Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’

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 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:

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

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