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Astros gradually giving pitchers first game action

@brianmctaggart
March 1, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Grapefruit League games have been happening for a week, and the Astros still have several pitchers who have yet to see game action, not including Josh James, who is dealing with a strained right quad. Bullpen stalwarts Ryan Pressly, Will Harris and Hector Rondon are

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Grapefruit League games have been happening for a week, and the Astros still have several pitchers who have yet to see game action, not including Josh James, who is dealing with a strained right quad.

Bullpen stalwarts Ryan Pressly, Will Harris and Hector Rondon are each scheduled to make their spring debuts in the coming days. The Astros have several of their pitchers on what they’re calling individualized programs, which help monitor their workload.

Pressly and Rondon are scheduled to pitch Saturday, manager AJ Hinch said, with Harris set to get on the mound early next week.

“You’re starting to see guys get scheduled out a little bit. We still have a couple of the younger guys who are slowly getting ready to pitch,” Hinch said.

Right-hander Dean Deetz is a couple of weeks away from getting into games after showing up at camp with a sore right shoulder. Lefty Cionel Pérez’s throwing program is starting to increase; he threw a bullpen Friday, which was his last scheduled bullpen before live sessions.

The Astros are expected to carry seven relievers to start the season because they’ll have an extra position player. Roberto Osuna, Pressly, Harris, Chris Devenski and Rondon are locks, leaving two spots. One of those, presumably, will go to either Brad Peacock or Framber Valdez, who are battling for the fifth spot. James is also expected to win a spot if he’s healthy.

“It’s all up for debate how the fifth starter spot plays out,” Hinch said. “Both Peacock and Valdez have thrown the ball well. … That impacts that decision. It really depends on health and performance at the end. I don’t think that decision will get made until close to the end based on the health of those guys I mentioned and the performance of a couple.”

Worth noting

Hinch said right-hander Rogelio Armenteros will be pushed back a day and pitch on Monday. The team is monitoring the health of right-hander Collin McHugh, who had a sore back Wednesday during his first outing of the spring. McHugh is still scheduled to start Monday, and Armenteros could follow him.

Up next

All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman, who had surgery in January to remove bone chips from his elbow, will make his Grapefruit League debut Saturday when the Astros face the Mets at 12:10 p.m. CT in Port St. Lucie. All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, who had knee surgery after the season, will start at second base for the Astros for the first time this spring, after two games at DH. Justin Verlander will make his second start of the spring, opposite Noah Syndergaard for the Mets.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.