Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’

Game 7: Big inning lifts Astros past Yankees

What happened: Brandon Laird’s grand slam to right-center field in the sixth inning keyed a six-run outburst and propelled the Astros to a 7-6 win over the split-squad Yankees on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Here’s the video clip of Laird’s grand slam:

What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell has his sinker working. Harrell attacked the strike zone and coasted through three innings  against a Yankees team that didn’t have any of its marquee players. Still, Harrell was sharp and threw 32 pitches and then went to the bullpen and threw 20 more to get his work in.

“I was hoping I could go another inning,” he said. “I was hoping to get up to 50 pitches. I told [pitching coach Doug Brocail] before the game my goal is to try to throw around 50 pitches. You try to be efficient but sometimes at Spring Training it works the other way. You want to go ahead and throw the 50 pitches, but you also want to get those pitches in against live batters.”

What we learned II: OF Rick Ankiel is a little locked in right now. Ankiel, who’s having a terrific spring at the plate, led off the fifth inning with a solo homer — his first with the Astros. He is 6-for-9 this spring with 12 total bases.

“I just take it day by day on what pitches we’re seeing,” he said. “I feel like it’s early and [opposing pitchers] are working on their heaters, but later on in camp you’ll start seeing more breaking stuff, cutters, and that type of stuff. It might be more important to get at-bats later on as it is now.”

What else: A hustling double by OF Brandon Barnes drew praise from manager Bo Porter, who said: “He made the guy make a play to get him out. It was a great, aggressive play.” … The Astros had a pair of runners thrown out trying to steal, and Porter later said they missed a couple of signs. … The Astros turned three double plays, with SS Jonathan Villar and 2B Jose Altuve playing well up the middle.

What went wrong: RHP Ross Seaton made a throwing error in the sixth that was costly. He fielded a come-backer to the mound with one out, turned to fire to second and threw the ball away. It was a potential inning-ending double play ball, and the Yankees went on to score five runs in the inning.

“A 1-6-3 double play and the inning’s over,” Porter said. “We don’t execute it, and 32 pitches later the score is 5-1. … It’s the perfect example of how big innings happen and something we still continue to stress to our guys that you have to play the game fundamentally sound.”

What they said: “Everybody wants to be up in a situation like that. He was a guy that couldn’t find the zone and I was looking for a pitch that I could handle, and he left one over the plate and I put a good swing on it.” — IF Brandon Laird on his sixth-inning grand slam.

What’s next: RHP Bud Norris makes his second start of the spring when the Astros play host to the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium on Friday. Norris, who could be the club’s Opening Day starter, threw two innings in his first outing of the season on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch three innings against St. Louis. The game will be broadcast on CSN Houston.

Who’s injured: C Max Stassi underwent surgery Thursday morning in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia. He’s out four-to-six weeks. … RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) threw off the mound Thursday and is near game action.

Links of the day: Had RHP John Ely not been traded to the Astros, he’d be playing in Korea. The Astros notebook has Dave Clark’s thoughts on Chris Carter’s progress in LF, C Jason Castro discussing plate collisions, OF Jimmy Paredes talking about working out with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, and much more.

Tweet of the day:

The day in photos:

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Alan Ashby and Bill Brown brush up for first broadcast by talking to Bo Porter

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Roger Clemens, in boots and jeans, is back in camp

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Bud Norris gets conditioning work in

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Hector Ambriz throws as trainers watch

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J.D. Martinez having fun

Game 5: Springer leads offensive surge

What happened:  The Astros bashed out 18 hits, including a pair of home runs by George Springer in his first start of the spring, to beat the Blue Jays, 10-1, on Wednesday afternoon in Dunedin (boxscore).

What we learned: RHP Alex White will be a huge factor in the race for the rotation. White, acquired in last December’s trade that sent Wilton Lopez to the Rockies, threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut against a tough Blue Jays lineup, but his entire body of work this spring has opened some eyes.

“I put in a lot of time this offseason and made a lot of changes throughout my delivery to be more consistent,” White said. “I think now I’m just kind of seeing that I’ve put in the work and hopefully good things will happen. I have to make sure I throw a lot of strikes, and that’s the key.”

What we learned II: CF George Springer could be ready for prime time. Springer, who barely got his feet wet last year at Double-A, made his first spring start and clubbed a pair of impressive homers, a three-run shot in the fourth and a two-run shot in the fifth.

“It felt good,” he said. “I was trying to get my timing back and just hitting the ball hard. I honestly say the key to those at-bats were the guys who were on base ahead of me. [Matt] Dominguez and [Carlos] Corporan had some great at-bats and was able to get me into a fastball-hitting count.”

What we learned III: RHP Jarred Cosart is looking forward to getting a start. Cosart, a starter, has pitched twice in relief, throwing two scoreless innings Wednesday. He’s been piggybacking other starters, but should get a turn to start a game the next time through the rotation.

“It’s a little different as far as warming up and stuff,” he said. “I like to go out there pretty early before a game and get going. I’m in big league camp for the first time so I’ll go with my role and whatever they want me to do, I’ll do. I’ve adjusted well to it. We’ll see what happens from here, but hopefully I can get back in the starting routine.”

What else: Ten of the Astros’ 18 hits were for extra bases – eight doubles and two homers. … The Astros have 68 hits in six games. … C Carlos Corporan went 2-for-2 with two doubles and continues to draw praise from the pitchers. He’s hitting .667 early in the spring. … 1B Nate Freiman had a line drive double off center field wall, going 1-for-3 to raise his average to .385. … OF J.D. Martinez, starting in right field, had a pair of hits. … 3B Matt Dominguez went 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

What went wrong: Well, not much. Tyler Greene let a ball get past him at shortstop in the second, but the Astros wound up getting an out on the play to end the inning. … J.P. Arencibia homered off LHP Wesley Wright, who gave up three hits in one inning.

What they said: “Outstanding. He really laid into those two balls with really good swings and got the head out. I thought the second one was better than the first one. It was a good day all around. We swung the bat well and the pitching was outstanding.” – manager Bo Porter on Springer.

What’s next: RHP Lucas Harrell will become the first Astros starter to take the mound for the second time when he gets the ball for Thursday’s 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Yankees in Kissimmee. Harrell, the Astros’ Pitcher of the Year last season, went two innings and allowed four hits and two runs on Saturday against the Phillies in Clearwater in his first spring start. The game will be televised on CSN Houston with Alan Ashby making his return to the Houston airwaves.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) is scheduled to face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to get an MRI on Philadelphia on Wednesday for a possible sports hernia.

Links of the day: Check out the Astros notebook for Delino DeShields Jr. talking about getting to hit together in the lineup, prospect Telvin Nash on how/why he lost 30 pounds and the plan for J.D. Martinez to get time in right field.

And don’t miss the feature story on Wesley Wright, who has gone from Rule 5 pick to elder statesman in five years:

The day in photos

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Robbie Grossman

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J.D. Martinez

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MLB.com’s Richard Justice talks to Bo Porter

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GM Jeff Luhnow talks to bullpen coach Dennis Martinez

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Matt Dominguez

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Robert Ford interviews Nate Freiman

Game 4: Wallace, Castro stay hot in win over Tigers

What happened:  The split-squad Astros got a two-run homer from Jason Castro — his second in as many games — and a solo shot from Brett Wallace to pull away from the Tigers for a 9-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at rainy Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

For the game story and boxcore on the Astros’ 7-2 split-squad loss to the Rays in Port Charlotte, click here.

What we learned: C Jason Castro feels as good at the plate as he has in a long time, going 2-for-2. He homered to left-center field in his first at-bat and later singled, also to the opposite field. He has two homers in two games this spring. He’s made a minor adjustment to allow him to stay on the ball a little bit more and drive it the other way.

“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and been getting some good pitches, trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I know it’s early in spring and guys throw a lot of fastballs right now. I’m trying to take advantage of that and it’s been good so far. The swing feels really good and I think I’m seeing the ball well. So that’s part of it. That’s what I’m looking for right now is comfort-ability and getting back in the rhythm of hitting and facing live pitching.”

What we learned II: The work IF Brett Wallace put in during the winter with hitting coach John Mallee is paying quick dividends. Wallace went 3-for-4 with a long homer to center field in the win while starting at third base.

“The ball I hit to center was a changeup, and that was something we worked on, being able to stay on my legs and if it’s not a fastball down the middle that I won’t come out of them and I will stay back on them,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely something we worked on and it’s encouraging and I just have to try to repeat it over and over.”

What else: SS Tyler Greene did a nice job at top of the lineup with two walks. Porter said when you’re not getting hits you sometimes get anxious, but it was a good sign for him to expand the zone and take his walks. … RHP John Ely, who’s battling for a starting spot, allowed a two-run homer in the fourth before coming back with a clean fifth. … OF Michael Burgess, who was taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, made a nice diving catch in foul territory to end the game. … RHP Josh Fields got on the mound for the first time, closing out the eighth and finishing the Tigers off in the ninth. … OF Robbie Grossman and OF Trevor Crowe each had two-run extra-base hits in the fifth.

What went wrong: Wallace, starting at third base, made a fielding error in the fifth inning that led to a run, but manager Bo Porter shrugged it off: “I think he knocked in more than he let in.”… Minor League IF Nolan Fontana had a throwing error.

What they said: “From a hitter standpoint, this is the time of year that you really want to work  on being on time with the fastball. Castro laid out some great swings, [Rick] Ankiel laid out some good swings, Wallace swung the bat well today. From a pitching standpoint, our pitchers did a great job, especially the starters [Erik] Bedard and Ely, of locating their fastballs well,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.

Here’s Erik Bedard, Brett Wallace, Jason Castro and Bo Porter on the game:

What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired from the Rockies in a trade for Wilton Lopez in December, will make his first start of the season for the Astros when they travel to Dunedin, Fla., to meet the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Wednesday. He was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 23 games (20 starts) for Colorado last year.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to get an MRI and see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.

Links of the day: Jose Martinez, who was MVP at Double-A Corpus Christi last year, has overcame an unthinkable tragedy and has taken advantage of his second chance with the Astros. Here’s video of Martinez talking about his struggles:

The Astros notebook has Ambriz and Stassi talking about their injuries, prospects Nolan Fontana and Mike Foltynewicz on their appearance on the spring roster, Wallace on his comfort level at third base, plus much more.

The day in photos

Bud Norris.

My man Bud Norris.

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Delino DeShields.

Delino DeShields.

Brett Wallace.

Brett Wallace.

Dallas Keuchel.

Dallas Keuchel.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana and Robbie Grossman.

Max Stassi and Robbie Grossman.

Game 2: Astros rally to tie Mets

What happened: The Astros rallied from five runs down and scored once in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI hit by George Springer to finish in a 7-7 tie with the Mets (boxscore). The Mets were playing a split squad and didn’t have enough bodies to continue.

“It was great just to battle back and come back from an early deficit,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “The guys had great ABs and [ground] the at-bats out and really gave us a chance to win the game late in the ballgames.”

What we learned : C Jason Castro can really swing it when he’s healthy. This was the first winter Castro had to prepare for the season following his catastrophic knee injury of two years ago, and he homered in his second at-bat of the spring. Remember, he hit four homers in his final seven games of last year and has shown some pop.

“One of the things I noticed real early on in the spring by watching him catch bullpens and watching how he was moving around, he’s finally healthy,” Porter said. “He’s legs are underneath him. When your legs aren’t underneath you, it’s hard to drive a baseball. I think we’re now starting to see the Castro we all believed we were getting when we drafted him.”

What else: RHP Bud Norris battled while using just his fastball and change-up (he didn’t throw any breaking stuff). He located his pitches well and got his work in. … RHP Jose Veras missed some spots a few times, but he worked through a difficult inning. … 2B Delino DeShields Jr. made things happen with his legs when he pinch-ran at first, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch. He’s fun to watch. … RHP Chia-Jen Lo threw the ball well and was down in the zone consistently in the ninth inning and had an explosive fastball with late life. … OF Fernando Martinez homered in his first at-bat on Sunday. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a threat.

What went wrong: RHP Bud Norris and RHP Brad Peacock gave up homers and RHP Jose Veras struggled to find the zone at times, but it was the first time in a game for everyone that threw on Sunday so results aren’t as important as getting in the work.

“I struggled to find the strike zone the first couple of hitters, but I’m going to work at it every day and it will get better,” Peacock said. “I threw everything today. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but it will get better as spring goes on.”

What they said: “The first at-bat of spring, there’s always a lot of intensity and I just tried to relax my second at-bat. It definitely helped me free up my hands a little bit. I’m trying to go through the process and build up the results will come, but I’m really focusing on just getting to where I’m comfortable heading into the season.” — C Jason Castro, who was 1-for-2 with a homer.

What’s next: Right-hander Philip Humber makes his first start for the Astros when they travel to Jupiter, Fla., to meet the St. Louis Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT. Humber, a native Texan who played college baseball in Houston, signed a one-year deal with the Astros after being claimed off waivers.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) will travel to Philadelphia to see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.

Links of the day: Feature on Vince Coleman, the great base stealer who is in camp this year with the Astros as an outfield/baserunning instructor. The notebook has an update on health of Max Stassi, Trevor Crowe’s thoughts of coming to Houston and manager Bo Porter explaining how to defend a shift.

The day in photos

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Hitting coach John Mallee talks to a player.

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Matt Dominguez.

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Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez.

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J.D. Martinez and Justin Maxwell.

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Jason Castro and Carlos Corporan.

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Bo Porter.

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Jimmy Paredes.

Astros ready for game action

The Astros on Friday finished their final workout before they hit the field for their first Spring Training game of the season. They’ll battle the Philadelphia Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., where it promises to be a warm and sunny afternoon.

Lucas Harrell is scheduled to start the game for the Astros and will be one of about six or seven pitchers throwing, including Jarred Cosart. Cole Hamels is starting for the Phillies. Harrell was named the Astros Pitcher of the Year last season after going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts.

“I felt good in my last couple of sides and I felt good throwing in simulated games to the hitters, so hopefully I can take what I’m doing out to the game tomorrow,” Harrell said.

It’s only Spring Training, but getting on the mound to face other hitters is sure to increase the intensity.

“You always have a little bit of nerves,” Harrell said. “It’s always a little bit exciting. The fact is there’s a lot of guys competing for a job, and I’m one of them. Just to know that I need to go out there and pitch well and get one of those spots on the team, it’s one of those things I’ll definitely be really focused.”

Astros manager Bo Porter put the team through a shorter workout Friday after the players had a lengthy meeting with the Players’ Association.

“We worked on a lot of special plays today,” Porter said. “It was more of an explanation of shift defense, where does everybody go when you start to play these special coverages based on a hitter?”

Click here for the Astros notebook, which has information on Jose Veras playing in the World Baseball Classic, what went down at the MLBPA meeting and we catch up with former Astros player, Jose Cruz Jr. And here’s what Jonathan Singleton had to say in his first public comments since his suspension for marijuana, a suspension that will cost him 50 games.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Jose Ciserno.

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J.D. Martinez.

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Justin Maxwell.

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Justin Maxwell poses for a picture.

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Bo Porter talks to the team after the final workout of spring prior to games.

To the victors go the spoils…and banana splits

The Astros have spent all spring practicing their post-game handshakes, and on Thursday they got a chance to work on their walk-off win celebration.

Brandon Laird’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning capped a four-run rally to send Team Ensberg to a 5-4 win over Team Everett in an intrasquad game at Osceola County Stadium.

“Never say die with the ‘Stros,” manager Bo Porter said. “That’s outstanding. It was a great comeback with a lot of energy. It served a great purpose. They played the game the way it’s supposed to be played and took advantage of mistakes the other team made.”

Morgan Ensberg said: “Our motto the whole time is ‘That’s what we do, we win.’ I’ll be honest with you. It was the young guys that did it. Delino DeShields had some huge hits. Jake [Goebbert] in the bottom of the seventh hits the triple to tie it up. Chris Carter gets a couple of hits and Brandon Laird gets a couple of hits, and all of a sudden we’re partying on the field.”

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The losing team had to serve banana splits to the winning team.

“You want to turn it into a little bit of fun,” Porter said. “These guys have worked hard this entire camp and now we’re getting ready to play against opponents… We put a small wager on the line, something we all like — ice cream and banana splits.”

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Ensberg called it the biggest win of his managerial career, which isn’t hard to do when it’s your first game.

“The thing that’s impressive about it is my managerial style hurts the players, and the fact they could do something positive with me in the dugout is a testament to their mental fortitude,” he joked.

Here are the pictures from the intrasquad:

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Astros new radio team of Robert Ford and Steve Sparks.

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Coach Morgan Ensberg has already earned a name on his back.

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Players watch from the dugout.

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Carlos Corporan.

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Brandon Barnes connects.

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Jake Elmore.

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Brett Wallace

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Chris Carter.

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Vince Coleman.

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Chris Carter.

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Adam Everett.

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Bo Porter watches intrasquad.

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Veterans Jason Castro, Tyler Greene, Brett Wallace and Wesley Wright.

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To the victors go the spoils.

Players get their first win of spring

The day began with the five members of the media, including MLB.com’s Alyson Footer and myself, battling five Astros players in a friendly game of Family Feud. With the entire roster, field staff and spring staff in the clubhouse, the media and five players — Rick Ankiel, Jason Castro, Justin Maxwell, Carlos Pena and Nate Freiman — sat at tables facing each other.

Astros director of Florida operations Jay Edmiston served as host and manager Bo Porter used an air horn for wrong answers. The media stole the first question from the players, but Maxwell –who I need to point out attended Maryland over Harvard — crushed yours truly — who attended University of Houston over UTEP — in the speed round to give the players the win. Click here for a photo.

There was laughter, booing and cheering, and a good time was had by all.

As far as baseball goes, there will be an intrasquad game at 11 a.m. CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium, but manager Bo Porter has already unveiled his lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater.

SS Tyler Greene

2B Marwin Gonzalez

CF Justin Maxwell

1B Chris Carter

LF J.D. Martinez

DH Nate Freiman

3B Matt Dominguez

C Carlos Corporan

RF Trevor Crowe

——

RHP Lucas Harrell

These players are not making the trip: Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Max Stassi, Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace, Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez.

Porter said he wants the regular position players to get between 50 and 70 at-bats in games.

“Some guys may need more, some guys may need less,” he said. “A guy like Carlos Pena may feel like he’s locked in with a week to go in camp. Altuve may feel the same way, or he may say, ‘I need to play seven, eight, nine innings because I need extra at-bats.’”

Porter originally had Che-Hsuan Lin in right field against the Phillies, but when he told him Wednesday he was in the lineup, Porter was caught off guard.

“He says, ‘Bo, I’m not going to be here. I leave today,’” Porter said. “I said, ‘Leave? Leave to go where?’ He said, ‘To the World Baseball Classic.’ I knew he was going to the Classic, but I didn’t know he was leaving [Wednesday]. I was under the impression all the guys going to the Classic were going to leave on March 2. That was a little bit of a shock, but we’re glad that he’s going to play for his country, and represent his country and we’re in full support of that.”

Lin is playing for Chinese Taipei in the Classic.

Finally, today was photo day, which meant each player was rotated through several different photography stations. Here’s glimpse:

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Astros set for intrasquad

Nothing says Grapefruit League action is around the corner like a good, old-fashioned intrasquad game, which is what the Astros will do at 11 a.m. CT on Thursday at Osceola County Stadium. The teams, which are led by Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett, were drafted Wednesday morning:

Team Everett: Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene, Jason Castro, Fernando Martinez, Rick Ankiel, Brett Wallace, George Springer, Nate Freiman, Marwin Gonzalez.

Team Ensberg: Justin Maxwell, Matt Dominguez, Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, Jonathan Villar, J.D. Martinez, Delino DeShields, Carlos Corporan, Brandon Barnes.

There will be no pitchers throwing because the Astros are going to use a pitching machine that throws curveballs.

Today’s Astros notebook has Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid discussing how pumped up they are to face their former team on Saturday when the Astros play the Phillies, as well as plenty of other information. And don’t forget the story and video of Roger Clemens throwing live BP to hitters on Wednesday. If you think it’s silly, read what the hitters had to say.

Now the photos:

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Astros catcher pause between drills.

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Catcher Jason Castro prepares to throw.

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Nate Freiman holds a runner while Jose Valdez steps off the rubber.

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Group of players listen to instruction.

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Chris Carter gives a high five.

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Philip Humber winds it up.

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Roger Clemens helps Philip Humber with mechanics.

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Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Corporan rest after working.

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Doug Brocail mentors Rhiner Cruz.

Peacock impresses Porter in live batting practice

Astros pitchers have one more day of live batting practice Wednesday before they’ll appear in Grapefruit League games, beginning with Saturday’s opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Astros manager Bo Porter singled out right-hander Brad Peacock, acquired in a trade with Oakland earlier this month, as throwing the ball well.

“It was down in the zone,” he said. “Those guys [the group that pitched Tuesday] had their last live day, so they mixed in their breaking stuff and his breaking ball was good, change-up was good and his fastball was explosive with late life. It was good to see.”

Porter said Tuesday the club will use a pitching machine that throws nothing but curveballs in Thursday’s intrasquad game.

“As you take batting practice and even through live [BP], these guys haven’t taken too many swings off of breaking balls,” Porter said. “It’s one of those things that when you get to a game setting and you have the backdrop and the space and the field and all the cages and stuff like that removed, it’s always a good drill.”

The Astros will hold a draft Wednesday morning to pick teams for the intrasquad game, which will be held inside Osceola County Stadium and last about five or six innings. The teams will be called Team Everett and Team Ensberg, with Minor League instructors Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett serving as coaches.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Bo Porter and Roger Clemens.

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Bo Porter demonstrates a cut-off throw.

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Matt Dominguez prepares to catch a ball.

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Tyler Greene is all smiles after “‘Stros Win!”

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Rudy Owens hands out high fives.

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Hitting coach John Mallee talks to his guys.

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Carlos Pena mixes in an energy bar.

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Justin Maxwell adjusts his socks.

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Carlos Pena and bench coach Eduardo Perez talk.

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Bud Norris throws live batting practice.

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Roger Clemens and Doug Brocail talk to Brett Oberholtzer.

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Dave Clark stands over a group of players changing shoes.

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Jason Castro prepares to take his cuts.

Astros hitters face live pitching as Clemens arrives

The big news at Astros camp was the arrival of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who will be a frequent visitor to camp this year. The Astros have invited him back to help tutor their young pitchers, and he rolled up his sleeves and went to work on Sunday by watching pitchers throw live batting practice and offering advice to several young arms.

“Obviously, when someone like Roger is talking, you’re a sponge,” pitcher John Ely said.

Also, Astros owner Jim Crane had the thrill of a lifetime when he got the chance to play golf with both President Obama and Tiger Woods. Crane spoke to MLB.com about his great day.

Meanwhile, Sunday marked the first day hitters faced live pitching, and most of the hitters used the time to simply track pitches — watch them thrown into the catcher’s mitt — more than trying to hit, though there were a few who took some hacks on a cold day.

“I took a swing and squared up a line drive up the middle,” Carlos Pena said. “At this stage, you want to make sure you’re ready to hit, and you try to track the pitches and follow them into the glove. But you want to make sure you’re in good position to hit, and then if that’s what you want, go ahead and take a swing.”

The chilly temperatures at camp Sunday were a good primer for those April road games in Seattle, manager Bo Porter said. The skipper said the first day of live batting practice was more for the pitchers than anything else.

“It’s was good for the pitchers to get out of the bullpen and get a hitter in the batter’s box and get closer and closer to starting games here,” Porter said. “If you’re seeing the ball live and seeing ball come out of the pitcher hand – the weather was why some guys decided to track – but at the same time I think it was overall good.”

Here is the day in pictures:

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

A long line of fans waits for a Roger Clemens autograph.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talks.

Jason Castro and Roger Clemens talk.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Roger Clemens signs autographs.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Marwin Gonzalez gets ready to hit.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Carlos Pena and Roger Clemens hug.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Doug Brocail and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Jeff Luhnow and Roger Clemens.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Brad Peacock warms up in bullpen.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Bud Norris plays catch.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

Roger Clemens meets with the media Sunday.

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