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Astros Crawfish Boil: February 19, 2018

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A TCB Institution Returns: Houston Astros news and notes from around the league for Monday, February 19, 2018.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
A focused, streamlined Francis Martes is ignoring distractions and working hard toward his goal of a spot in the Major League rotation.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As the title defense season prepares to get underway for your Houston Astros, we here at the Crawfish Boxes have decided to renew an informational institution in these parts: the daily Crawfish Boil.

Astros News

Svelte Martes impressing with velocity, focus

The first of two recent pieces that take a look at Francis Martes’ changes over the offseason.

Astros righty Francis Martes arrives to spring training with improved pitching

Another (brief) look at the improvements Francis Martes has made.

Spring Training 2018: 5 Things to Know about Houston Astros

A Palm Beach Post look at the Houston Astros for Spring Training.

New year, new outlook for Houston’s Giles

Ken Giles discusses his much-reported struggles in the postseason, his offseason workout to build strength and stamina, and his mindset for the 2018 season.

Astros weighing left-handed relief options

A look at several options - young players and veterans alike - to potentially fill a left-handed bullpen role.

Out of options, Stassi aiming for roster spot

A profile piece on Astros catcher Max Stassi, who must make the team out of spring training or risk being exposed to the waiver wire.

AJ Hinch: Cole only needs ‘tweaks,’ not overhaul

AJ Hinch talks about the newest Horseman to join the Astros

When Verlander speaks, Astros hurlers listen

Astros vet assists McCullers, talks pitching with Keuchel, Cole

Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. gaining insight from Justin Verlander

A second look at the contributions of likely-future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander is offering to his Astros teammates in his first Spring Training with the team.

Brady Rodgers on throwing restrictions during Astros spring training

Brady Rodgers is nearing a return

Nats, Astros strike naming rights deal for spring ballpark

The Nationals and Astros have a new naming pact in place for their joint Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve gets his own Funko Pop! figure

The American League MV...Pop?

Astros start workouts with an unfamiliar ring -- as champions

A look from ESPN at your World Champions.

Full Year of Justin Verlander Can Drive Houston Astros to World Series Repeat

A Bleacher Report look at Justin Verlander’s effect on the Astros’ chances to repeat in 2018.

Astros owner Jim Crane knows he has a team that’s built to last

Astros owner Jim Crane knows his team has the pieces to compete for another title - and not just this season

Watson celebrated with youth outreach center

Longtime baseball figure honored with educational center at Astros’ Youth Academy

Brad Peacock welcomes unlimited role with Astros

Brad Peacock is embracing his new role with the team.

Yankees are team to watch but Astros are still the ones to beat in 2018

Mike Lupica examines the Astros as the team to beat through New York Yankees-centric lenses.

Around The League

Will Tim Tebow play baseball in the majors? Mets GM thinks so.

Yeah, this is still a thing for some reason.

Gary Sanchez literally rips cover off a baseball

Kraken smash.

Twins 3B Miguel Sano arrives in spring training with MLB assault investigation unresolved

A story that isn’t getting as much press as it might deserve.

MLB: Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres reach agreement on eight-year deal

Title says it all - we’ve all heard about it by now, but here’s the latest from the LA Times.

What Bob Melvin expects with looming MLB pace of play changes

The pace of play rules are coming, whether we like it or not.

Spring ball looks for jolt from Japanese star

Shohei Ohtani is creating a buzz everywhere he goes this spring.