03/28/12 9:23 AM ET
Astros make moves to cut roster by five
Bixler sent to Minors as club narrows down to 34 players
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Bixler was the biggest surprise, considering he's had a good camp at the plate and has shown his versatility by playing in the outfield. He slugged his third homer of the spring on Tuesday. Bixler will see time at shortstop and center field at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"It's tough to talk to a guy about that, but he knows the situation we're in," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He's going to go to Triple-A and he's going to be ready. He's the type of guy who can play a lot of positions, has tools and is well-liked with our big league staff. I have a feeling if an opportunity arises, he'll be back."
Sanchez, meanwhile, spent all of last season with the Astros and was the Opening Day starter at shortstop. He was slowed by a back injury early in spring, but was hitting .412 in Grapefruit League play.
"That's one of his best assets is that he does swing the bat and takes a really good Major League at-bat," Luhnow said. "That's going to give him an opportunity to have a career at the big league level. Right now, we need him to go to Oklahoma City and play shortstop almost every day and be ready in case there's a need."
The moves leave the Astros with seven infielders, meaning one more cut will need to be made. Assuming have Carlos Lee, Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Chris Johnson starting on the infield, the final two spots will come down to Matt Downs, Brett Wallace and Rule 5 Draft pick Marwin Gonzalez.
The Astros are settled with Jason Castro and Chris Snyder at catcher (Carlos Corporan and Landon Powell are still in camp) and have to cut one more outfielder, likely from among Justin Ruggiano, Travis Buck and J.B. Shuck.
"We still have a couple of extra position players, but you guys can look at it and take your best guess," Luhnow said. "We're still going to use all our available time to figure it out. As we're making decisions, we're being quick about letting players know they're no longer in the mix. Anybody that's still on the club is still in the mix."