KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros addressed their need for a left-handed bat off the bench by acquiring infielder Joe Inglett from the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.
Inglett, who will join the Astros on Monday in Clearwater, Fla., led all Major League players in pinch-hits last year, batting .294 with two doubles, four triples and a home run with the Brewers. Astros general manager Ed Wade said he had interest in Inglett in the offseason before he signed a Minor League deal with Tampa Bay.
"We know he can give us a quality at-bat off the bench in that role and can play around the infield, can play a little bit of outfield," he said. "We'll throw him into the mix here for the next couple of days and give him a chance and see where it all leads."
Wade said he began having conversations with Rays general manager Andrew Friedman about Inglett before starting shortstop Clint Barmes broke his hand when he was hit by a pitch on Friday. Inglett isn't in the running to start at shortstop, but his chances to make the club are good.
2010 Spring Training - Houston Astros
News & Features
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"We're trying to see if there are left-handed opportunities, and right now, if you look at the way we're set up, you've got Anderson Hernandez as a switch-hitter and J.B. Shuck as a left-handed hitter in the mix," Wade said. "We think that with Inglett's experience and the fact he's succeeded in that role in the past, it made sense to bring him in and give us a little bit more to consider putting the final roster together."
Prior to joining the Brewers last season, Inglett had been with the Blue Jays the previous three seasons (2007-09) and hit .297 and .281 in 2008-09, respectively. He has a .286 career average in 313 Major League games with 35 doubles, 17 triples, six home runs and 76 RBIs. Inglett has a .272 career average as a pinch-hitter with a home run and eight RBIs.
Also in the competition for a backup infield spot are Tommy Manzella, Angel Sanchez and Matt Downs, though one of those -- or Hernandez -- will have to start the season in Barmes' place. Manager Brad Mills on Sunday told non-roster invitees Oswaldo Navarro, an infielder, and Ross Wolf, a pitcher, they weren't going to make the club.
Wade said he expects to wait until Thursday to finalize the roster, including sorting out the infield, settling on a backup outfielder and putting together the last few pieces of the bullpen.
"We'll use whatever amount of time they give us to try to come to the right decisions, whether it's sifting through the guys that are here right now or paying attention to the waiver wire or making phone calls to see if there are other things we might be able to do," Wade said.
Wandy seeks better command in future
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- For the second year in a row, Wandy Rodriguez will enter the regular season after having a not-so-stellar performance in Spring Training.
Rodriguez struggled mightily with command in his final start of the spring Sunday, allowing six hits, four walks and five runs in three innings while throwing 90 pitches against the Tigers. He went 0-3 with an 8.04 ERA in five starts and missed a rotation turn with mild shoulder tendinitis.
Rodriguez, who will start Saturday in Philadelphia, walked the first two batters he faced and wound up giving up two runs in the first inning and three in the second.
"My arm feels strong," he said. "I tried to make quality pitches and I missed a lot. You could see today in the game I had a lot of walks. That's my big problem today. I feel strong and tried to throw too hard, and that's my big mistake."
Manager Brad Mills said it was a matter of not being able to locate his fastball.
"We had a good talk afterward and he felt he was real strong and couldn't command his fastball and that's not him," he said. "When he's able to command his fastball, it makes all his other pitches better. We've all known that about him for years."
Towles still dealing with back issues
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros catcher J.R. Towles said Sunday his sore back had improved, though still not good enough for him to get behind the plate. Towles didn't play against the Tigers, with non-roster invitee Carlos Corporan getting the start.
"I'm feeling better," Towles said. "It's still just real tight and real sore when I make quick, short movements. I don't think it's going to be too much longer."
Towles, last year's Opening Day catcher, is expected to make the team this year in the wake of the injury to incumbent starter Jason Castro. Towles is hitting .324 with three homers and seven RBIs in 37 at-bats this spring.
"I think if I nip it in the bud real quick, it will be over with," he said. "I never had back problems, and I don't expect any problems to linger. My bed hasn't been comfortable, and I noticed my back was getting a little tight and it caught up to me. I'll get in the house [in Houston] and get in a comfortable bed and it will be better."
Bullpen depth satisfies GM Wade
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The competition for the bullpen has pleased general manager Ed Wade, who said there are probably five or six pitchers competing for the final two spots in relief.
Brandon Lyon and Wilton Lopez are locks, and Mark Melancon and Jeff Fulchino appear to be in good shape. Wade also indicated Ryan Rowland-Smith may have an inside track on grabbing one of the left-handed spots, and Enerio Del Rosario hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 1/3 spring innings.
Left-hander Fernando Abad had his best stuff of the spring Saturday, and right-hander Henry Villar has been impressive.
"I'm very comfortable with Lyon as the closer and Wilton as the eighth-inning guy," Wade said. "Melancon has shown the ability to pitch late in games. Rowland-Smith, we'll give Ryan the opportunity to be one of the left-handers. Fernando Abad threw his best of the spring [Saturday], which I think was important.
"Aneury Rodriguez has thrown well down here. Del Rosario has been really solid for us. We like the way people have stepped up and taken advantage of opportunities, and hopefully we end up making the right decisions."
Del Rosario, who was acquired in a trade from the Reds late last season, has impressed manager Brad Mills.
"He's really opened some eyes," Mills said. "If there is a surprise in the camp, that's a pretty good one."
Rule 5 pick Pendleton sent back to Yanks
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Driving along Interstate 4 on his way to Yankees camp in Tampa, Fla., pitcher Lance Pendleton on Sunday expressed disappointment about not being able to stick with his hometown Astros, who tendered him back to the Yankees.
The Astros drafted Pendleton, a Houston native who played at Rice University, in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft in December. He had to remain on the 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to the Yankees. He'll report to Yankees Minor League camp and begin the season in Triple-A.
"I didn't have the Spring Training that I needed to have or wanted to have," said Pendleton, who has allowed five runs in 7 2/3 innings this spring. "I was thinking they might be able to work out a trade for me and be able to send me to [Triple-A} Oklahoma City, but you just never know. I figured that's what they were waiting for to see if something like that was going to happen. I wasn't surprised.
"I was disappointed, not in the decision, but in myself and the Spring Training I had. I kind of got out of whack and didn't throw the way I wished I would have. You're dealt the cards you're dealt and you've got to play and that's how it went. I learned a lot and enjoyed the time I had with the Astros and the experience. No matter what happens, I need to get a little bit better and grow and work hard."
Astros general manager Ed Wade said he tried to work out a trade to keep Pendleton, but couldn't come up with a match with the Yankees. Right-hander Aneury Rodriguez, taken in the first round of the Rule 5 Draft from the Rays, remains in camp.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.