Astros end Framber Valdez experiment after struggles in spring training

It looks like Framber Valdez won't be calling his own pitches after all.

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros
Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Spring training is a time for adjustments and experimentation, and the Houston Astros are no exception. Hitters like Jeremy Pena are trying out changes to their stances and swings, while pitchers are trying out new pitches, changes to their delivery, and even alterations to their cadence in-between pitches. Not all of these adjustments work out, as Framber Valdez just found out.

One big change that Valdez was very excited about was that he was going to use PitchCom to call some of his own pitches this season. The idea was that he expected times where he would want to have confidence in what he was throwing in certain situations and liked the idea of calling his own pitches in those scenarios (especially without Martin Maldonado guiding him from behind the dish).

However, after a pretty disastrous attempt down at spring training at using the technology to call his own game, both Valdez and the Astros have abandoned the idea for at least this coming season.

Astros' Framber Valdez to let catchers call his games again

Again, the idea of giving Valdez that level of control has a lot of merit in a vacuum, but he clearly was not comfortable when things were put into practice at the beginning of March. While no one is shutting the door for good on Valdez quarterbacking using PitchCom later on, both sides agree that it is better for him in 2024 to just focus on executing pitches and letting Houston's catchers handle the game calling.

Astros manager Joe Espada relayed just that thought process when asked about the situation recently. He noted that Valdez will still have control over what he throws, as he can still shake pitches off, but reiterated that Valdez's lack of comfort with the technology thus far was distracting him from pitching freely on the mound.

To Valdez's credit, he agrees that the time isn't right for the change. While he was excited about the added level of control in his hands, he thinks it is better for him and the team right now to leave it to the catchers to transmit the calls and for him to execute his pitches.

Now, as Valdez gets more comfortable executing and more acclimated to the idea of calling his own pitches, that could change, in the way it has changed with many top pitchers. However, with the Astros already struggling to hold baserunners on first under the best of circumstances and Valdez struggling with PitchCom this spring, it does seem like they made the right call to abandon ship here.

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