Myers finds positives, negatives in start
Righty cruises in first in debut, but has trouble in second
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- After spending the first eight years of his Major League career with the Philadelphia Phillies, right-hander Brett Myers took the mound for the first time in an Astros uniform on Thursday afternoon and asked second-base umpire Laz Diaz how he liked the new colors.
"He said it still looked like the same colors," Myers said. "I said, 'C'mon, this uniform looks pretty good, doesn't it?' I'm trying to have some fun, because it's only Spring Training."
Myers had some fun and some frustration in his first start of Grapefruit League action, allowing three runs (two earned), three walks and one hit in two innings in Houston's 15-5 clubbing of the Washington Nationals at windy Osceola County Stadium.
Myers threw 40 pitches (18 for strikes) and struggled to locate his pitches. He threw primarily fastballs, mixing in a few changeups, and said he had no control of where his sinker was going.
"I was trying to work on mainly [my] fastball today, especially in the second inning," Myers said. "That's a pitch you're going to have to try to get people out with a lot. That's what I was trying to work on today for the most part and just try to command that.
"When it was getting away from me with the sinker, I wanted to keep throwing it and try to make the adjustment. I was able to do it with some, but on others, they were running so much, and I almost hit a guy in the back foot when I threw it down the middle."
Myers breezed through a 12-pitch first inning before he walked his way into trouble in the second. He allowed the Nationals to load the bases with one out on three walks and induced a double-play grounder from Alberto Gonzalez, who reached on a throwing error by second baseman Kazuo Matsui. One run scored on the play, and Wil Nieves followed with a two-run single.
"The ball was moving more than I'm used to, and I was trying to throw them down the middle," Myers said. "I'd try to throw it down the middle and it was running off the plate, and I even told [catcher] J.R. [Towles], 'Try to set up in the middle, so I can try to sink it.' I don't know if it was the conditions or me, but it was one of those things where I lost it a little bit.
"You try to make a pitch with the bases loaded, and you do, but those guys shouldn't have been on base anyway. It's just a work in progress the first time out in a game. Next time should get better."
Astros manager Brad Mills was somewhat encouraged by how Myers limited the damage after he loaded the bases with one out. Had Matsui been able to turn the double play at second base, Myers would have escaped the inning without giving up a run.
"I thought in the first inning, he was outstanding," Mills said. "The second inning, he was really having problems just controlling the movement of his sinker. He made some adjustments and the big error kind of hurt. At the same time, he did a real good job working through it."
Myers' stuff was moving so uncontrollably that a teammate asked him if he had struck out Washington's Pete Orr on a split-fingered fastball in the second inning. It was actually a sinker that got away from him.
"I've never had a sinker that moves that much," Myers said. "If it's going to continue doing that I'll take it, as long I know where to start it to control it. Today was one of those days I was going to the direction I wanted it, but the ball was doing different things as it left my hand."
Neither the Astros nor Myers are worried about results at this point, considering he's not throwing his full arsenal. He'll need to improve his control as the spring season progresses, but what's important to him at this point is that he feels healthy and on schedule.
Myers, who went 4-3 with a 4.18 ERA last year in 18 games (10 starts) with the Phillies before he signed a one-year deal with Houston, is the Astros' No. 3 starter this year.
"It was good to get out there," he said. "You definitely don't want to walk the guys I did today, but to get out there and back into game situations definitely feels pretty good. I'm looking forward to the next one."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.