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Astros: Pitchers are set for first week of Spring Training

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch during the first inning of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch during the first inning of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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It’s finally here! The Houston Astros’ Spring Training games begin Saturday, and the pitchers have been set for week one.

The Astros‘ Spring Training season opens in two days against the Washington Nationals. It’s the first of 33 games scheduled this Spring before regular season begins March 28 in Tampa Bay. It’s that time of year the veterans hone their skills and the prospects make their case be in the big leagues.

The Astros’ Grapefruit League opener is scheduled for Saturday, 5:35 pm CST at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Brady Rodgers has been named Houston’s starter and will go up against, none other than, Max Scherzer. A. J. Hinch wanted to recognize Rodgers’ efforts to return from Tommy John surgery.

"“When you get into camp, you kind of feel out of sight, out of mind if you’re hurt,” Hinch said. “We wanted to reward his work and his rehab and getting back to camp healthy and feeling good by giving him the first start.”"

Rodgers showed a promising future before the elbow injury and was named the Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017. He’s eager to get on the mound hoping to get in two innings of work. “I’m just excited to put on an Astros uniform again and pitch in front of our team and have the opportunity to show what I got,” said Rodgers

On Sunday the Astros play a pair of split-squad games. Framber Valdez, 25, will get his first chance to possibly vie for a spot in the rotation against the Atlanta Braves in West Palm Beach at 12:05. Over in Port St. Lucie at 12:10 pm, Rogelio Armenteros will get the nod in the other game with the New York Mets.

Monday afternoon the Astros will again play the Mets at 12:05 pm, with a classic match-up between Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard. In Jupiter on Tuesday afternoon Gerrit Cole will face the Miami Marlins.

Wade Miley will start the Wednesday afternoon game versus the Nationals and will be followed by Collin McHugh out of the bullpen. “McHugh wanted me to do it that way so I’d have to answer questions whether he’s really a starter or a reliever,” Hinch joked. Brad Peacock will then open Thursday’s game against the Marlins.

It will be great to see the Astros back out on the field, and fun to watch some of the prospects competing for a place on the big league roster. Hinch implicated that at the beginning of the Grapefruit League season the limit on each pitcher may be two innings.

Next. Astros Analysis: What to glean about Carlos Correa’s performance against breaking pitches. dark

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