03/10/2013 2:25 PM ET
Astros a-buzz after heated Mexico-Canada tilt
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The bench-clearing fight between the Canadian and Mexican national teams in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night was a hot topic of discussion in the Astros' clubhouse Sunday morning.
Mexican-born pitcher Edgar Gonzalez hadn't heard about the fight until he arrived at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday and had teammates ask him about it. He pitched three innings Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and didn't get back to Kissimmee until late evening.
"Everyone was asking me what happened with the Mexican team, and I said, 'I don't know,'" he said. "I was too tired yesterday. As soon as I got here, I went to bed and went to sleep for the night. After the game today, I'm going to reach out to my friends that play on the Mexican team and figure out what's going on."
Left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard, who pitched for his native Canada in the Classic in 2006, saw the highlights as well and was more focused on the fact Canada that won the game, 10-3.
"It's fun to see your own country compete and show their talent," he said.
Bedard said Classic games are very intense, especially when put up against your run-of-the-mill Spring Training game.
"It's really competitive and you have a playoff atmosphere from Day 1," he said. "It's fun to represent your country."
DeShields, Springer among first Astros cuts
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, reassigning second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.
The cuts left the Astros with 53 players in camp.
"The important thing for players like DeShields and Springer, who are a part of our future, was to come up here and make a good impression with a new staff, and both of them absolutely did that," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Goebbert has been a part of our Minor League system for a while and made a good impression, and Krauss had some big hits for us.
"The message to all those guys basically is you accomplished what your goal was this spring, you came up here and made a good impression on the staff.
"Krauss is a little bit closer. He's a guy you could see having some time in Houston this year, and it's nice when the staff has positive feelings about them, so when we have a discussion, if there's an opening later in the summer, they'll be inclined to want him to come up.
"For all those guys, they did exactly what we wanted them to do."
Minor League games begin on Thursday, and the Astros are expected to make another round of cuts later in the week, likely Wednesday. Luhnow said there is still a group of players who were added to the roster this year and can't be sent down for a couple of days.
"It makes sense for them to go down there and get regular playing time rather than struggling to get at-bats up here," Luhnow said. "As we get deeper and deeper into spring, the pitchers are going to be extended, but we want to see the position players be out there longer than two or three at-bats. It's just a matter of allocating that resource of playing time."
Players who were added to the 40-man roster for the first time this year can't be cut from camp until Wednesday.
DeShields, the team's first-round pick in 2010, was Houston's Minor League Player of the Year after stealing a combined 101 bases. He's ranked No. 6 among Astros prospects. Springer, who is ranked No. 3, was the team's top Draft pick in 2011. He put up big numbers at Class A Lancaster last year, with 22 homers, 82 RBIs and a 955 OPS, before hitting .219 in 22 games with Double-A Corpus Christi.
"Obviously, the more impressions they made here, the better chance they have of starting at a higher level," Luhnow said. "Realistically, given that Springer got a taste of Double-A last year and DeShields got a taste of high [Class] A, we don't want to be too unrealistic about what the right level is for their development."
Astros skipper Porter emphasizes respect in game
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- There's little doubt Astros manager Bo Porter brings plenty of intensity to the dugout, and the skipper's feistiness was on display late last year when he got into a shouting match with Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk -- an argument that ensued over baseball's unwritten rules.
Quirk reportedly became angry when the Nationals' Jayson Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch while the bases were loaded in the fifth inning and Washington leading, 7-2. Quirk began yelling at Porter, who was coaching third base right in front of the Nationals' dugout, apparently upset the Nationals were still trying score.
Porter talked at length Sunday about the code of baseball's unwritten rules and what's fair game and what isn't.
"How can you expect us to stop playing when you're allowed to continue to play?" Porter said. "Why shouldn't he swing at 3-0? It's your pitcher's fault the count is 3-0. … A prime example is we were up on the Braves, 9-0, about a week later and we lost the game."
Porter said there's a fine line between proper sportsmanship and playing the game hard -- he said he would have a problem with someone trying to spike second baseman Jose Altuve, for example -- but the game should always be played with respect.
"There are certain times in the game where respect for the game is pretty much self-explanatory," Porter said. "There's a fine line you can draw. Let's just say you're down by four in the ninth inning and they're not holding a guy on, that's my way of telling you I don't care about that run."
Maxwell's contract renewed by Astros
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros renewed the contract of outfielder Justin Maxwell on Sunday, meaning all 40 players on the roster are now under contract. Maxwell was the only one of the Astros's 35 players who are not eligible for salary arbitration to have a contract renewed by the team.
For players who have between zero and three years of service time and aren't yet eligible for arbitration, the team has the right to settle their contract at whatever figure they desire, as long as it's at or above the Major League minimum of $490,000. There's usually a small amount of negotiations.
The Astros, like most clubs, assign salaries for those players based on their own schedule, which takes into consideration service time and players' contributions from previous seasons. When the players agree to the figure, it's considered a signed, negotiated deal.
If the player doesn't feel the contract is the appropriate value, the player has the right to refuse the renewal. At that point, the club is free to renew the salary at any figure it wishes, as long as it's at or above the minimum.
The only players on the 40-man roster who weren't eligible for renewals were pitchers Bud Norris ($3 million), Jose Veras ($2 million), Wesley Wright ($1.025 million) and Philip Humber ($800,000) and designed hitter/first baseman Carlos Pena ($2.9 million).
• Left-hander Erik Bedard (strained glute) should appear in a game in the next few days, manager Bo Porter said. Bedard has been limited to two innings this spring, but he threw in the bullpen Saturday without any issues.
• Right-hander Lucas Harrell (groin strain) is working out with the club is progressing, but it will be a couple of days before he gets back on the mound.
• Roger Clemens is back in camp for his third and final stint in his new role as special assistant to the general manager. Clemens addressed a group of Minor League pitchers prior to their workout on the back fields on Sunday.