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Crane weighs in on Astros' start, search for spring site

Speaking in Seattle, team owner also hoping for resolution to TV issue

SEATTLE -- Astros owner Jim Crane, whose freight and shipping business has one of its 100 offices in Seattle, was at Safeco Field for Monday's game against the Mariners and spoke on a variety of topics, including the team's ongoing television stalemate with Comcast, the search for a new Spring Training site and the team's 5-14 start.

The Astros entered the series having lost seven in a row and with the same record they had last year when they wound up losing 111 games. Crane said last month he expected the club would be much improved this year.

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"It's very disappointing," Crane said. "We've been in a lot of ballgames and lost some close ones. We haven't got a lot of breaks either, but we're not hitting the ball. And when you're not scoring any runs, it's hard to win games. I think the hitting's a little surprising. We thought it would be a little bit better, but it goes in cycles. Hopefully, they'll pop out of it and start going our way."

Still, Crane was encouraged the team has kept working hard and maintaining a positive attitude.

"Remarkably, everyone seems relaxed and upbeat," he said. "I think [manager] Bo [Porter] has done a good job of keeping everybody on the same page and keeping their head down and keep working."

Meanwhile, Crane said the Astros and the Nationals have zeroed in on two or three sites in Palm Beach County, Fla., they're considering for a two-team facility to be ready in 2017. Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe, who's spearheading the team's efforts to find a new site, has been in Florida recently, Crane said.

"They're working on some deals down there, and they're looking at a couple of new sites," Crane said.

As far the team's efforts to try to get the Astros' games distributed to more cable and satellite carriers, Crane said there could be another mediation session before the case could go back to bankruptcy court. Only about 40 percent of the Houston television market has access to the team's games on Comcast SportsNet Houston, which is in bankruptcy.

"I would like to see something resolved within 30 days and [bankruptcy court] could make that happen," Crane said. "It could linger longer than that, but it's certainly not good for us or not good for the Rockets."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros