Greetings Astros fans! Our good old Astros played two split-squad games on this fine Tuesday. Ahh what a good day it was for Astros baseball, because everyday is a good day for Astros Baseball - especially since two games were played simultaneously! Okay, maybe it wasn't a good day for baseball since the Rays game was rained out in the 6th inning, making an Astros loss official, but hey you gotta admit after that long off season an Astros spring training game is better than no game at all.
Tigers at Astros
Southpaw Erik Bedard started the game in Kissimmee, pitching two innings while throwing 10 out of 15 pitches for strikes. Bedard has the most major league experience among the pitchers in camp and will probably win the 5th starter job unless he performs poorly this spring training. He's performed well in the past while pitching for the American League Orioles, Mariners, and Red Sox. He had a not-so-good year with the Pirates last year, but that may turn out to be an anomaly. He still put up high strikeout numbers (8.5 K/9) and had relatively consistent peripheral stats from 2011 to 2012. He's a sharp candidate to rebound. Maybe we can blame his 2012 on some sort of injury or something.
I feel like Bedard along with Alex White are going to be the two main candidates for the 5th spot in the Astros rotation unless a trade occurs or someone gets injured. The other starters who pitched today, John Ely and Rudy Owens are not likely to make the Astros rotation out of spring training even though they are both on the 40-man roster. But they are probably going to be the first candidates to be called up.
The relief pitchers who pitched today were Jose Veras, Kevin Chapman, and Josh Fields. All pitched scoreless innings while Fields also got an out in the 8th inning as well. Fields is particularly exciting as a bullpen piece. Unlike Rhiner Cruz, Fields has better control and has a better secondary offering which in addition to his 95-mph fastball make him a favorable addition to the Astros bullpen. Chapman is also another hard thrower - a lefty - and doesn't really fit into the current bullpen plans, but he sure was a nice get in the Bourgeois and Q trade last spring training.
Among the batters who had good games, Brett Wallace and Jason Castro top off the hit parade with each hitting a home run. Wallace also started the game at 3rd base for the first time this spring. It also wasn't surprising he made his first throwing error at well. Call me not sold on the Wallace at 3rd base experiment. He's always looked bad defensively at 3rd.
Robbie Grossman and Rick Ankiel also had good games. While it's too early to decide anything, if anyone saw Grossman playing in the televised game, you would know what kind of exciting player he is. Grossman might have one of those J.B. Shuck like spring trainings in which he is one of the last players who get cut, but he'll probably be one of the first players who get called up in case of an injury. And he'll probably become one of those fan-favorites too.
Astros at Rays
Jordan Lyles pitched two innings. He didn't pitch particulaly well, but that shouldn't be a concern. As we learned last spring training Lyles was working on a curveball he learned from Wandy Rodriguez. If anything, his terrible performance today is encouraging because it shows he is probably working on something to improve himself as a pitcher (and he does have a few things to work on). It's either this reasonable assumption, or he actually tried to pitch well and failed doing so. But we still shouldn't be concerned because it's a small sample size.
Xavier Cedeño and Edgar Gonzalez followed. Cedeño will probably be the 2nd lefty in the Astros bullpen this year after showcasing a particularly strong season on his part last year. This gives him an edge over Sergio Escalona who is not on the 40-man roster. Escalona had a terrific 2011 season, but underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL last spring training.
On offense there wasn't much of anything really exciting. Dominguez had a home run, double and a walk. There was more excitement on the base paths and on defense. Brandon Barnes stole 2nd and 3rd base off of David Price in the third inning. Barnes also threw out a runner at the plate. Jimmy Paredes, the right fielder, threw a runner out at 3rd.
The Astros will be playing behind starter Alex White against the Blue Jays tomorrow at 12:05 p.m. Central Time. The game will not be televised, but as always you can tune in your radio to KBME 790.
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