2/14/2013 2:04 P.M. ET
Nameless jerseys are team-first message
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- This isn't exactly the best year for the Astros to not put the names of players on the backs of their Spring Training jerseys. After all, only 22 of the 61 players in camp this year were at camp a year ago, and the 40-man roster has seen a 50-percent turnover since the end of the season.
Still, manager Bo Porter told the players on the first day of camp he wants them to earn the names across their backs by making the club on Opening Day. Until then, it's numbers only on the backs of the team's jerseys.
"It was explained to the players exactly why," Porter said. "The name on the front [is what] matters, and we have 25 guys that will earn the right to have the name put on the back, and that will be the 25 men that will make this ballclub. It definitely was done by design. It's a message sent to them that it's all about the Astros."
The players were on board with the notion.
"Bo said we have to earn our names when we get to the big leagues," pitcher Rudy Owens said. "It makes sense and gives you something to look forward to."
Porter, Astros celebrate Humber's perfecto
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros pitcher Philip Humber isn't one to bring much attention to himself, but manager Bo Porter certainly put him -- and the perfect game he threw last year for the White Sox -- in the limelight on Thursday.
Porter arranged to have Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Humber's April 21 perfect game against Seattle, to call from Arizona as the Astros' players gathered in the clubhouse to have a sparkling cider toast to celebrate Humber's accomplishment.
"It was kind of cool," Pierzynski said. "It's not every day you get to do that. It was nice of Bo to include me, especially for Phil. He's a great guy."
Porter wanted to take the opportunity to honor an event that has happened so few times and is universally celebrated throughout baseball.
"Obviously, it's quite an honor and it's special when you're able to accomplish pinnacles in this game," Porter said. "We're grateful to have Philip Humber in our organization and get him over from the White Sox, but we wanted to acknowledge him today."
The team also acknowledged bullpen coach Dennis Martinez, who threw the 13th perfect game in history in 1991 for Montreal. Humber threw the 21st perfect game in history last year, just a couple of months before Matt Cain accomplished the feat against the Astros.
"It was really cool," Humber said. "It was good to do something like that. Nothing to do with me, just to have something for the team to come together. I thought it was a good deal. I wasn't expecting it. It was fun for everybody."
When Thursday's workout concluded, Porter took the pitchers and catchers to a conference room upstairs at Osceola County Stadium to watch the final three outs of Humber's perfect game.
"We made an adjustment with the [post-workout] shaking hands, and we moved that indoors and we had a little video set aside for the guys," Porter said. "The last three outs of the video [were] Humber's last three outs of his perfect game, and then we shook hands."
Gonzalez takes scenic route to Spring Training
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- No Astros player had a longer trip to Spring Training than pitcher Edgar Gonzalez.
About 12 hours after he helped his native Mexico win the Caribbean World Series in Hermosillo, Sonora, last week, Gonzalez packed his white truck with his luggage and began an 1,800-mile drive to Kissimmee that took him 34 hours to complete.
He stopped in Laredo, Texas, to pick up a friend and spend the night. He wound up spending about $700 in gasoline.
"It's a big truck," Gonzalez said.
Still, Gonzalez said being behind the wheel was better than flying.
"I had all my luggage in my truck and that was an important thing," Gonzalez said. "I put everything in my truck, and I like to do that. If something happens, I have my truck and I have everything in there. No problem. I don't like to fly and pay for extra luggage, because it's extra, extra, extra. I bring like six pieces of luggage, and if I can fly, I can only bring two or three. I figured that was much better."
Trainers err on side of caution as Ambriz rolls ankle
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros saw their second minor injury of the spring when relief pitcher Hector Ambriz rolled his ankle during a drill. He was removed from the field to be examined by trainers and have the ankle taped.
"It's minor, but at the same time, we want to be careful this time of year," manager Bo Porter said. "They said it's a little tender, a little sore. He'll get treatment, and we'll re-evaluate him [Friday]."
Meanwhile, catcher Max Stassi, acquired in last week's trade with Oakland, was held out of drills for the second day in a row because of a strained oblique.
"We just want to be careful," Porter said. "He comes over here from Oakland, and it's something we knew about, but at the same time, it's too early in the spring to even push it. We're not close to playing games, and it allows us to get this thing healed so when he does get back on the field, he's ready to go."
Top prospects report early to camp
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Second baseman Delino DeShields Jr. and outfielder George Springer, a pair of former first-round picks who are at their second Major League camp, reported to Osceola County Stadium on Thursday, one day ahead of the reporting date for players.
"It was a long winter," DeShields said after signing autographs for fans. "I'm excited to see the new environment and meet the new people. There's been a lot of changes. It's different, but I like it."
DeShields Jr. will get the chance this spring to work with legendary basestealer Vince Coleman, who's joined the Astros' staff.
Coleman stole 752 bases in 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, and became the only player in history to steal more than 100 bases in three consecutive seasons when he was with St. Louis (1985-87). He will be an outfield/baserunning developmental specialist assigned to Class A Quad Cities.
DeShields Jr.'s eyes lit up when he found out Coleman would be in camp; the prospect stole 101 bases last year en route to being named Astros Minor League Player of the Year.
"He's here? That's cool," DeShields Jr. said. "I'll be excited to talk to him and meet him and stuff, and see what he's got under his sleeves."
Astros manager Bo Porter is going to great lengths to make sure there's good chemistry in the clubhouse. He encouraged the players to bring music into the clubhouse earlier this week, and he's going to start having food delivered to the clubhouse following workouts to encourage the players to hang around and talk.
"You want to make it a place they want to come," Porter said. "I explained to the guys, some of your best lessons of playing baseball are with your teammates after you're done with your workout and you're just sitting around and talking about baseball, sitting around and talking about the day, the game and other teams. You talk about each other's families. You get to know each other. As an organization, we have to provide the atmosphere that helps create that culture."