WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Astros made their first wave of roster moves in Spring Training on Wednesday, reassigning infielders Randy Cesar and Nick Tanielu, outfielders Drew Ferguson, Alejandro Garcia and Miles Straw, left-handed pitcher Framber Valdez, catcher Jamie Ritchie and right-handed pitchers Jacob Dorris and Riley Ferrell to Minor League camp.
The club will also option left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez -- the Astros' No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- to the Minor Leagues on Friday. Dorris and Ferrell both threw in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Marlins at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
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Left-handed pitcher Anthony Gose, a Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Rangers, is currently on waivers. If he clears waivers, he'll be offered back to Texas for $50,000, which is half of what the Astros paid the Rangers for taking him in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
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Wednesday's moves leave the Astros with 49 players remaining in camp three weeks shy of Opening Day. The 25-man roster to begin the season is pretty much set, so none of the remaining camp moves the Astros will make in the next week or so will impact the Opening Day roster.
Cole 'dialed back'
Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole didn't exactly breeze through his third start of the spring in Wednesday's loss, but he worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third and threw 69 pitches in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
"Just continue the process and get a little more familiar with [starting catcher] Brian [McCann]," Cole said. "We had a better game plan going into today and got the pitch count up and made quality pitches."
Cole, who hit 100 mph in his second spring start on Friday, sat in the mid-90s with his fastball for the most part. He worked his fastball-slider combination pretty well and spun a few curveballs.
"He was pretty focused on his slider today, and I just think this is the middle part of spring where guys are dialed back a little bit and trying to fine-tune or work on a few things," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When your dialed-back is mid-90s and not the upper-90s, that's a pretty good fallback option."
Rondon taking it slow
Veteran reliever Hector Rondon, whose only Spring Training appearance came on Feb. 26 when he allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings, insisted Wednesday he's healthy. Rondon said he's been doing work on the side, though he admitted he "felt a bit off" with his balance and his delivery in his only game appearance of the spring.
"I feel like we need to work more outside of the games instead of coming into the game fired up," Rondon said. "We have a process to working, and maybe next week I'll start throwing in the game."
Hinch didn't have a target date of when Rondon might get into a game, and he maintained the reliever is on a slower schedule than his peers.
"Slow and steady, just kind of working his way into camp," Hinch said. "He's a veteran guy. He's on a much slower program than a lot of other guys. What I said earlier in camp is we individualize it, and it's probably to the extreme."
The Astros signed Rondon to a two-year, $8.5 million deal in December to fortify their bullpen. A five-year Major League veteran, Rondon enters 2018 having spent his entire career with the Cubs. He is 18-13 with a 3.22 ERA in 296 1/3 innings. He has 77 career saves and has appeared in at least 45 games in every season of his career.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel (left hand surgery) will be out until mid-April.
"I feel good. I've been working really hard to get to the point where I want to be. I don't know yet if I'm ready, but I'm really, really close to where I want to be, so I feel happy. I've been getting enough workouts and stuff to be prepared for the season." -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning Wednesday