Farewell Grapefruits, Hello Lone Star: The Astros Return to Texas

March 24, 2012; Bradenton, FL, USA; Houston Astros left fielder J.D. Martinez (14) on deck to bat in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

As the Houston Astros leave Florida and Spring Training behind they prepare for 3 more games before Opening Day. Roster decisions are still in progress and there's still some trimming to be done.

As I type this there's a charter flight in Florida loading up with Houston Astros and minor leaguers (the AA Hooks are catching a ride home) and heading back to the Lone Star State. The end of Spring Training is bittersweet. There's a delight and playfulness to camp that fades away as the looming 2012 season and the weight of final roster cuts gets real.

Tonight the Astros will take on their own AA farm team in Corpus Christi's Whataburger field. The traditional playing of a minor league team will ease them back into baseball in Texas just before 2 exhibition games at Minute Maid Park against the Chicago Whitesox.

During those three games leading up to Friday's Home Opener against the Colorado Rockies, the front office will have a bit of trimming to do. The roster is still weighted with guys who won't be on the field when the season begins. I will be waiting with the rest of you to see who makes the final cut and who gets the remaining spots in the starting rotation.

I'm not guessing anymore. Apparently, I'm not good at reading GM Jeff Luhnow's mind as I've been wrong as much as I've been right so far as to who they'd cut and who they'd keep. We know this for sure: Wandy Rodriguez will be on the mound, Jose Altuve, JD Martinez, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Castro, and Marwin Gonzalez have all be confirmed as starters for Opening Day. The rest of the lineup is yet to be announced.

I know this. Friday, there will be a roster of 25 men in Astros uniforms ready to take on the 2012 season. It will be good to have them back in Texas. Root Root Root for the Astros.

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