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Astros Spring Training Notebook

Another day, another set of notes on how the team is doing...

First, though, I'd like to set up a poll here to answer a question. How do you browse TCB? Do many of you use the mobile site? The reason I ask is there's been some discussion about both the phrase "after the jump" and about including jumps into all posts to make things read better on mobile devices. So, I'm attaching this poll. Vote if you like and you can make a difference. Become our copy editors for a day.

Hitters take BP: In his blatant ripoff of my notebook idea. Brian McTaggart writes that pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice starting Thursday. That means that the pitchers will again be ahead of the hitters. Add that to our sad spring training cliche list.

Drilling it up: One of the more entertaining stories I've read about Brad Mills and his spring workouts is the pitcher drills he ran a couple days ago. Apparently, he and first base coach Bobby Meachem were hitting balls directly at the pitchers, helping them react quickly in game situations. At one point, Meachem and Mills were hitting balls in rhythm back-to-back-to-back. Um, does anyone else think this sounds incredibly dangerous? And awesome at the same time? No wonder Fulchino "sprained" his ankle. He just wanted to get out of the Baseball Gauntlet of Death.

PPR (Position Players Report): There has officially been a Big Puma sighting in Kissimmee. He and many other Astros position players officially reported on Wednesday. Carlos Lee has also reported, but had to take a 4 a.m. flight out of Panama to get there, according to Bernardo Fallas on Twitter. Really, Carlos? There were no earlier flights? Or ones maybe the night before? I have a sneaking suspicion someone just wanted a couple more bowls of sanchoco, a spicy chicken and vegetable stew that is the national dish of Panama. What are the odds that he gets a 'best shape of his life' story? 10 to 1? Higher?

He Works Hard For The Money: Fallas also has a story up on about how Berkman said he's 'playing for his contract' in 2010. Drayton McLane also is quoted as saying Lance was more upbeat and driven this offseason, which led to DQ and I taking slightly different opinions on why this may be. DQ said he's obviously playing for a contract, which means he's definitely going to work harder. While I agree with that, I think the fact that the Astros have that team option for 2011 is a good thing. It will get Berkman working this season to pick up the option, then have a year to also work for a new contract. Odds are, the team signs him long-term before then, but still, it's a better situation than some.

Whether Berkman can pick up his numbers is debatable. I'm of the opinion that he'll do just fine, given adequate protection in the lineup. His skillset (walks, gap power) will age well and I could see him being a productive player for three or four more years, at least.

Abad Rotation-Bound?: This story by new writer Alden Gonzalez suggest that Fernando Abad might have a shot at the big-league rotation. That's straddles the line between surprising and not-so-much, as the Astros decision to add him to the 40-man roster this winter raised this very possibility. His transition to starting at Corpus Christi also didn't hurt matters. I really don't expect this to happen, however, because there aren't many spots up for grabs.

Abad also doesn't throw very hard. At all. John Sickels listed him as a sleeper prospect but basically said he's got no velocity and exceptional control. Sounds a little like Wandy when he first made the team. If I remember correctly, he even flirted with the major league roster at first but waited a year in the minors before cracking the rotation. That's probably the most likely scenario for Abad.

Not much else going on today. Once spring training kicks into gear, should be more to blog about. Until tomorrow...