Notes: Roster rundown; Correa contract talks

Astros set path for Odorizzi debut; pitcher injury updates

March 30th, 2021

HOUSTON -- With winning the fourth outfield spot and making the team as the sixth infielder, the Astros’ 26-man roster appears set prior to Thursday’s season opener against the A’s. But Astros general manager James Click said Tuesday the club is still waiting to clear some final hurdles before being able to announce it.

“We're right on the one-yard line,” he said. “We’re just finalizing a few details.”

Houston starting center fielder Myles Straw was allowed to travel with the team to Oakland on Tuesday after clearing health and safety protocols, along with catcher Garrett Stubbs and infielder Abraham Toro, who aren’t on the Opening Day roster. The Astros flew home Monday for a team COVID-19 vaccination event before traveling to Oakland on Tuesday.

“We just want to make sure everybody gets through the health and safety protocols over the next 48 hours,” Click said. “We don’t want to do something where we set the roster and then have somebody get hurt [Wednesday or] develop symptoms or something like that.”

The Astros will be required to carry five players on the road this year on a taxi squad, one of which has to be a catcher. The taxi squad will be announced along with the Opening Day roster.

Astros hoping for 85 percent vaccinations
Click said he's hopeful the Astros can hit the 85-percent vaccination threshold among their Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals, which would allow the COVID-19 protocols to be relaxed. Major League Baseball reportedly sent a memo to clubs this week and outlined less-stringent protocols for teams which reached that benchmark.

Those who are fully vaccinated and are on a team with 85-percent of fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to gather in more places without masks, eat inside restaurants and stay at their homes while traveling. They also won’t have to wear a mask while exercising or inform someone if they leave the hotel.

“We’re optimistic about it,” Click said. “We’ll take stock of where we are now that we’ve had the vaccines available for a couple of days, but the attitude on the roster is the guys are very motivated to get to 85 percent.”

Tier 1 and Tier 2 covers players, coaches and staff members with the Major League club and at the alternate training site in Corpus Christi, Texas, and also includes front-office personnel who come in close contact with the players.

Correa negotiations down to wire
Click said negotiations with shortstop Carlos Correa continued over the weekend, but he wouldn’t say Tuesday if the sides were any closer to a deal. Correa issued a Thursday deadline to either sign a contract extension or test the free-agent market next offseason. He said last week he turned down a six-year, $120 million offer from the Astros.

“We’re still having active conversations,” Click said. “We’re going to keep those conversations private. We feel it’s more productive to try to hash those out, and when we have a more substantive update, we’ll provide it.”

Path laid out for Odorizzi debut
Astros pitching coach Brent Strom pushed hard for the signing of veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who joined the Astros on March 8. Odorizzi will throw simulated games at the alternate training site on Saturday and April 8, which would put him in line to make his first start April 13 against the Tigers in Houston.

Strom said Randy Sullivan, who owns the Florida Baseball Ranch in Lakeland, Fla., sent him videos of Odorizzi working out, and Strom believes the righty is poised for a big season.

“When James would ask my opinion, I thought he was the best guy left out there,” Strom said. “He’s very inquisitive, very cerebral and knows what we want to do, and has embraced it so far.”

Strom said that because no starting pitcher topped 90 pitches in Spring Training (Lance McCullers Jr. threw 90 and Zack Greinke threw 88), the relievers will be used heavily the first time through the rotation. Strom added the club might be a little proactive in removing starting pitchers “maybe a hair sooner than we would” considering the extra workload they’ll be asked to carry this year as compared to the shortened 2020 season.

“There’s no hard-and-fast rule,” he said. “Everybody talks about starters, but relievers are going to have to carry a large burden.”

Injury updates from Strom and Click
• Andre Scrubb (right shoulder fatigue) is feeling better and could be ready to pitch by the middle of April.

• Pedro Báez (COVID-19) has been slow to get ramped up following his positive test and may not be ready until late April.

• Josh James (left hip surgery) was at the complex in West Palm Beach last week and is feeling well. He might not return until June.

• Framber Valdez (broken left ring finger) has to pass “a couple of checkpoints along the way,” which will determine how quickly he can get back on the field.