Myers hurt but plans to make next start
Righty departs outing vs. former team with groin strain
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The day began with Brett Myers hamming it up behind the batting cage with his former teammates and for him ended when he gingerly walked off the mound to a nice round of applause from the pro-Phillies crowd at Bright House Field.
Myers clearly enjoyed himself Thursday in his first appearance against his former team, making playful gestures to Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick and jawing with outfielder Jayson Werth and manager Charlie Manuel. He pitched pretty well, too, before being forced from the game with a mild left-groin strain.
Myers, signed by the Astros in January to be their No. 3 starter, said he doesn't expect to miss his next start -- scheduled to take place Tuesday in Kissimmee against the Phillies -- but he won't know more until he finds out how his groin responds on Friday.
"It's not painful to walk," Myers said. "I think it's just a mild strain and will go away, hopefully. We'll see what happens."
The right-hander pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed seven hits, three runs, one walk and struck out one batter in his first game against Philadelphia, the team that drafted him in 1999. He won 73 games for the Phillies over the previous eight seasons, helping them win the World Series in 2008.
"It's kind of tough, you see the guys and face them and then again it's only Spring Training," he said. "During the season it would be a lot different. I would never go out there and say 'hey' to all the guys during the regular season. It just wouldn't be that way, but today was just different. I hadn't seen them in a while. I talked to a couple of them on the phone, but that's just it."
Myers hurt his groin while covering first base in the sixth inning of the Astros' 8-7 loss to the Phillies. Before he could throw another pitch, Astros manager Brad Mills and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero were on their way to the mound. Myers threw a warmup toss and decided to call it a day after 80 pitches.
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"I felt something, and I learned from previous muscle stuff to not push it again," Myers said. "I gave it one throw and felt it a little bit and thought, 'It's not worth it.' If I did keep going I could have [been out] a month instead of like three days."
Myers said he didn't consider the injury to be serious.
"Not at all," he said. "I knew it was kind of minor, and I didn't want to risk it because we're so close to the season. It could be a week, but I don't know. We'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Myers was greeted with a smattering of boos and cheers before his first at-bat.
"That's Philly, man," he said. "That's what they do. I told [Brian] Schneider, the catcher, 'They still love me here,' when they were booing. It's all in fun. They shouldn't cheer for me. I felt appreciated when I came out of the game, and they all stood up and clapped for me. I really appreciated that. That was very respectful. I know Philly fans get a bad rap, but they're loyal to the guys that played there and done things for the organization. I really appreciated that. That was classy. I'd do the same for them if I had to cheer for them."
Myers held court with Houston and Philadelphia reporters for more than 10 minutes after he came out of the game and was asked about his feelings toward the Phillies, who decided to part ways with him after last season.
"They were good to me," he said. "They were family for a long time. I still think of them as family but on the other side of the field. I guess it's like when you have a stepbrother, and you usually don't like your stepbrother when you're playing against them or anything.
"They've been my family for a long time, and I don't have anything bad to say about them or the organization itself. I pretty much grew up in the organization, and they took care of me for 10 years. I have nothing bad to say about them."
Still, Myers had a job to do. He allowed two singles in the first and a hit and a walk in the second without giving up any runs. He beat out an infield single in the second, and allowed an RBI single to Chase Utley and an RBI groundout by Raul Ibanez in the third. Shane Victorino got him for an RBI single in the fourth.
"It kind of felt like the past couple of years when I would throw BP to them early in Spring Training," Myers said. "I was out there telling [Jayson Werth], 'What do you want to hit? I'll throw you what you want.' I threw him two fastballs down the middle, and he was like 'What are those? BP fastballs?' I said, 'Dude, I'm only throwing 82 [mph] out there.' That was fun, though."
It's no secret Myers has a tremendous amount of respect for Manuel, who yelled at Myers to take a strike when he came to bat. Myers pointed at his uniform and reminded him that it said "Astros." He has certainly found a new home, but part of him remains with the Phillies.
"He just told me he missed me and stuff like that," Myers said. "I said 'Yeah, right.' He goes, 'It's a lot quieter without you around here,' and I said, 'Is that a good thing or a bad thing?' He goes, 'Well, kind of both.' I liked having fun, and do it over here, too. He's right. He wants me to do well, and I want them to do well, but not against me or my team."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.