Astros catcher Jason Castro told Brian McTaggart he is ahead of schedule on his recovery from foot surgery. Castro had surgery to remove the sesamoid bone from his left foot eight weeks ago. That means Castro is still about a month away from being ready for game action if his recovery continues to progress without any setbacks.
Astros pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in a little less than three weeks. Castro should still be rehabbing the injury at that time. The first scheduled Spring Training game will take place a month from today and Castro could be ready to play if all goes well. But I would expect the Astros to ease Castro back slowly, given his history with injuries over the last twelve months.
New catcher Chris Snyder is also coming off an injury. Snyder missed most of last season after lower back surgery but has been given a clean bill of health. If Snyder is indeed healthy I would expect him to handle most of the catching duties this season. Super-sub Humberto Quintero should once again be ready to fill in when needed.
I would expect Castro to start the season at AAA. The addition of the veteran Snyder gives the Astros more time to allow Castro to recover. Furthermore, Castro should get the chance to further develop his game in the minors after being rushed to the big leagues ahead of schedule. Castro is still considered the catcher of the future, but Snyder is a proven player who can pay immediate dividends for the offense and the pitching staff.
Like many of the young Astros players, Castro still has minor league options. Some of these players may be spending more time in the minors than we originally anticipated. The Astros have added a few more veteran players to the equation in recent weeks, but Jeff Luhnow is still focused on building for the future. Some players need more time to develop than others. The new veterans can provide that time by acting as placeholders until the up-and-coming youngsters are ready to succeed.
So. if Livan Hernandez or Zach Duke breaks camp as the fifth starter while Jordan Lyles works in AAA, remember it’s all part of the master plan. The Astros are making those type of decisions scientifically now.