3/6/2014 3:06 P.M. ET
Astros taking it slow with Appel after appendectomy
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It's been slow going for top Draft pick Mark Appel.
Appel, who underwent an appendectomy last month, is being brought along very cautiously by the club and has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game or even face hitters during live batting practice. Appel has thrown off the mound a couple of times since camp started.
"Everything feels good," said Appel, taken with the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford last year. "They're taking some precautions after the appendectomy. The training staff wants me to be 100-percent healthy before I start pitching live. I'm taking it slow, just playing catch day by day. I'm kind of building up again after taking a break."
The Astros have a lot of money invested in Appel and certainly don't want to rush him, especially when he's not competing for a spot on the Opening Day staff. Still, he's looking forward to competing when he's completely recovered.
"I do want to be out there as soon as possible, but I also understand I'm looking at this from a whole career perspective and there's no sense rushing out there if I don't feel 100 percent right away, especially in Spring Training," he said. "And so, I don't think anybody really expected for me to make the team out of Spring Training. And so wherever I end up to start the season, I'm fully confident I'll be ready to go out and go four, five, six innings -- whatever they need me to do."
Feldman among hurlers who pitch in 'B' game
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros were able to get in some work prior to having to cancel Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium because of steady rains that drenched much of Florida.
As luck would have it, the Astros and Mets had scheduled a "B" game on one of the back fields earlier in the day, and they were able to play a few innings before rain fell. Scott Feldman, Brad Peacock, Raul Valdes and Matt Albers pitched in the game for the Astros.
"If we would have wound up getting rained out and not had the B squad game, now your pitching starts to get backed up," manager Bo Porter said. "Fortunately for us, we had the B squad game scheduled, and it was perfect timing to get those guys innings."
Feldman, the team's likely Opening Day starter, threw 33 pitches in three innings, and then tossed 15 more in the bullpen.
"I hate it when you get all prepared to pitch and the game gets rained out, so it was nice," Feldman said. "I was happy I got it in."
Peacock, who's still working on his changeup, threw 35 pitches in two innings, and 15 more in the bullpen. Raul Valdes tossed an inning and appears to be recovered from his left knee surgery.
Also, Mexican slugger Japhet Amador finally got into a game and singled in his first at-bat. Top prospect Carlos Correa went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs, including a double.
Biggio liking what he sees from Correa
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Craig Biggio's first of two scheduled stints at Spring Training was set to end Thursday. Biggio, a special advisor to the club, got a chance to see some of the team's Major League and Minor League players since his arrival on Monday.
Biggio spent some time during the week with 2012 No. 1 overall Draft pick Carlos Correa, the 6-foot-4 Puerto Rican shortstop who's wowed everyone in camp this year.
"He's going to be fine," Biggio said of the 19-year-old. "He just needs to keep working. He's got a big upside, and his ability speaks for itself. He has a good baseball mind, and he's driven to be as good as he could be. It's a good problem to have."
When asked if Correa was good enough to play in the Majors this year, Biggio punted.
"I haven't seen enough," he said. "I just want him to go out and play and see what happens."
Biggio came to camp from North Carolina, where he was watching his sons play in a college tournament for Notre Dame while scouting players the Astros are eyeing for the First-Year Player Draft. That included North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon, who is the favorite for the Astros at No. 1.
Rodon's next start will come this weekend against Notre Dame in Raleigh, N.C. Biggio's youngest son, Cavan, is a freshman second baseman for the Irish and has started all 11 games this year, hitting .263. His oldest son, Conor, is a junior who's an extra outfielder.
All players on Astros' 40-man roster under contract
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- All of the Astros players on the 40-man roster are now under contract after the team said Thursday it had reached deals with 31 pre-arbitration-eligible players. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but most deals are just above the $500,000 Major League minimum.
The Astros, according to information acquired by MLBTradeRumors.com, use a scale to reach agreements for players with zero to three years of experience, based on plate appearances, games started, games pitched and innings pitched the previous year. Players who received some year-end awards also received a bump.
Astros assistant general manager David Stearns didn't go into specifics, but he said the process was pretty routine. The only player who didn't reach a negotiated settlement was starting pitcher Jarred Cosart, who had his contract renewed at a salary set by the club.
"You go through the process and we were happy we were able to get 30 of the 31 done through the negotiated process," Stearns said. "Ultimately, the hope and the goal is you come to an agreement with the player on what the appropriate salary is. If you can't, then you go ahead and do a renewal. It's not an acrimonious process at all. It's all just kind of the rules that are laid out in the Basic Agreement."
• Center fielder Dexter Fowler's stiff neck was better Thursday, and he's expected to be in the lineup for Friday's game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla.