03/12/12 10:45 PM ET
Crane seeks top spring amenities for Astros
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
Crane brought along former pro golfer Butch Harmon and Harmon's son, Claude, on a "mixed" golf outing and Spring Training trip, taking an extensive tour of the Yankees' complex. Crane said he was studying the facilities as the Astros consider any potential changes they might make regarding their spring home.
The Astros are currently committed to a contract for their current facility in Kissimmee, Fla., for three more years after this Spring Training.
"We're definitely studying the facilities," Crane said. "We're going to take a walk around inside. Of course, the Yankees are at the top of the food chain, so we want to work our way up. This is a great facility. I think the facility we have up there is nice in Kissimmee. You've got to look at everything when you're doing that."
Crane confirmed that the Major League teams that spend their springs in Florida sent representatives to a meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, adding that the state is working hard to encourage more clubs to stay rather than move to Arizona for Cactus League play.
Crane also acknowledged that the Astros are still discussing their uniforms for the 2013 season, bringing in a focus group next week to take a look before making a final decision by May 1.
"We'll have it ready to go and submit and see where we go from that," Crane said.
Sharp sinker helps Weiland thrive
TAMPA, Fla. -- Kyle Weiland couldn't have handled his first Spring Training start much better.
The newly acquired right-hander, battling for a spot in the Astros' rotation, threw four scoreless, hitless innings in Monday's 4-3 win over the Yankees, striking out one and inducing nine ground-ball outs, with his sinker working about as well as possible. Making his third appearance of the spring, Weiland needed only 49 pitches -- 32 of which were strikes -- to get through four innings.
"I felt really good today," Weiland said. "From the first couple throws, I knew my arm felt good. The big challenge I knew today was going to be monitoring my effort level, because when your arm feels good, a lot of times you tend to get the ball up a lot. That obviously gets hit.
"My main focus early on was to control my intensity level a little bit and let them put the ball into play and try to let my sinker work. They did that for me -- a lot of early swings, so that makes for an easier outing."
It certainly looked easy for Weiland. His lone mistake was a poorly thrown curveball that plunked Cole Garner, but other than that, he was using his sinker, changeup, curveball and cutter effectively and making a strong case that he is ready for a spot in the starting rotation.
"He threw the ball extremely well -- his poise out there was very impressive," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He was throwing all of his pitches and mixing them very well and with command. The biggest thing was that fastball, and he kept it down so well."
Sim game productive for Norris, other Astros
TAMPA, Fla. -- Three members of the Astros' walking wounded got their work in on Monday morning, when right-hander Bud Norris threw a four-inning simulated game with Humberto Quintero behind the plate and Justin Ruggiano and Travis Buck in the batter's box.
Houston manager Brad Mills said that Norris, the lone healthy participant in that simulated game, worked on his secondary pitches and looked "very good throwing those." Quintero (bulging disk) caught Norris' sim game and felt good, making six or seven throws to second base and moving very well behind the plate. He was also scheduled to hit off a tee, though Mills hadn't received word of how that went as of Monday afternoon.
Ruggiano and Buck, both dealing with oblique injuries, were in need of at-bats and hit off Norris, and Mills reported that both felt good afterward.
The Astros had one new injury concern on Monday, as Mills said right-hander Wilton Lopez was dealing with forearm tightness and, despite his insistence on pitching, will get a few days off.
There were two Astros on the mend on Monday, though, as Angel Sanchez started at second base -- his first appearance after being sidelined all spring with lower back discomfort -- and went 1-for-1 with a walk. Jimmy Paredes made his second start of the spring after missing five games with a sore left wrist, finishing 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Mills wouldn't reveal when he will cut down his spring roster by sending players to Minor League camp. However, he said, "We've got it pretty well marked out."
Mills said his club was trying to add a "B" game to its schedule some time soon in order to get more innings for his pitching staff. He said his pitchers were made aware that there wouldn't be a great number of innings to go around, given the number of arms in camp, meaning they would have to make a strong impression in the time they're given.
"One inning isn't very much," Mills said, "but at the same time, that's something."
Right-hander Paul Clemens, back from Atlanta to be with his wife for the birth of their son, threw "pretty extensively" in a side session on Monday, Mills said, but the Astros don't have an exact day in mind to get him back on the field.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.