Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’

Porter not happy following defensive drills

The Astros had to alter their schedule Saturday because of early-morning rain showers, with the pitchers throwing live batting practice first to make sure they got their work in before more rain fell. As far as the position players are concerned, they took batting practice and then worked in a large group focusing on defensive drills.

“We had some weather early on, so we wanted to make sure our pitchers that were scheduled to throw live, we wanted to keep them on schedule,” manager Bo Porter said. “We were able to get that in, and it turned into a defensive day from that point on.”

Porter said the defense needs improvement, which meant the players weren’t able to give each other the post-workout “Astros win!” handshake.

“We didn’t execute, and that’s why we actually turning into a day of execution from the defensive side of it,” Porter said. “We all understand the game of baseball. It’s about runs being scored, and I’m a firm believer that the best offense is a good defense. We have to defend the baseball.”

That’s more about just making the throws or fielding cleanly, Porter said.

“We’ve explained this to our guys, from a defensive standpoint it’s not just the physical aspect of making the plays,” he said. “There are a lot of mental things that go into positioning, situations, understanding what to do, what not to do, given the situation. We’re going to put our guys in as many of those situations as possible throughout the course of the spring to try to emphasize the importance of these decisions based on situations.”

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Jason Castro gears up

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Paul Clemens throws

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Pitching coach Brent Strom shows pleasure with Clemens

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Adron Chambers holds court

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Jason Castro takes batting practice

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Marwin Gonzalez watches play unfold

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Players watch workouts from dugout

Day 6: Feldman among those throwing to hitters

The goal for Astros pitcher Scott Feldman was to simply not hit anybody. Feldman and a handful of other pitchers faced live hitters for the first time Friday, throwing for about 15 minutes on the back fields against teammates.

“You’re just getting reacquainted with the mound and seeing hitters out there and trying to get all my pitches over and work with the catchers a little bit,” Feldman said. “Trying not to hit anybody is probably the most important thing.”

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Feldman throws to hitters

In years past, hitters would typically stand in the box during the first days of live batting practice and simply track the pitches with their eyes. The Astros this year gave hitters certain in-game scenarios to focus on when they stepped into the box.

“Throughout the years, it’s been called pitching practice, and the hitters would get in there and see their five pitches and get out,” manager Bo Porter said. “It’s something as a staff we talked about and wanted to try to get a little bit more out of that situation, so our hitting coaches put together a program that put these guys into situations and counts to intensify it for the hitter.”

Porter says it allows the hitters to sharpen their mind while the pitchers get their work in, as well.

“You train yourself from a mental standpoint of executing that situation,” he said.

Here’s the day in pictures:

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Dave Trembley and Adam Everett

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Bullpen coach Craig Bjornson sounds the horn

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Cesar Izturis

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Bench coach Dave Trembley talks to pitchers

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Adam Everett works with Matt Dominguez

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Matt Albers and Peter Moylan

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Marc Krauss

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Astros work on rundowns

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Tony DeFrancesco hits grounders

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More rundowns

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Doug Brocail and J.D. Martinez

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Rene Garcia

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Dave Trembley and Bo Porter talk

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John Mallee talks to hitters

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Chia-Jen Lo does an interview

Day 4: Clemens works with Astros pitchers

With almost all of the position players have reported to camp Wednesday, the Astros will hit the field Thursday for the first full-squad workout of the spring. There was no shortage of news Wednesday, with the arrival of Roger Clemens, a calf injury to Jesse Crain and news Japhet Amador wasn’t reporting.

Many position players have been here for days, hitting in the cages and on the field in groups later in the day. They’ll be hard at it Thursday doing defensive drills and conditioning working along with the pitchers and catchers, who have four days of camp under their belts.

“When you have this many guys show up early, it almost feels like you’ve had a full workout just because we had so many guys that are here,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “I just got finished commending the position players. It’s not every day you have pretty much your entire contingent of position players show up two, three, four days early and have the type of workouts and size of workouts they’ve been able to have.

“I think after we’ve had so many guys here already, it almost feels like we’ve had the whole team here.”

One player who had yet to report to camp as of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday was first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who was expected to be on the field Thursday.

“I think he will be here,” Porter said. “One of the guys told me they went to call him and the phone went to voice mail, so they think he’s on his way here on a flight. … I commend those guys who came in early, but at the same time it is voluntary and you don’t have to be here until Thursday.”

Porter will have different groups of position players lead the daily “break point” drills, when the players are given an in-game scenario to execute at the end of workouts. And like last year, there will be the daily shaking of hands on the field reminiscent of what takes place when the Astros win.

“We’re looking forward to it as a staff, and I’m pretty sure the players will be excited about it,” he said

Porter said he plans to address the full squad Thursday like he did five days earlier when pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time. Owner Jim Crane is not expected to be in camp Thursday to talk to the team.

“I’ve said this to the catchers and pitchers and the position players will hear the same message tomorrow,” Porter said. “The training wheels are off. It’s either you can ride a bike without training wheels or you’ll find down and we’ll pick you up and get you on your way.”

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Clemens with Castro, Cosart

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Hitting coordinator Jeff Albert and hitting coach John Mallee

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Pitchers throwing bullpens

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Jerome Williams and Roger Clemens

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David Stearns, Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter watch workouts

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Roger Clemens and Lucas Harrell

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Rudy Owens

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Pitching coach Brent Strom and Roger Clemens

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Jerome Williams

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Lucas Harrell

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Roger Clemens holds court

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Pitching coach Brent Strom gets animated

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Kevin Chapman warms up

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Bo Porter and Roger Clemens

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Roger Clemens watches Lucas Harrell

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Carlos Munoz

Astros morning update: Porter likes competition

Though you’ll never hear anyone say it, a handful of the 65 players the Astros have in camp have little to no chance to make the Opening Day roster. Some are prospects who have yet to get their feet wet in Triple-A, and there are non-players who were signed to fill out some depth on Minor League rosters.

For a team that suffered 111 losses last year, the Astros have surprisingly little competition outside of their starting rotation and bullpen. Of the eight field positions, right field and first base have the most uncertainty, though manager Bo Porter said Tuesday that only center field, second base and catcher are sure things at this point.

“When you start to answer the question on the second or third day of Spring Training of this person definitely playing this position, we pretty much have competition going at every position,” he said. “If I had to look at our roster, I would look at say from a position-player standpoint Dexter Fowler is going to play center field, Jose Altuve is going to play second base and Jason Castro is going to catch.

“Outside of that, you can look at all the positions and you can say that there is some competition. It may be more competition at one position than the other, but competition is great. Competition is not what takes place between one player or two players or three players. Man to a man, you ask all these guys in the clubhouse, they’re competing with themselves as well to put up their best performance to show that they deserve to be a starter in the Major Leagues.”

But at this point it would likely take an injury or trade to keep third baseman Matt Dominguez, designated hitter Chris Carter and shortstop Jonathan Villar from starting at their positions. Robbie Grossman is the expected starter in left field

Day 2: Youth is served at Astros camp

As positions players continue to trickle in to Astros camp, the club welcomed former No. 1 overall Draft pick Carlos Correa into the fold on Monday. Correa showed up two days ahead of the reporting date for position players and took batting practice with a large group of players.

“It feels great,” Correa said. “It’s a whole new experience for me, being out here with these kinds of players in big league camp. It’s a really good experience for me, something unbelievable.”

Correa joins fellow former No. 1 overall pick – pitcher Mark Appel, who was taken with the top stop last year – and top prospects George Springer and Mike Foltynewicz in camp this year. It’s the first Major League camp for all but Springer.

“They get an opportunity to participate in Major League Spring Training and get around Major League players that have experience, who have been productive at this level,” manager Bo Porter said. “I actually think it can only speed up their learning curve to be around veteran guys who have done the job in which one day they aspire to do.”

Among the other position players showing up at camp Monday were outfielder L.J. Hoes and designated hitter Chris Carter.

Check out later today for more information on these items:

  • RHP Alex White threw his third session of live batting practice since undergoing Tommy John surgery nearly a year.
  • RHP Jesse Crain gave an update on where stands following biceps tendon surgery in October.
  • OF Delino DeShields was all smiles Monday, one day after his younger sister, Diamond, scored 38 points for the University of North Carolina in a win over North Carolina State.

Now the day in pictures:

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Dallas Keuchel

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Pitching coach Brent Strom watches Peter Moylan

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Brett Oberholtzer

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Carlos Correa

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Bo Porter signs autographs

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Alex White throws live BP

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Carlos Correa

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Jose Altuve

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Brett Wallace

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1B coach Tarrik Brock and Dexter Fowler

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George Springer

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Carlos Correa

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Bo Porter jokes with George Springer


Day 1: Porter gets first look at pitchers

We wait all winter for Spring Training, and the first day of workouts is usually anti-climatic. That can be good news considering it means no one got injured and everyone showed up on time, so the fact there was no news coming off the back fields at Osceola Country Stadium on Sunday was definitely good news for the Astros.

Three groups of pitchers got on the mound for the first time, including Scott Feldman, Brad Peacock and Chad Qualls, while all the pitchers worked on fielding practice. Meanwhile, position players who have reported early — a group that’s approaching 20 — hit in the cages and then took batting practice on the back fields. That included newcomer Dexter Fowler, who showed up at camp Sunday to meet his new team.

“This is a time where we have several new guys in camp and I wanted to try to place eyes on as many of the new guys as possible,” said Astros manager Bo Porter, who wandered around the fields. “When you look at the groups, they’re split up to a point where it allows me the opportunity to rove and get to see some bullpens in certain groups and get to see PFP [pitcher fielding practice] in some of the other groups.”

Porter stressed to the pitchers earlier in the day to not try to do too much on the first day. No one is going to make the club throwing in the bullpen.

“The last thing you want is a guy to come out here and try to impress and end up blowing out in the bullpen and not even in a game where the competition is taking place,” Porter said. “I thought the guys did a good job of being as crisp as you could without being 100 percent as far as effort goes, as far as letting the ball go. That’s what you want in your first bullpen session.”

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Scott Feldman in bullpen

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Brad Peacock in bullpen

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Bo Porter models a new look

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Jason Stoffel fires one high

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J.D. Martinez signs autographs

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Bobby Doran works on fielding

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Paul Clemens throws to first

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Dallas Keuchel fields a comebacker

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Delino DeShields Jr. signs autographs

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Jose Altuve takes BP for first time

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Dexter Fowler takes BP from left side


Veteran leadership key as workouts begin

Prior to Astros pitchers and catchers taking the field for the first time Sunday morning on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium, manager Bo Porter met with a group of veteran pitchers he identified as being the leaders of the staff.

Porter sat down with Lucas Harrell, Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Jerome Williams and Peter Moylan and told them he wants them to set a good example for the youngsters. They’ll also be involved in some of the morning meetings.

“You look at that group, and it’s guys that had success at the Major League level, they’re veteran guys,” Porter said. “I explained to them, ‘We’re not looking for one leader. We’re looking for a group of leaders.’ This is an unusual situation. A lot of those guys have come here from other organizations. Chad and Albers are a little bit different because they were here at one time and came back. Lucas has been here.

“I wanted to stress to them that this organization and where we’re at right now, it’s not like we have the [Craig] Biggios, the [Jeff] Bagwells, the guys that have been here for many years and you can say, ‘Hey, follow these guys. They know the Astros way.’ We are in the process of creating the Astros way, and our younger guys, I want to make sure they’re following the right people.

“I stressed that to our veteran guys. When you are a young players – and we’ve all been there before – you look around the clubhouse and say, ‘Wow, this guy’s been here 10 years. I wonder how he’s been able to accomplish that?’ Because you’re young, you’re impressionable and you’re going to watch that guy and watch that every move. I told those guys, ‘You will do more by whatever it is you do than you do than by whatever it is that you say.’ So make sure that your actions match what it is you’re saying each and every day.”

While the pitchers did their morning stretch work, Porter emphasized how happy he was that camp was finally underway following an offseason full of roster moves.

“I probably looked at the roster 1,000 times,” he said. “That’s what you do each and every day. You go to the ballpark and sit up at night and you think about the players. It’s good to have the group of talented guys we have here, but more importantly it’s good to be out here and getting started with the 2014 season.”

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Clemens and Moylan emerge

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Harrell heads to field

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Wojciechowski walks to field

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Castro gets in gear

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Rhiner Cruz

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Qualls is back in Kissimmee

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Porter talks with Appel and Stassi

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Corporan mugs for the camera

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Pitchers do morning exercises

Astros pitchers and catchers report to Kissimmee

Astros pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training on Saturday. Here are some notes, as well as some photos:

White progressing steadily

Right-hander Alex White continues to progress steadily from the Tommy John surgery he underwent nearly a year ago. White threw batting practice Friday, tossing 23 pitches, including some changeups to a few hitters.

“We’re coming along pretty good,” he said. “My off-speed stuff is really good, and I’m waiting on the fastball to come along. I think it will come. We’re really just at 10 months right now. A couple of more months we should be there.”

Off-season work beneficial to Castro

Considering he had more time to work out this off-season, All-Star catcher Jason Castro is coming to camp with his surgically repaired right knee feeling stronger than it was even a year ago.

“I put in a lot of work this off-season and I feel like I put myself in a good spot coming back, even better than I was last year,” he said.

That’s a tremendous sign for Castro, who a year ago at this time said his knee was feeling 100 percent.

“I was able to work out for a longer period this off-season than I ever had,” said Castro, who earned a degree from Stanford in the off-season. “I was back in school pretty much right after the season ended, and I was recovering and doing some rehab stuff. I started my off-season.”

Appel recovering from appendectomy

Astros pitcher Mark Appel is still a little sore, but otherwise on the road to recovery after having to undergo an appendectomy Jan. 30 in Houston.

Appel, who lived with his parents in Houston in the off-season, woke up in the middle of the night and thought he had indigestion. The pain lingered, and he soon rustled his father in his sleep to tell him to take him to the hospital.

“Usually if I have food poisoning, I’ll just grab some Tums or something like that,” he said. “I did that after the first time I threw up, and I woke up again maybe an hour later and the same thing and the pain’s worse. I knew something was up, and I just said, ‘Hey dad, I think we need to go to the emergency room to be sure.’ Sure enough, I had appendicitis. It was pretty crazy.”

Wallace focusing on making roster

The fact that Brett Wallace is in camp this year as a non-roster invitee after being designed for assignment last week doesn’t change his mindset: he’s coming to camp to try to win the starting job at first base.

“It’s something I’ve never been through,” he said. “I had some friends and people you play with go through it. It’s definitely a new process but something that, honestly, I can’t control. In the same aspect, I’m coming in camp to win a job. I’m going to keep my head down and keep working and then whatever is happening with all that, I just try to put it to the side and keep preparing.”

Here are some photos:

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Jeff Luhnow, Jesse Crain, Peter Moylan

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Doug Brocail, Peter Moylan

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Josh Zeid throws to C.J. Lo

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Astros have names on the backs of spring jerseys this year

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George Springer tries on his new helmet

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Jason Castro hugs Matt Dominguez as Brett Wallace stands near

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Jason Castro talks to reporters

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Jason Castro finding new storage space

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Jerome Williams does jumping jacks

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Paul Clemens throws to Nick Tropeano

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Jonathan Villar

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Matt Albers and Nick Tropeano

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Jarred Cosart tries on new hat with help from Steve Perry

Astros Spring Training schedule

Houston Astros 2014 Spring Training Schedule

Day, Date, Opponent (road site), Time ET

Friday, Feb. 28, at Atlanta (Lake Buena Vista), 6:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 1, at Detroit (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 2, vs. Atlanta (SS), 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 3, at Miami (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 4 at New York Mets (Port St. Lucie), 1:10 p.m.

Wednesday, March 5, Detroit, 1:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 6, New York Mets, 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 7, at Washington (Viera), 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 8, New York Yankees, 1:05 p.m./at Philadelphia (SS) (Clearwater), 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 9, Toronto, 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 10, at Washington (Viera), 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, OFF

Wednesday, March 12, Washington, 1:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 13, at Toronto (Dunedin), 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 14, St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 15, at Detroit (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 16, Washington (SS), 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 17, Atlanta, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 18, at Miami (at Jupiter) 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday, March 19, at Washington (at Viera) 6:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 20, Philadelphia (SS), 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 21, Miami, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 22, St. Louis, 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 23, at St. Louis (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 24, at Atlanta (Lake Buena Vista), 6:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 25, OFF

Wednesday, March 26, New York Mets, 6:05

Thursday, March 27, OFF

Friday, March 28, vs. Texas, San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 29, vs. Veracruz of Mexico, Minute Maid Park, 6:10 p.m./ vs. Texas, San Antonio, 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 30, Veracruz of Mexico, Minute Maid Park, 1:10 p.m.

Astros ready to break camp in Kissimmee

Philip Humber arrives at clubhouse

Philip Humber arrives at clubhouse

The players filed into the Major League clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium on Thursday morning like they’ve done so many times the past seven weeks, this time wearing slacks and sports coats and pulling large suitcases stuffed with clothes. The last day of Spring Training has been circled on the calendar for quite a while, especially for those players who have been in Kissimmee for nearly two months.

The Astros have split-squad games Thursday against the Tigers in Kissimmee and Braves in Lake Buena Vista, but they will be one team when they board the team charter this evening and fly to Houston. Several of the Astros’ top Minor League players are heading to Texas with the Major League club to play in this weekend’s games against the Cubs, including Carlos Correa, Jonathan Singleton, George Springer and Delino DeSheids Jr.

No one is more excited to get home than veterans like Wesley Wright, who are eager to put on the Astros’ new uniforms and play before the home crowd. The Astros will play the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday night at Minute Maid Park and 1:05 p.m. Saturday before opening the season against the Rangers on Sunday at 7:05 p.m. on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Bud Norris will make his first Opening Day start against the Astros, facing Texas lefty Matt Harrrison

“I’m actually pretty anxious myself,” Wright said. “It’s been a little bit of a long Spring Training and I know everybody else is ready to get out of here and play some games that actually count towards the overall goal. We’ve had a good spring so far and that’s a good starting point. There’s a bigger picture out there we have to take care of and we’re excited to get started.”

Designated hitter Carlos Pena, who signed with the Astros in the offseason, is eager to get to Houston.

“We value the time we have here to get ready for the season, but I think everyone is looking forward to getting it going,” he said. “It’s part of the whole process, you know? It’s about time for us to move over to Minute Maid and play a couple of games and get ready for the season. I don’t think anyone is eager to rush it, but at the same time we’re glad we’re moving to the next step.”

Astros lineup vs. Tigers in Kissimmee:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Rick Ankiel

DH Carlos Pena

LF Chris Carter

1B Jonathan Singleton

RF Fernando Martinez

C Jason Castro

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Ronny Cedeno

RHP Philip Humber

Astros lineup vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista:

RF Brandon Barnes

1B Brett Wallace

CF Justin Maxwell

3B Brandon Laird

C Carlos Corporan

LF Trevor Crowe

SS Marwin Gonzalez

2B Jose Martinez

DH Preston Tucker

RHP Lucas Harrell


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