Even with the lockout, Opening Day is scheduled for March 31. The likeliness of this still happening decreases with each passing day, but for the Houston Astros, they can welcome two friends to Minute Maid Park, if the schedule remains the same following the lockout.
The Astros are scheduled to open the season with a three-game set against the Hector Neris’ former club, the Philadelphia Phillies.
This is the first time since 2017 that Houston welcomes the National League East for a regular season series, although facing the NL East in the World Series twice since.
The Astros could face two former teammates in their three-game Opening Series at Minute Maid Park.
It was early in the offseason and the transactions came quietly, but two contributors to the 2021 World Series appearance — Garrett Stubbs and Kent Emanuel — are now Phillies.
Stubbs’ tenure with the Astros started in 2019, following his major-league callup. At 26-years-old, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound catcher was joining the best team in Major League Baseball.
Over the next two seasons, Stubbs added versatility to his repertoire, playing second base and left field. These positions made Stubbs look more valuable, but with Korey Lee inching toward the majors, the now 28-year-old was dealt away before the lockout began.
It was an inevitable move with a herd of prospect catchers climbing through the system. Stubbs is now a Phillie and the situation is the best for him.
"“I had been stuck behind (Martín) Maldonado and then a couple backups the last few years over in Houston, so (general manager James Click) found a good situation over there with me in Philly,” Stubbs told Phillies Nation. “So I’m excited. It was a really awesome day for me.”"
Following a trade to the Phillies, the Astros put left-handed pitcher Kent Emanuel on waivers. The fan favorite’s departure was not expected, but at 29-years-old, the Astros will rely on younger lefties for 2022 with Blake Taylor and Jonathan Bermudez.
Emanuel was added to Philadelphia’s 40-man roster following the claim and could now make his return in relief at Minute Maid Park in late-March or early-April.
Both Emanuel, who is recovering from injury, and Stubbs will need to make the 26-man roster. If both players do, then there is a slim chance that Stubbs could pick up the third start of the series or catch late into a contest.
The possibility is marginal. But if both Stubbs and Emanuel make the roster, then we could at least see both trot out of the dugout during the Opening Day ceremony.