Fine, today is only Thursday and the first Spring Training game is not until Saturday. But that is only 2 short days away. It will be nice to have some on field action to watch, soak up, analyze, and dissect. That anticipation only grew this morning as new radio announcer Robert Ford posted the lineup the Astros will be using for Saturday’s tilt with the Phillies.
Lucas Harrell (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
We knew that Lucas Harrell would be starting the game and pitching 2 innings in the Astros spring opener. Additionally we will be getting a look not only at top prospect Jarred Cosart, but also Josh Zeid who was also acquired from Philadelphia in the same deal. Sam Demel is an interesting option for Houston out of the bullpen for this season, and we are scheduled to see him on Saturday as well. At this point all signs are pointing to Cosart making his major league debut in 2013 so it will be interesting to see how he performs against his former team. Another pitcher that I am intrigued to see is Chia-Jen Lo. It has been a rough few seasons for Lo and now it appears that he is fully healthy and ready to start making some progress.
Bo Porter’s first starting lineup gives some clues to his line of thinking for 2013. Tyler Greene is leading off and playing SS which leads me to conclude that he has the early edge for the job. I would say that Greene is a favorite of Jeff Luhnow from his St. Louis days, but Greene’s mix of power and speed would be the better option for the Astros lineup. That does not mean Marwin Gonzalez is not getting a fair shake as he gets the start at 2B with Jose Altuve not making the bus trip. Jason Maxwell is batting 3rd and playing CF which seems to be set in stone, followed by our first look at Chris Carter playing 1B. Martinez (the Astros lineup card posted by Ford does not list whether it is JD or Fernando but both are on the trip and I am assuming it is JD getting the start) has his first opportunity to make up for his struggles in the second half of last season. With Carlos Pena also not making the trip, Nate Freiman will be the DH on Saturday, followed by Matt Dominguez at 3B, Carlos Corporan behind the plate, and non-roster invitee Trevor Crowe in RF.
This is a decent look at where the Astros stand for this season. Obviously if this were the regular season Altuve, Pena, and Jason Castro would be in the lineup and Trevor Crowe would not be. Understandably this is Spring Training so we must try not to read too much into the results, but it will be nice to see Carter and Freiman facing opposing pitchers and having a real game to talk about.