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With the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins kicking off the 2012 MLB season tonight, Spring Training 2012 has finally been closed. The Houston Astros, fittingly, went through a period of change this spring, and are now ready to open up the 2012 season against the Colorado Rockies.
Perhaps the biggest, and most shocking, change to the 2012 Astros is with the pitching staff. Last year's Opening Day starter, Brett Myers, is now serving as Houston's closer. Myers does have experience as a closer, as he served as Philadelphia's closer in 2007 and pitched out of the bullpen in 2009 as well, before making 66 starts for the Astros the last two seasons.
Once a highly regarded top prospect, Brett Wallace is back in the minor leagues. The Astros decided to option Wallace to AAA, presumably to get consistent at bats and further his development.
Perhaps the most exciting player in Houston's camp this year was Jordan Schafer, who hit .379/.455/.483, and earned the starting gig in center field as a result.
For more on the Astros, be sure to head over to the Crawfish Boxes.
The Houston Astros have had to do a ton of roster shuffling prior to the start of the season, but one player who looked to have their role defined is middle infielder Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a Rule 5 pick by Houston, will be on the Astros’ opening day roster, thus making his major league debut later this week. Per MLB guidelines, Gonzalez must stay on with the club all season or else will be moved back to waivers and offered back to the Chicago Cubs at a discounted rate.
Astros' general manager Jeff Luhnow speaks on what Gonzalez brings to the club:
"Marwin has done a great job defensively; he’s shown that he’s capable of taking major league at-bats. I think we saw a couple of good plays in the game today. He’s ready. He’s a valuable asset for us and we like to have a guy like that in the organization. To do that, we have to keep him on the 25."
Opening Day 2012 is right around the corner, and for Houston Astros fans, it's a bittersweet time. It's the start of a new regime in Houston, with a new owner and general manager, but it's also the last season that the Astros will be in the National League.
Wandy Rodriguez will start on Opening Day for Houston, which is on Friday, April 6, as the Astros host the Colorado Rockies. Jeremy Guthrie will start for the Rockies against Rodriguez. Astros fans will get a treat on Saturday, April 7, as the timeless Jamie Moyer will start for the Rockies against Houston.
Houston's homestand will continue with a series against the Atlanta Braves, before the Astros head on the road for the first time this season. Houston's first road series in 2012 will come against the Miami Marlins, so Astros fans will get a firsthand look at that home run....sculpture in Miami.
For more on the Astros, be sure to check out the Crawfish Boxes.
Ugly is the only way to describe Brandon Lyon in 2011. Lyon appeared in 15 games for the Houston Astros, pitching 13.1 innings, while giving up a staggering 17 runs on 27 hits, while walking five and striking out only six.
Very few major league players are that bad when healthy. Lyon certainly wasn't healthy, and he had to undergo surgery to place his biceps tendon back in its proper place.
Lyon, though, is ten months removed from the surgery and is ready to roll for the Astros as a member of their 2012 bullpen. Per the Houston Chronicle:
"Right now he's a regular member of the bullpen," general manager Jeff Luhnow said, in contrast to the notion that the Astros still might consider him a patient. "His velocity's up to 91, he's a veteran, he throws strikes. He's a key piece to our bullpen right now."
Lyon's contract with the Astros expires after this year. While he's likely never going to be a closer again, he should prove to be a capable member of Houston's bullpen -- and perhaps another team's bullpen come August this year, if he's pitching well enough to trade.
For more on the Astros, be sure to head over to the Crawfish Boxes and join the discussion.
There was no shortage in offense Saturday afternoon between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. Wind and rain played a factor in the Astros 11-9 loss. The game actually ended with one out in the top of the ninth due to the rain that finally came down.
Starting pitcher Jordan Lyles is looking to nail down one of the two open starting rotation spots, but his showing on Saturday did not go very well as he gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
In his last start before the regular season, Bud Norris allowed four hits and one run in six innings and Chris Johnson had a pair of RBIs. Norris only pitched three innings in his previous start because of tightness in his arm, but zipped through six innings on Friday, allowing only one run on a Martin Prado double.
Jordan Lyles will start against the New York Yankees on Saturday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Lyles is competing for one of the final two spots in the rotation with Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell after Livan Hernandez was released. Lyles has allowed 11 earned runs in 15 /23 innings in four starts through Spring Training.
Jed Lowrie injured his thumb against the Marlins and while the MRI showed no damage he is listed as day-to-day and his status for opening day is unclear at this point.
Houston Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer injured his left hand while making a diving catch on March 18 in Spring Training. The injury was initially diagnosed as a sprain and Schafer was supposed to miss about a week of Spring Training time as a result. He has still not returned to the lineup.
On Tuesday, Brian McTaggert of MLB.com reported that Schafer is experiencing issues with nerves in his hand and has scheduled a flight to Atlanta to consult with a hand specialist. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is optimistic that Schafer can still start the season.
"My sense is that by the weekend he'll be back hitting and hopefully be in games by the end of the weekend," Luhnow said. "We have to be cautious and if he feels any discomfort at all we're going to take it easy on him. The goal is to have him ready to go on Opening Day."
Schafer has a history of left hand injuries, so hopefully this is just an extra precaution and not indicative of a more serious issue.
Jimmy Paredes, the Astros' default third basemen for much of the end of last season, was cut from the team on Friday, along with five other players. Paredes, outfielder Fernando Martinez and pitcher Aneury Rodriguez are on their way to Triple-A Oklahoma City, while pitchers Xavier Cedeno and Jose Valdez and outfielder Brad Snyder were reassinged to Minor League camp. That brings the total of Astros players in Spring Training to 41.
The move to assign Paredes likely means that Chris Johnson will start at third base on Opening Day for the Astros. He's currently hitting .367 with two homers and five RBIs. Johnson won the third base job last year, but was sent to Triple A in August. He finished 2011 with a .251 average, hitting seven home runs and 42 RBIs in 107 games.
According to FOX Sports Kansas City's Joel Goldberg, the Houston Astros have traded catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois to the Kansas City Royals for minor-league lefty pitcher Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later.
Joel GoldbergRoyals acquire C Humberto Quintero & OF Jason Bourgeois from Astros for minor league LHP Kevin Chapman & player to be named 31 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone · Reply · Retweet · Favorite · powered by @socialditto
The Royals were in need of another option at catcher after Salvador Perez went down with a knee injury. Chapman, their new minor league prospect, has played for the Royals' A and AA team. He has played in 54 games overall and had an ERA of 5.06, striking out 110, allowing 52 runs and racking up 11 saves with a 2-5 record.
The Houston Astros are in the thick of Spring Training and getting ready for a new season under a new owner. While hopes are not particularly high for the 2012 season, the Astros have exhibited some flashes of promise during Grapefruit League play. One of their expected starters suffered a bit of a setback over the weekend, however.
According to Brian McTaggart and David Villavicencio of MLB.com, center fielder Jordan Schafer sprained his hand while making a catch on Sunday and is expected to miss about a week of playing time.
"It's really sore today," Schafer said. "Like they told me, with a sprain, the next day is probably going to be the worst. I'm just happy it's not broken.
"I'm OK with missing a couple of days, but I just didn't want the break and to miss a couple of months. I'm happy it's only a sprain."
The Houston Astros suffered their third straight loss this spring as they fell to the New York Yankees 6-3. Starting pitcher Bud Norris had a tough start by by giving up five runs in the first two innings including giving up a three-run home run to Robinson Cano in the second inning. Norris pitched only three innings and in addition to give up five runs, he gave up five hits, walked four and struck out two.
The Astros trailed 6-1 heading into the eight inning and had a minor comeback as they scored two runs, but is all the scoring for the rest of the game.
One bright spot for the Astros was closer Brett Myers who pitched two scoreless innings in his second straight scoreless outing after allowing at least one run in each of first four appearances.
Hanson will be making his second Grapefruit league start, though his first one was washed away due to rain. Hanson has been working on a new delivery to ease the wear and tear on his shoulder, so Houston hitters might be seeing a slightly different Hanson than they're used to from the past.
Astros fans will be interested to watch Wandy Rodriguez, who gets the nod against the Braves on Friday. It'll be Rodriguez' first action since pitching three scoreless innings on March 6 against the Mets, when he surrendered just one hit while striking out one.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 between the Braves and Astros.
Bud Norris will start for Saturday for the Astros, as they take on Hiroki Kuroda and the New York Yankees at 12:05 p.m. CT. Houston will complete the New York tour on Sunday, as they play host to the New York Mets -- also at 12:05.
For more on the Astros, be sure to head over to The Crawfish Boxes and join the discussion.
The Houston Astros came up on the short end of the score for the third straight game, and second day in a row to Toronto, losing to the Blue Jays by a 5-2 count in a Grapefruit League spring-training contest Saturday in Dunedin, Fla.
The Blue Jays roughed up Astros pitchers for 10 hits and did all of their damage between the third and the seventh innings. Outfielders Jose Bautista and Travis Snider provided the power for Toronto. Bautista hit two home runs in the game, a two run shot in the third to start the Blue Jays' scoring and a solo home run in the fifth, his first two long balls of the spring. Snider's home run came in the fourth with nobody on base.
Houston had eight hits of its own, three of them two-base hits, but the Astros weren't able put enough production together to manufacture more than two runs.
Aaron Laffey was the winning pitcher for Toronto, going four innings and giving up three hits and no runs, and striking out three in four sharp innings of work. Zach Duke took the loss, throwing three innings for Houston and yielding three runs and six hits in three innings.
Houston is now 4-4 in spring training games. Toronto increased its exhibition season record to 6-2.
The Houston Astros scored four runs in the fourth inning and came back with four more in the sixth on the way to a10-3 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday in preseason major-league baseball.
Astros right-handed hurler Bud Norris threw three hitless innings in his first start of the spring. Hitting stars for Houston were Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez. Schafer got things started in the very first inning with a single and scored the Astros first run. He went three for four the rest of the game, while Martinez contributed two hits of his own and drive in three runs.
Norris led Houston pitchers last season with 176 strikeouts in 186 innings. He did not record a strikeout in Wednesday’s short outing, however.
The Houston Astros don’t exactly have a dependable pitching staff laden with proven commodities, so it’s been a surprising development this offseason when the Astros announced that Brett Myers would move to the closer role. With Brandon Lyon out, a move has to be made somewhere, but few predicted this would be the answer. However new general manager Jeff Luhnow says that both sides are excited about the move yet it’s also something that could change.
“I think for our team, right now, where we are and what we need, Myers in the bullpen is going to help us,” he told MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes. “We’ve got some options in the rotation and we really didn’t have good options for that [closer] role. He’s excited about it, and I’m excited to see how it works out. If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back to the other way.”
Myers threw nearly 450 innings the last two seasons in the Astros rotation and he hasn’t played the closer role since 2006 with the Philadelphia Phillies when he had 21 saves and a 4.33 ERA. However, Luhnow is out to make the team to be the best it can and his hire was likely to bring the unconventional given his analytical background. If it’s a fluid situation, perhaps the best response is a simple “why not?”
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