for a fan

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Jim Leyland, Brad Ausmus and Chad Qualls

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Robert Ford interviews Gregario Petit

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Matt Albers and Peter Moylan

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L.J. Hoes fools around with George Springer

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L.J. Hoes, Jon Singleton

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Darin Downs visits with former manager Jim Leyland

Game 8: Long day against the Yankees

The fact: The split-squad Astros banged out 12 hits and committed three errors in a 9-6 loss to the Yankees on Saturday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Meanwhile, in Clearwater, the other Astros team lost, 11-3, to the Phillies (boxscore). That was despite LHP Dallas Keuchel throwing three hitless innings. But more on the game in Kissimmee…

What we learned: RHP Jarred Cosart’s focus on Saturday was his curveball, which is why he wasn’t too worried about the results, giving up two hits and two runs (one earned) in 1 2/3 innings of work.

Cosart said he’s been working with pitching coach Brent Strom on establishing his curveball the last few days because he thinks it could get hitters off his fastball if he can throw more strikes. He threw75 percent strikes with his curveball in the first inning and 65 percent in the second inning.

“Brent told me if I can do that throughout the year, I’m going to have a lot of success,” Cosart said. “They’re really not worried about the fastball as much right now because they think it’s going to be there, and I do, too. But at the same time, I’ve still got to throw more strikes.

Player of the game: DH Chris Carter. The big guy slugged his first home run of the spring, clubbing a three-run shot in the fifth inning that gave the Astros a 6-4 lead they couldn’t keep. Carter has been working on hitting more line drives this offseason.

“It’s just good to show that everything you worked on in and everything you worked on since you been here is coming together,” said Carter, who led the club with 29 homers last year. “I think I’m going to have a better this year with everything and be an all-around hitter.

What went wrong: The Astros were sloppy on defense. CF Dexter Fowler’s throw to the infield rolled into the dugout, allowing two runs to score. 2B Jose Altuve committed an error in the second that led to a run, and 1B Telvin Nash — a Minor Leaguer — mysteriously threw home when he had a shot at an inning-ending double play. SS Jonathan Villar also made his third error of the spring. … RHP Jose Cisnero, LHP Darin Downs and RHP Jake Buchanan each had rough days on the mound.

Notable: CF Dexter Fowler, 2B Jose Altuve and C Jason Castro, the top three hitters in the Astros lineup, went a combined combined 4-for-9. For Castro, it was his first hit of the spring after starting 0-for-10. … 3B-2B Cesar Izturis went 2-for-3 and could be a solid addition if he makes the club. … 1B Marc Krauss went 1-for-2 and is hitting .529 (9-for-17).

Quotable: “There was some fundamental things we need to get cleaned up, but I’ll you, I thought we swung the bat well. Altuve and Dexter swung the bat well early in the game and Carter with the big three-run homer. Krauss continues to swing the bat well. We did have a couple of fundamental things that led to a couple of extra outs for the other teams, and we’ll get those things cleaned up,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.

Up next: Left-hander Rudy Owens, who was roughed up in his first career Major League Spring Training start earlier this week, will get the ball for the Astros when they face the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium. Anthony Bass, Raul Valdes, Matt Albers and Kevin Chapman are also scheduled to throw.

Injuries: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Porter unsuccessful in his first challenge of the spring

Jack Armstrong Jr., no longer a pitcher, trying his hand at first base

Tweets of the day:

Pictures of the day:

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Dexter Fowler gives Lucas Harrell a visual aid

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Harrell and Fowler help each other

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George Springer

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Springer follows through

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Correa follows through

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Correa

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Correa

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Correa talks to Geoff Blum, Jim Crane

Game 6: Scherzer, Tigers shut down Astros

What happened: RHP Max Scherzer and five Tigers relievers combined to beat the Astros, 3-0, on a three-hit shutout in Kissimmee (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell‘s sinker is coming along nicely. As we all know, Harrell’s sinker, which betrayed him so often last year, is the key to his success. He threw three innings and recorded six ground-ball outs.

“That was a huge thing for me today,” Harrell said. “I didn’t have one ball hit into the air. The defense behind me played great. [Third baseman Matt] Dominguez made a couple of nice plays, and [shortstop Carlos] Correa made a nice play and almost got up and threw a guy out in the first inning, so it was really nice to see those guys laying it out and getting dirty for the ball.”

What we learned II: Overall, manager Bo Porter is happy with the kind of baseball the Astros are playing at this point in the spring. Sure, they were held to three hits Wednesday, but he lauded the at-bats and deep counts.

“I think that these guys are really honing into the strike zone and understanding who they are,” he said. “I think that the pitches in which we are attacking are the right pitches. Sometimes you’re going to have days in which you attack the right pitch and you don’t square the ball up or you don’t get a hit. I feel like I all facets of the game, we’re playing good baseball.”

What else: 2B Jose Altuve had the only hit against Scherzer, and LF J.D. Martinez added a single later in the game. LF Robbie Grossman had the only other hit, a double. … RHPs Chad Qualls and Jose Ciserno each threw a scoreless inning, and RHP Mike Foltynewicz threw two scoreless innings while facing seven batters. … RHP Anthony Bass gave up two runs (one earned) and three hits in two innings.

What went wrong: 2B Marwin Gonzalez made an error, and RF George Springer had an error when he let a ball get past him in the outfield. … The Astros didn’t muster much offensively. It started with the Tigers’ Scherzer, who went three strong innings and allowed only an Altuve single.

“It all starts on the mound, and obviously he’s the reigning Cy Young Award winner,” Porter said. “He has great stuff, but I felt like our pitchers did a tremendous job today.

What they said: “His ability to strike people out, it’s unbelievable. You saw it last year on display. He’s got an electric fastball and a great slider. Maybe I could just take it all.” –Astros RHP Lucas Harrell on facing Scherzer. The two played with and against each other growing up in Missouri.

What’s next: RHP Brad Peacock makes his second appearance of the spring when the Astros face the Mets at 12:05 p.m. CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium. Peacock, who’s competing for a spot in the rotation, was rocked for five runs and four hits in one inning of work Friday at Detroit and struggled with fastball command.

Who’s injured: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jesse Crain (biceps tendon surgery recovery), OF Adron Chambers (hamstring strain), RHP Jorge De Leon (quad strain), LHP Raul Valdes (left knee surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Feature: Young relievers who debuted last year eager to contribute

Astros get glimpse of future with prospect-laden lineup

Fowler scratched from lineup with neck stiffness

Chambers ready to get on the field

Pipeline perspective: Springer too good not to star

Tweets of the day:

https://twitter.com/Folty25/status/441324903544156160

https://twitter.com/MAppel26/status/441190319527587840

https://twitter.com/MRLJHOES2U/status/441185084968669184

The day in photos:

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Jose Altuve and Enos Cabell

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Bo Porter and Craig Biggio

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Astros work on base running

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Craig Biggio plays catch with Jose Altuve

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Craig Biggio hits grounders during BP

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Jon Singleton and Robbie Grossman

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Future middle infield? Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve

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Former teammates Biggio, Ausmus and Blum in different roles

 

Game 2: Big inning dooms Peacock, Astros

What happened: The Astros fell to 1-1 in Grapefruit League play by losing to the Tigers, 5-1, on Saturday in Lakeland, Fla. (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Scott Feldman’s arm appears to be in great shape. The veteran pitcher said he usually has some resemblances  of a dead arm this time of year, but he threw two seamless innings Saturday in his start against Detroit. He allowed one hit and one walk, but was otherwise in the rocking chair.

“I threw quality strikes, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Feldman said. “It usually takes a little longer. We’re not going to get away with too many mistakes once the season starts. Right now, I think the pitchers are a little bit ahead of the hitters and all that stuff catches up, and hopefully by the end of the spring I’ll be able to hit my spots and throw the ball where I need to be.”

What else: RHP Mike Foltynewicz finished the game with two scoreless innings and was very impressive, allowing just one hit and no walks. … RHP Jason Stoffel threw a scoreless inning. … RHP Collin McHugh threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits.

What went wrong: The Astros were 4-for-31 against the Tigers, managing singles by Max Stassi, Brett Wallace and George Springer and a double by Carlos Correa, who scored the only run on a Wallace ground out. … RHP Brad Peacock allowed five runs and four hits in one inning of work while he struggled with fastball command.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to get back on the mound and face some hitters and see where I’m at,” Peacock said. “I have a lot of work to do.”

What they said: “When that ball fell in center field, I told him ‘That’s what you call living right,'” manager Bo Porter on SS Carlos Correa’s fifth-inning double.

What’s next: The Astros play their Grapefruit League home opener when they face the split-squad Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla. Right-hander Jarred Cosart, who went 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts in his Major League debut last year, will throw for the first time this spring and pitched two scheduled innings.

Who’s injured: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jessse Crain (calf strain/biceps tendon surgery recovery), OF Adron Chambers (hamstring strain), RHP Jorge De Leon (quad strain), LHP Raul Valdes (left knee surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

DeShields turns to Fowler for outfield advice

Porter getting prepared for new replay rules

DeShields, Springer show off their speed

Ausmus sees little familiarity with current Astros

Tweets of the day:

The day in photos:

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Carlos Correa and Jonathan Villar

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Domingo Santana and Carlos Correa

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Steve Sparks and Brad Ausmus

Game 1: Astros pile up runs, hits against Braves

What happened: The Astros bashed out 12 hits to beat the Braves, 7-5, in their Grapefruit League opener Friday in Lake Buena vista, Fla. (boxscore).

What we learned: The Astros’ approach of practice situational hitting during batting practice appears to have paid off. The Astros were a solid 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

“I felt like offensively we had some really good at-bats,” manager Bo Porter said. “We did a tremendous job of situational hitting. When you look at a lot of the situations we put these guys in throughout the course of the first week, week and a half of Spring Training, it was pretty evident they came up real quick today. Man on second base, nobody out. Man on third base, less than two outs. I felt like offensively we really strong together some good ABs.”

What we learned II: RHP Lucas Harrell, who threw 50 pitches in two innings of work, was encouraged by his first outing, which focused on mainly sinkers and changeups. He allowed the Braves to load the bases with no outs in the first inning and allowed just one run, and then he overcame a leadoff walk in the second with three quick outs, including a nice play by shortstop Jonathan Villar.

“I think the second inning was definitely back to normal, what I was in 2012,” Harrell said. “I was pretty encouraged by that.”

What we learned III: Seeing Carlos Correa (SS), Delino DeShields Jr. (CF) and George Springer (RF) all on the field at the same time is rather exciting. All three entered the game in the fifth inning. DeShields and Spinger came on as pinch-runners and both immediately stole bases.

What else: C Max Stassi showed some nice opposite-field pop with a double high off the right-field wall. That came moments after he nearly homered down the right-field line, but watched it go foul. … RF Marc Krauss was the only Astros player with two outs, going 2-for-3. … RF George Springer replaced Krauss in the fifth inning and wound up stealing two bases. Delino DeShields Jr. also had a steal. … Peter Moylan, Darin Downs and Chia-Jen Lo each threw scoreless innings.

What went wrong: The Astros did run into a couple of outs on the bases, but Bo Porter didn’t mind the aggressiveness. … Paul Clemens gave up five hits and two runs in two innings. … Rudy Owens allowed a solo homer.

What they said: “He was floating. It didn’t even look like he was running that fast,”Dexter Fowler on Delino DeShields Jr.’s stolen base in the fifth inning.

What’s next: RHP Scott Feldman, who signed a three-year, $30-million contract with the Astros this offseason, makes his debut for Houston when it travels to Lakeland, Fla., to face the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday. Feldman pitched for the Rangers from 2005-12 before splitting last year between the Cubs and Orioles. He’s likely going to be the Astros’ Opening Day starter.

Who’s injured: RHP Mark Appel (recovering from appendectomy), RHP Asher Wojciechowski (lat strain), RHP Jessse Crain (calf strain/biceps tendon surgery recovery), OF Adron Chambers (hamstring strain), RHP Jorge De Leon (quad strain), LHP Raul Valdes (left knee surgery recovery).

Links of the day:

Feature story and video: No one knows Astros evolution better than Jason Castro.

Notes: Japhet Amador reports to camp, Moylan’s career launched at Champion Stadium, Luhnow to speak at analytics conference, Wojciechowki hopes PRP injection does the trick.

Tweets of the day:

The day in photos:

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Japhet Amador

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Will Tony DeFrancesco get to manage Carlos Correa this year?

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Carlos Correa signs autograph for Astros fan Michael Savage

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Former teammates Matt Albers and Chris Johnson

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Delino DeShields

Astros relievers show their stuff

Eight relief pitchers took the mound for one-inning stints for hthe Astros on Thursday night during an intrasquad game at Osceola County Stadium. The Astros open Grapefruit League play at 5:05 p.m. CT on Friday against the Braves in nearby Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with Lucas Harrell scheduled to start and throw 45 pitches or two innings.

Bobby Doran, Josh Zeid, Jason Stoffel and Rhiner Cruz pitched for Team Everett, and Chad Qualls, Anthony Bass, Kevin Chapman and Luis Cruz threw for Team Ensberg. The goal for the pitchers in each inning was to try to protect a 2-1 lead.

The only run scored when Carlos Correa hit a grounder up the middle that scored Delino DeShields Jr., who flashed his wheels.

“It was pretty good,” manager Bo Porter said. “I felt like the pitchers did a tremendous job, even a couple of guys who got in trouble, you talk about being able to induce ground balls. I felt like the double plays were huge. When they did get in trouble they were able to induce the ground balls and get the double plays.”

The situational intrasquad game was yet another example of how the Astros have tried to better the focus this spring.

“They continue to do a great job,” Porter said. “Putting these guys in these situations has increased intensity of camp, and I think it’s going to bode well as we move into forward that now they’re ready to play baseball games because of the way we’ve run camp in these first 11 days,” Porter said.

Here are some links:

Astros expect Amador in camp Friday

Meyer embraces the nickname “Yeti”

Tropeano enjoying first big league camp

Correa learning from vet Izturis

Here’s the lineup for Friday’s Grapefruit League opener:

CF Dexter Fowler

2B Jose Altuve

RF Marc Krauss

DH Chris Carter

1B Brett Wallace

3B Matt Dominguez

C Carlos Corporan

LF Robbie Grossman

SS Jonathan Villar

Here are the photos of the day:

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Brett Wallace gets acrobatic

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Jarred Cosart and Matt Albers

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Pitching coach Brent Strom gets hands on with Jorge De Leon

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Tony De Francesco and Domingo Santana

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First base coach Tarrick Brock explains base running

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Catching instructor Jeff Murphy throws BP

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Max Stassi

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Jason Castro and Dexter Fowler interact

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Jose Altuve places a hex on Jonathan Villar

Day 10: Astros have a little fun with hitting drill

In an effort to ramp up the intensity while promoting some camaraderie, Astros position players ended their workout Tuesday with a hitting competition that pitted a team picked by Jason Castro against a team picked by Brett Wallace.

The teams took turns batting against a pitching machine while trying to execute in different situations – squeeze bunts, man on third and one out, etc. – with manager Bo Porter standing  behind a net and playing umpire, determining whether the batted ball would have done the job in real life.

Each team was awarded points for proper execution, and Wallace’s team won the competition on a walk-off homer run by catcher Rene Garcia.

“I thought it was great,” Porter said. “Those guys started ragging each other a little bit. It’s always good to add a little fun to Spring Training, but at the same time you keep it intense and competitive, and I felt the guys did a great job.”

The losing team had to pick up more than 500 baseballs that were scattered around the outfield and the bullpens, while the winning team headed to the clubhouse.

“We’ve been working on a lot of those situations,” Wallace said. “It’s been a big focus for us this whole camp for everybody. Not only was it like competing against yourself, the guys in your group, but you’re putting the whole team in a real competitive situations.

“It’s the closest we’re going to get to a game right now. Any time you’re out on the field in a separate dugout competing against each other, it’s going to make it more real.

Garcia proved to be an unlikely hero.

“He called it, too,” Wallace said. “After everybody went through [and hit], you could pick who you wanted to go up. I went a couple of times and some other guys went up, and Rene was like, ‘I got it, I want to go.’ He called it and requested it and went up there and delivered. It’s pretty neat he did that.”

Check out these links:

Feature story and video: J.D. Martinez has revamped his swing from head to toe…literally.

Asher Wojciechowski not rushing back from injury.

Hitting competition light-hearted fun for Astros.

Update on Jesse Crain status.

Altuve, Izturis and Corporan give advice to Latin players.

Scouting season is heating up, says scouting director Mike Elias.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Carlos Perez

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Lucas Harrell

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Nick Tropeano

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Josh Fields

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Jerome Williams

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Cesar Izturis and Jose Altuve

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Dallas Keuchel

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Cesar Izturis

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Field filled with balls awaiting loser of hitting drill

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Jonathan Singleton

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Bo Porter and staff and players watch hitting competition

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Carlos Correa holds a young fan

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Astros mob Rene Garcia after his walk-off homer

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