Notes: Baker on lineup; Urquidy a hit in Mexico

February 21st, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager Dusty Baker said his starting lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches would feature young players, with the veterans getting sprinkled in Sunday and Monday.

“This is time for the kids to play,” Baker said. “We’ll play some of the regulars the day after and some of the regulars the day after that in Lakeland [Fla., against the Tigers].”

While Baker has more familiarity with star players like Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, José Altuve and George Springer, he doesn’t know as much about Myles Straw, Abraham Toro, Jack Mayfield and Garrett Stubbs, among others.

“I’m curious about most of them because I don’t know them,” Baker said. “I’m more curious about the young players that may help us at the start of the season or as the season goes on, so you can have some input on the decision of who’s on your team.”

Baker said he also plans to spend some time at Minor League minicamp, which opened Friday, to get a gauge on the younger kids.

“I can learn a lot -- like who’s screwing around, who’s stretching and who’s serious,” Baker said. “A little tip here or there could send a young man’s career in sync.”

Two pitchers sidelined
Right-handers Riley Ferrell and Rogelio Armenteros are both dealing with injuries that have kept them off the mound. Ferrell has a right shoulder injury that required him to travel to Houston to get examined further, and Armenteros has right shoulder and elbow injuries that have shut him down from throwing. Armenteros has remained with the club in West Palm Beach.

Armenteros, 25, made his Major League debut last year and appeared in five games, including two starts, and struck out 18 batters in 18 innings with a 4.00 ERA. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Round Rock and was 6-7 with a 4.80 ERA in 19 games (18 starts). The Cuban also pitched 19 innings in the Dominican Winter League.

Ferrell, 26, is back in Astros camp this year after spending last spring with Miami, which plucked him away in the Rule 5 Draft following the ’18 season. The Marlins returned him to the Astros on June 23 after he battled injuries. Overall, he appeared in 19 Minor League games between the Marlins and Astros, posting a 3.65 ERA.

Urquidy big in Mexico
Jose Urquidy’s breakout season made him a hit in his hometown of Mazatlan, Mexico, where he said he would get recognized routinely during the offseason. Urquidy pitched in just nine games with the Astros last year in the regular season, posting a 3.95 ERA, but he became the third Mexican-born pitcher to earn a World Series win, joining Aurelio Lopez (1984) and Fernando Valenzuela (1984).

“Mazatlan is a small city and the people love baseball and they know what I did, know where I am and know it’s the big leagues, and really it was all very surprising when people recognize me,” Urquidy said. “It was something very special.”

Urquidy, the second Mexican-born pitcher to start a game for Houston, threw five scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series in Washington. He threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his postseason debut in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Rays and struck out five batters in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

All that made him a hot commodity throughout Mexico. In fact, in November, Urquidy was invited to meet Mexico president Andrés Manuel López Obrador in his office in Mexico City, where he was recognized for his World Series performance.

“Just talking about baseball,” Urquidy said. “He loves baseball. He said he knows baseball and he was watching the World Series and he was hoping we won.”