Lyles making case for Astros' last spot
Pitching coach Arnsberg impressed by righty's comfort level
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros would prefer to have someone other than Jordan Lyles step up and win the fifth starter's spot, allowing the 20-year-old right-hander to begin the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. But Lyles is off to a strong start in Grapefruit League play and opening eyes through two appearances.
Lyles threw three innings on Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., allowing three hits and one unearned run. In five innings this spring, he's given up four hits, one walk and no earned runs. Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has been impressed with Lyles' poise.
2010 Spring Training - Houston Astros
News & Features
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"He looked real comfortable, and that's really exciting to see out of a 20-year-old," Arnsberg said. "That's pretty impressive. I had talked to people in the organization, and this was the first two times I had seen him throw. Nothing bothers him."
Arnsberg said Lyles was pounding the strike zone on Saturday but staying out of the middle of the plate, for the most part. He threw strikes early in counts and wasn't intimidated by a Cardinals lineup that included Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
"He threw a couple of real nice changeups, a couple of decent hooks and some real nice sliders," Arnsberg said. "I know his hook in the 'pen has been better than in the last game, but it still was usable for him, and I know any other given day, he's going to have a better hook. I was mostly impressed with his fastball command, pitching out of the center of the plate.
"If he continues to be around the zone and continues to hit on one of his two or both of his breaking balls and his changeup, he can pitch in the big leagues right away."
In his fight for the Astros' No. 5 spot, Lyles is up against Nelson Figueroa, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton. Lyles is a non-roster invitee to camp after going a combined 7-12 with a 3.54 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) at Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock last season.
Testing out curveball, Myers content
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- On Sunday, Astros right-hander Brett Myers broke out his curveball for the first time in game action this spring and was pleased with the results. Myers threw three innings in Houston's 10-8 loss to the Yankees, allowing five hits and two runs.
"It was pretty good," Myers said. "If you would have seen me trying to throw it the other day in the bullpen, you would be like, 'I don't know what the heck is going on.' I probably didn't make three to the plate. I was happy with being able to get the arm slot down and be able to throw it."
Myers threw 41 pitches (32 strikes) and went to the bullpen and threw 26 more pitches to get his pitch count up. Myers is scheduled to throw about 75 pitches in his next start, and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg didn't want him going from 41 up to 75.
"It's kind of difficult sometimes when you want to throw a certain pitch, knowing you haven't even worked on it yet, though," Myers said. "You know the right pitch to throw, but you end up throwing something else because you haven't worked on the pitch in the bullpen.
"It's kind of weird, but that's the way Spring Training goes. You try to get your mind prepared for what you want to throw during the season, but right now, you're not throwing that pitch. Once I work on all of the pitches, hopefully it will be a little bit smoother, and hopefully I will do a little better when I get the whole repertoire out there."
Bourn knows to preserve body in spring
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros center fielder Michael Bourn, who has led the National League in stolen bases the past two seasons, doesn't plan to rack up the steals in Grapefruit League play, hoping instead to save his body for the regular season.
"I kind of ease myself into it," Bourn said. "I get my running in throughout the day. I don't like to beat my body up in Spring Training like that. When I'm running and sliding, I'm going full force, and I don't know how to ease into sliding. Once you're running, you're running."
Bourn, who stole 61 bases in 2009 and 52 bases last year, practices getting good jumps and tries to get his timing down by watching the pitchers closely.
"I've heard people say that used to steal a lot of bases back in the day; they didn't steal a whole lot during Spring Training to save those legs," Bourn said. "That part of the game is not easy on the legs. If I go out there and steal 15 bases in Spring Training, that's not going to do me any good.
"It's good to work on your jumps, but I do that. I just kind of came back [to first base]. I might be thinking about it while I'm over there. That's the thing about it, is to think about it and get used to pickoff moves and see how far you can gauge a lead. I do that. I like to work on getting better jumps on balls in the dirt. If I see somebody kick one away, I will go."
Astros debating first round of cuts
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With Minor League spring camp under way on the back fields of Osceola County Stadium, the first cuts from the Astros' Major League camp can't be too far away.
"We're still a few days away," manager Brad Mills said.
The Astros have 63 players in camp and will need some of those extra bodies to get through a schedule that includes two split-squad dates within the next week. General manager Ed Wade said it's not too early to start thinking about cuts.
"But I don't know when it's going to happen," Wade said. "As you know, we don't telegraph that stuff. The extenuating circumstances are these split-squad games. We might be slower than normal because we added the Boston split games later in the schedule, [on Tuesday and 13].
"We have to navigate those and see where we're at before we start sending bodies over [to Minor League camp]. We had been supplementing our unit over here with the [Minor League] mini-camp guys."
Right-hander Wilton Lopez was sent home to rest after showing up on Sunday morning feeling under the weather. He threw a scoreless inning in Saturday's game. ... Aneury Rodriguez, a Rule 5 draftee, will make his first start of the spring on Tuesday in a split-squad game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. He will pitch two or three innings and will be followed by Pendleton, another Rule 5 pickup. ... Jason Michaels could see his first action of the spring in the outfield during one of Tuesday's split-squad games. Michaels, who homered off Phil Hughes in the second inning of Sunday's game, has been limited to a designated-hitter role the first week of spring because of a sore right arm. ... Actress Cameron Diaz was in the stands for Sunday's game against the Yankees.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.