At Saturday’s FanFest I got a chance to speak with Astros manager Bo Porter for a few minutes. Porter was quick to mention how traveling around with the Astros CAREavan for the past week had made him realize something.
Houston is a baseball town.
Bo knows baseball.
Porter said the fans, even though the franchise has been a cellar-dweller for the last two years, still have a passion and energy for the team. He said the players have noticed it too. Getting out there and meeting these fans, who support the team through thick and thin, has given Porter and the players a boost.
Bo knows football.
It’s Super Bowl week and the Astros new manager knows a thing or two about that sport as well. Much like another famous Bo, Porter was a 2-sport star in college. Playing for legendary coach Hayden Frye, Porter was an All-Big 10 defensive back and the defensive MVP of his Iowa Hawkeyes team as a senior.
Porter borrows some of his lessons learned on the gridiron and transfers them to the baseball diamond. Porter said, as a manager he will stress preparation. He went on to say the Astros players will be prepared differently than they ever have been before. Just talking to him, I got the feeling that Porter will be somewhat of a disciplinarian as well. He seems like a straight to the point, no-nonsense kind of guy. It will be a refreshing change from the laid-back approach of former manager Brad Mills.
Porter spent the last two seasons as the third base coach for the Washington Nationals. Not too long ago, the Nats were in a situation similar to today’s situation for the Astros. Washington turned a pair of #1 draft picks into a quick division title last year. Porter knows the Astros turnaround will take longer. Players like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper simply don’t come around that often.
We talked about how the experience with his former team could help to prepare Porter for what’s in store with the Astros. Porter said he gained valuable experience going through the rebuild in Washington and he feels fortunate to have been there. The fact that the Astros circumstances are similar helped make the job more attractive to Porter. The fact that he has called Houston home for the past 16 years was also a big positive.
Porter is a Houston guy and at only 40 years of age he’s made a commitment to be here for the long haul. Porter said he is impressed with the way Jeff Luhnow and company have gone about implementing a long term plan and he is happy with the depth within the organization.
My final hard-hitting question for Porter had to do with innings limits. Everyone knows what happened with Strasburg last season. I asked if there had been any discussion about limiting the innings of any of the Astros young pitchers this season. This question was met with a resounding “NO”.
Porter explained how Strasburg was returning from an injury and the Astros pitchers didn’t fall into that category. I asked if perhaps a player like Lucas Harrell might be kept on an innings limit in order to avoid such an injury. Porter again went back to his trump card; preparation, explaining how the Astros young pitchers will be prepared in a manner that will have them ready to pitch through the entire season.