Notes: JV, Lance to face off; Baker on RF battle

July 9th, 2020

HOUSTON -- How’s this for a pitching matchup? Justin Verlander vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

That’s how the Astros will line up their starters for their first intrasquad game of Summer Camp at 1:45 p.m. CT Thursday at Minute Maid Park -- with a veteran team, led by McCullers, facing off against some of the younger players in camp, led by Verlander, who threw a bullpen session Tuesday and could pitch two or three innings.

“I was impressed with his bullpen [Tuesday],” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Not only impressed by his work, but I was impressed with the fact that [pitching prospects] Cristian Javier and [Bryan] Abreu came down to watch and learn. That is what you want younger players to do, to learn from watching and emulating the guy. You can learn a whole bunch by watching Verlander’s bullpens.”

Verlander revealed the lineups Wednesday on his Instagram account:

RF is Reddick’s to lose
Baker has yet to name the starter in right field, but it should be no surprise he’s giving the leg up to veteran Josh Reddick over up-and-comer Kyle Tucker. Baker insinuated Tucker is going to have to win the job from Reddick, who’s in the fourth year of his four-year contract with Houston.

“The future is probably Tucker’s, but the now is probably Reddick’s,” Baker said.

Tucker, after a poor showing his Major League debut in 2018, made the most of his 22-game stint in the big leagues last September, hitting .269 and with four homers and 11 RBIs and earning his way on to a postseason roster. Reddick hit .275 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs last year and continues to play a Gold Glove-caliber defense at 32 years old.

“I don’t like to compare younger players with older players in Spring Training because the younger player wins every time because it takes him no time to get ready, but it’s harder for them to keep it,” Baker explained. “The older players, it takes them longer to get ready but they usually keep it longer. You just can’t take a guy’s job away unless he loses it over time.”

Bregman misses workout
All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman chose to sit out Wednesday’s workout at Minute Maid Park while he awaited delayed results from a COVID-19 test.

The Astros have had multiple individuals test positive for COVID-19 during intake testing prior to camp but haven’t released any names.