March 22, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (51) during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
While we wait for a night game, let's run through some Astros news...
1) Wandy is the Opening Day starter - In a not-particularly-surprising development, Wandy Rodriguez will draw the Opening Day start. It's the first in his career and it marks the third straight different Opening Day starter for the Astros (after Roy Oswalt in 2010 and Brett Myers in 2011).
That's the first time the Astros have had three different OD starters since the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons, when Shane Reynolds, Scott Elarton and Wade Miller made the starts. It's also pretty cool that Wandy is just the fourth left-hander to start an Opening Day for Houston and the first since Dave Roberts in 1973 and 1974. The other two were Mike Cuellar (1967) and Bobby Shantz (1962).
Wandy deserves it after his long and storied Houston career, but the reason this feels inevitable is that he's the veteran statesman left in the rotation. Sure, Bud Norris was maybe better than Wandy in 2011, but the lefty has him on experience and managers like to reward veterans.
What do you think? Happy for Wandy for finally getting the nod? Think he'll be around to make another?
2) Tailgating comes to MMP - Though this whole story has been based on the Houston Dynamo wanting tailgating by their new stadium down the street from Minute Maid Park,it's pretty cool that you can now tailgate at Astros games.
It's also pretty cool that the Houston management is trying things out, like these two events the Astros will host next year. I'm not sure baseball lends itself to the same kind of tailgating that football brings, but I understand how people could be worried about it getting out of control.
I wonder if this will affect how people attend games. Will people go just for the tailgates, like in Texans games? Or will they stay for a few innings outside grilling or whatever and then head inside? Will the Houston summer heat limit the viability of tailgating for much of the season?
It'll be a fascinating experiement and I'm going to be eagerly watching how it works.
3) Jed Lowrie gets hurt - Well, poop. Just when things were going well, the starting shortstop suffers another injury just before Opening Day. I'm not sure what's more disappointing, the fact that Lowrie's injury bug bit again or that Houston may have to start the season with Angel Sanchez on the roster again.
There's still no official word on how long Lowrie will be out or how serious his injury is. But, he's in a brace as of this afternoon and seems discouraged by things.
That also makes it bad timing is that Lowrie was really rounding into form. Zachary Levine had nothing but good things to say about him on Sunday when we were recording his podcast, including being very complimentary of his defense. I don't think Lowrie will be as good as Clint Barmes, but if he can turn in a solid season defensively, plus add a little power and on-base percentage? That's a win for Houston
But, to do that, Lowrie needs to stay healthy. Let's hope this just a little thing and the new shortstop can get back to his position soon.