Astros Spring Training: Red Sox Thump Astros In Final Exhibition Game

Covering all the Astros news from Kissimmee to Opening Day

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Astros Cut Five From Big League Camp

The Houston Astros optioned left-handed reliever Wesley Wright, shortstop Tommy Manzella and outfielder Brian Bogusevic to Triple-A Oklahoma City and reassigned catchers Brian Esposito and Robinson Cancel to minor league camp on Thursday.

With the move, non-roster invitee J.B. Shuck, a speedy outfielder who reached Triple-A last season, is the only left-handed outfielder left in big league camp. He will likely compete with right-hander Jason Bourgeois for the fifth outfielder spot.

On the infield, Matt Downs, Anderson Hernandez and Angel Sanchez are still competing for two positions. Of those three, only Angel Sanchez is without options. After Manzella's somewhat surprising demotion, it appears Sanchez may have one of the two backup infield spots locked up, leaving the final one down to right-handed Downs and left-handed Hernandez.

Wright's demotion was not surprising, but it does leave the Astros with just three left-handers in camp. Fernando Abad, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Gustavo Chacin are competing for bullpen jobs currently, but there is a small chance the Astros will trade Rowland-Smith to a starting-pitching hungry team before next week. Manager Brad Mills has shown a penchant for keeping multiple left-handers in the bullpen, so there is a chance two of those three make the 25-man roster.

Esposito and Cancel were expected to go back to the minors, with Alyson Footer suggesting that Esposito was sent down now to start working with the young pitchers. That leaves J.R. Towles, Humberto Quintero and Carlos Corporan as the only catchers left in camp, with two spots to be won.

In all, the Astros roster is down to 38, with Jason Castro, Jeff Keppinger and Alberto Arias likely headed to the disabled list. That leaves 10 players who still need to be cut or reassigned by next week.

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Astros Add Robinson Cancel To Catching Ranks

The Houston Astros announced they had signed former Mets catcher Robinson Cancel to a minor league deal. The announcement comes a week after starting catcher Jason Castro tore his ACL and meniscus running to first base in a game against the Detroit Tigers.

Cancel has appeared in 43 major league games across three seasons with the Brewers and Mets. The Puerto Rico native will turn 35 in May and is a career .213/.260/.287 hitter in the majors. In 4,170 minor league plate appearances, Cancel hit .263/.327/.376.

This move isn’t to add a major league catcher, but instead reinforces the position at Triple-A Oklahoma City in case of injuries. In fact, if anything, this suggests the Astros will rely on a player once thought to the ticketed for the minor leagues instead of acquiring someone from outside the organization.

What that means for either J.R. Towles, Carlos Corporan or Brian Esposito is anyone’s guess.

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