Astros excited for trip to White House

March 11th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The World Series champion Astros will use Monday's off-day to fly to Washington and be recognized by President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House. The team will depart the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches early in the morning to fly to Washington and will return to West Palm Beach later that evening.

Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife, Whitney, general manager Jeff Luhnow, president of business operations Reid Ryan and most of the team's senior management team will make the trip, along with players and coaches who played with the club last year. 

The White House visit will be streamed live on and at noon ET/11 a.m. CT.

"It's a great honor to be the team that gets to go to one of the most prestigious places in our country," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

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Former Astros player , who retired following last year, has said he won't be attending. At least two former Astros who are on other teams -- Luke Gregerson of the Cardinals and Joe Musgrove of the Pirates -- are going to travel with the Astros to Washington.

"I'm looking forward to it. I've never been to the White House," said Astros pitcher , who got a new suit for the trip. "Hopefully, I'll get a few pictures in there. I'm not sure if they allow phones in, but I'm looking forward to it. If you're going to spend an off-day doing something other than relaxing, I think the White House is a pretty good gig."

The players, coaches and staff who weren't with the team last year will be given the day off and stay in Florida.

"It's basically an all-day trip up and back," Hinch said. "They haven't told us the entire detail other than we're leaving pretty early and end up getting back around dinner time. It's a 10- or 12-hour round trip by the time we fly twice and do our activities there."

Morton, McHugh pitch in sim game

Veteran right-handers Charlie Morton and faced each other in a simulated game Sunday morning on a back field at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Morton was scheduled to throw four innings or 65 pitches, and McHugh three innings or 50 pitches.

The Astros didn't place any defensive players in the simulated game because the field was wet, and it was all about Morton and McHugh getting in their time on the mound anyway. McHugh is going to come back and pitch in a game Thursday on three days of rest to simulate a pair of long-relief outings.

Hinch said he'd like to build McHugh up to the three- or four-inning threshold. McHugh is a starter, but by adding in August and in January, he appears destined for the bullpen.

"We're having him come back short this time as a semi-simulation on a bullpen usage because it's only three days of rest," Hinch said. "He's not going to throw a bullpen between now and [Thursday]. Once he's at three innings and 50 pitches, you can accelerate him if we need him to lengthen out into the 80-, 85-, 90-pitch count, but you have to build him up into that 50 range to do that."

Roster moves

The Astros trimmed their roster Sunday morning, optioning left-handers and to Minor League camp and reassigning right-handers Matt Ramsey and to Minor League camp. The moves leave the Astros with 42 players in camp.

"We're going to start trimming down pretty regularly over the next week or so to get to a smaller camp," Hinch said. "I like the small feel of the clubhouse. Two weeks from today we leave [camp]. On the calendar, it looks like it's really early still to be cutting down so fast, but in reality, we leave two weeks from today for the exhibition games back in Houston. By the time we get to the last week of the spring, we really want to have our team in place, at least the decisions be made."

Injury update

First baseman Yuli Gurriel (left hand surgery) will be out until mid-April.

Up next

After the off-day, the Astros return to Grapefruit League action Tuesday in Port St. Lucie against the Mets with Gerrit Cole taking the ball at 12:10 p.m. CT.