Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’
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.”
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.”
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:
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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:
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.
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