CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bud Norris was terrific in his first start of the spring. The Astros believe there's plenty more where that came from.
"We're just waiting for this guy to turn the corner. And he's close. He's very close. We all know he's got the great stuff to do it. So our expectations are that we're hoping it's this year," said manager Brad Mills after the 27-year-old right-hander tossed three hitless innings in a 10-3 win over the Phillies on Wednesday at Bright House Field.
The only glitch came when Norris quickly got an 0-2 count on Jim Thome leading off the bottom of the second, then walked the Phillies slugger. But Norris followed that by getting John Mayberry Jr. to ground into a double play. In fact, eight of Norris' nine outs came on grounders.
"Other than [the walk], he did a really good job of getting into some counts, making good pitches and getting out of there," Mills said. "He looked really good. We talk about guys maturing and just growing up through experience. It's just a process he has to go through, getting better as he goes. Everybody has to do it. I mean, he got to the big leagues really quick. He's done a lot of that work at the Major League level. So he's just getting to the point now where now everything's catching up. The maturity. The emotions. Knowing what he can and can't do."
Said Norris: "My arm felt good. Spring is all about getting your body in shape and taking care of yourself and getting out of here healthy. I've still got some things to work on, but not too shabby."
Optimism abounds as Astros build confidence
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A turnaround has to start somewhere. And Spring Training is as good a place as any for the Astros.
Wednesday's 10-3 win over the Phillies at Bright House Field gave Houston a 4-1 Grapefruit League record. And while those victories won't count when the regular season starts, they can help build confidence that will be invaluable when Opening Day rolls around.
"Everyone in here is hungry, trying to win a spot," said left fielder J.D. Martinez. "It doesn't matter that it's Spring Training. Everyone is out there giving it their best."
Added right-hander Bud Norris: "I think the fact that we're winning games helps. That's the mindset we want around here. The guys are playing hard, and it's good to see. We're excited about the future. We understand what we're getting ourselves into, but nothing really happens until April 6."
Martinez, who was called up when Hunter Pence was traded to the Phillies last season, is off to a torrid start. He had two doubles and three RBIs Wednesday and is hitting .500 for the spring.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well, but I still have a lot to work on," said Martinez, who drove in 28 runs in August after being inserted into the lineup. "I'll get better."
Said manager Brad Mills: "The more at-bats he gets, you'll see him start to come around a little bit. He came to camp real strong and had put the weight back on that he lost last year. Now he's starting to get some at-bats and we just want to make sure he stays where he is."
Catcher Humberto Quintero was examined by Dr. David Lintner in Houston on Wednesday and was given an injection to address the nerve inflammation he's been experiencing in his lower back. Manager Brad Mills said he's expected back in camp on Thursday and will play catch. It's hoped he'll be able to catch a bullpen on Saturday.
In other injury news, left-hander Sergio Escalona (elbow) continues to play catch. Mills hopes he can see his first game action in about a week.
The Astros have added to their front-office lineup. Kathleen Clark is the new vice president of marketing and strategy. Clark, a graduate of Harvard Business School, has more than 25 years of marketing and branding experience and has previously worked at Compaq Computer Corporation and more recently ran a Houston-based marketing consulting practice. She has specialized in linking business and marketing strategies as well as internal employee communications.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.