KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The news of Brett Myers being moved into the closer role and out of the rotation didn't come as a surprise to veteran closer Brandon Lyon, who was briefed about the decision days earlier. Lyon, who appeared in only 15 games last year before undergoing major arm surgery, understands the club's decision and is rooting for Myers.
"The main thing for me is getting myself healthy, and we'll figure all that stuff later," said Lyon, when asked about his role. "I'm not going to go in there and say, 'I want this role.' It's a matter of just basically getting going and seeing where I'm at. I know I can help this ballclub win games. If I'm healthy, everything is going to play out."
Lyon, in the final year of his three-year, $15 million deal, had surgery June 30 to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum. He has 78 career saves, including 20 with the Astros in 2010. Lyon said Myers, who saved 21 games for the Phillies in 2007, will be a very capable closer.
"I think he'll do just fine," Lyon said. "He definitely has the mentality to be in the bullpen. If he has a bad game or makes a bad pitch, he's going to make a quick adjustment. He's good at that and has been doing that for years, whether it's in the bullpen or the rotation. I'm excited to see him go out there with more adrenaline, more intensity coming out of the bullpen."
Lyon said he's ahead of where he hoped he would be eight months following his surgery and will be ready for Opening Day.
Speedy recovery: Castro ready for game action
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager Brad Mills said catcher Jason Castro is progressing so well from his offseason foot surgery that he will have no limitations when the team begins Grapefruit League play Saturday against Washington.
"We first thought he was going to be a week late, and then a few days and now it looks like he won't be late at all," Mills said. "We'll pick out what games we want him to maybe catch to start with. Right off the bat, I'm thinking three innings would be a good start for him. That would give him at least one at-bat."
Castro, who missed all of last season following right ACL surgery and then had another surgery in December to remove the sesamoid bone from his left foot, has been catching bullpens and taking batting practice without incident.
"I feel like where I'm at right now, I'm ready to start games," he said. "Obviously, there's work to be done throughout Spring Training. As far as being game-ready and starting that transition back into Spring Training games and building up, I feel I'm ready to go."
Clemens staying focused with first child on way
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- No one would blame pitcher Paul Clemens if he was lacking a little focus on the field these past few days.
Clemens, acquired by the Astros from the Braves in July as part of the Michael Bourn trade, and his wife are expecting their first child any day. His wife, Marlee, isn't due until March 15, but Clemens said doctors expect the couple's daughter to arrive by week's end.
"As soon as I get between the white lines, I'm pretty good at cutting off any outside distractions and get my job done," said Clemens, who is ranked No. 6 by MLB.com on the Astros' Top 20 Prospects list. "As soon as I get on the mound, all I'm thinking about is executing whatever pitch is put down. But as soon as I get off the field and get my shower and check my phone, my mind is right back on everything going smoothly."
Clemens has instructed his wife to call the athletic training staff if he's on the field to inform him when she goes into labor. The couple makes their home in Kennesaw, Ga., which is just outside Atlanta. Clemens said he could make it to his wife's side in about four hours via car.
"Hopefully it will be a long labor so I have time to get there and get my time and not get any speeding tickets," he said.
The couple will name their baby Gracelee. Clemens' wife is finishing up her degree at Georgia State.
Confident Buck familiar with spring auditions
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Few players in the Astros' clubhouse can say they've been on as many consecutive Opening Day rosters as non-roster outfielder Travis Buck, who is trying to make a team out of spring camp for the sixth year in a row.
Buck, 28, cracked the Opening Day roster with the A's from 2007-10, and last year with the Indians after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee. He batted .228 with two homers and 18 RBIs last year with Cleveland and appeared in 36 games at Triple-A.
"I know I'm one good year away from something big," Buck said. "I have all the confidence in my abilities that I will make the club. I've been on five Opening Day rosters the last five years, and that wasn't by default. I earned my way on there, and now it's just a matter of earning another spot this year and staying up there the whole year, which I haven't done in a while."
Buck, selected by Oakland with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, can play all three outfield positions and swings left-handed, which helps his case to make the club.
"I really think now the National League is where I belong," he said. "I figured out my swing. I have confidence, and now it's about going out there and trusting your game plan every time up there. This game is about confidence. The more confidence you get, the better you're going to do.
"For me, being in the National League, if I have a great camp and make the team, my chances of playing every day are good, whether it's pinch-hitting or as a defensive replacement. I think this is a really good spot for me in a great organization."
Astros roving Minor League hitting instructor Ty Van Burkleo was Buck's hitting coach in Oakland, and he's played for Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco.
Astros outfielder Jack Cust didn't participate in baserunning sprints after tweaking his right knee Tuesday. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday. "He bent over for a ball and felt something in the back of his knee and the trainers didn't want him to run on it," manager Brad Mills said. "I talked to him and he doesn't think it's that bad."