With a week of Spring Training in the books let’s take a look at what’s happened so far. First the good news: All of the players have arrived in Kissimmee, a large number of them reporting early. And the bad news: We’ve already seen a couple of injuries. Catcher Max Stassi has been slowed by a strained oblique and is slowly working his way back. Reliever Hector Ambriz is dealing with an ankle sprain and may be out for a few more days.
The surprise story thus far has to be the weather. While we had a beautiful week in Houston, the conditions in Kissimmee have been less than ideal. Rain limited activities late in the week and unseasonably cool temperatures were a factor on Sunday.
In what was billed as the first day of “live” batting practice, Astros hitters did more looking at pitches than swinging at them. With temperatures hovering in the high 30’s to low 40’s guys were a bit hesitant to take a chance on getting themselves jammed.
Pitchers were able to throw with a hitter in the box, and hitters were basically taking the opportunity to see and time pitches.
The biggest story of week one has to be the presence established by Bo Porter. The new manager has provided us with a steady stream of buzz words, catch phrases, and sound bytes like:
It’s not about Bo.
But Porter isn’t just providing lip service and going through the motions. He truly believes in what he is selling. Porter’s inspirational posters that adorned the facility on day one have been followed up with the addition of a “boom box” to the clubhouse. The skipper has introduced his players to a number of tunes that he finds to be inspirational. All of these new tools are geared towards getting the players into a positive mindset. The apathetic attitude that existed prior to Porter’s arrival will no longer be tolerated. Players will be expected to buy in or get out.
Porter has quickly established the fact that this is his team and things will be done his way. For instance; Roger Clemens arrived in camp on Sunday and Porter made Rocket follow him around all day. Bo wanted to make sure Roger got up to speed on his way of doing things before turning him loose with the pitchers.
Porter’s methods seem to be well-conceived and thorough. It will be fun to see how he deals with the impending adversity that is bound to arise this season. I don’t doubt that he is already prepared for it.
The team is slated to spend the next three days taking more live batting practice and the first intrasquad game is scheduled to take place Thursday. Lucas Harrell has been announced as the starting pitcher for Saturday’s opener against the Phillies and Bud Norris will start Sunday’s home opener.