Like moving into a house that's not finished, the Astros took up residence for the first time Wednesday in the new West Palm Beach, FL training camp they will share with the Washington Nationals. Pitchers, catchers and several non-pitchers took the field for the first time at the still incomplete training center that will feature spacious clubhouses and a massive weight room.
Turn when you get to the big star
(c) Associated Press
Manager A.J. Hinch stressed that the Astros are getting elite facilities to match the elitist attitude they hope to inspire in themselves. No longer being little brothers to the lordly Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers begins on Day One.
Perhaps the most giddy was starting pitcher Collin McHugh who triumphed this week over the Decision Scientists to the tune of $500,000. That's what separated the two offers with McHugh winning a $3.85 million arbitration judgement after the Astros offered only $3.35 million. Just goes to show, I guess, that arbitration isn't rocket science.
Maybe they should have kept Tal Smith after all.
That settled, the Astros can come together in time for their spring opener which is February 25th, an earlier start than most because of the World Basball Classic.
The last time the WBC blew through, the Astros were a rag tag bunch that needed every possible at bat and inning pitched they could get to sort the bad from the horrible. This time, the Astros are thinking playoffs with a veteran-laden roster that would rather get through March without an injury. Expect to see a lot of minor leaguers and non-roster invitees getting playing time this spring while they try to bubble-wrap their eventual starters.
As it is, Catcher/DH Evan Gattis is nursing a sore right shoulder, erstwhile ace Dallas Keuchel has yet to throw a slider while he rehabs from surgery and several others deal with the aches and pains of stretching out arms and legs.
At least, they are finally home. Even if it is still under construction.
- Bob Hulsey