Greinke returns to mound at Astros' camp

Stubbs looking to secure roster spot ahead of 2020 opener

July 10th, 2020

HOUSTON -- For the first time since carrying a shutout into the seventh inning of Game 7 of the 2019 World Series -- a game the Astros eventually lost to the Nationals -- veteran right-hander was back on the Minute Maid Park mound Friday afternoon to throw batting practice.

Greinke threw one inning during a Summer Camp workout, facing a group of hitters that included George Springer, and he was coy about how it went in his eyes.

“It was OK,” Greinke said. “Some good, some bad. I guess not much bad.”

Greinke, who lives in Florida, said he spent the time away from the team “throwing against the wall just about every day for the past three months” in anticipation of being ready for the start of the season. Veteran catcher Martín Maldonado said Greinke looked sharp.

“His velo was what it was in-season,” Maldonado said. “It was really good to see him out there.”

Last season, Greinke went 18-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 33 starts with Houston and Arizona, going 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts after being traded to the Astros in July. He had a 2-0 lead entering the seventh inning of Game 7 of the World Series, but he was pulled after giving up a pair of runs and took a no-decision.

Stubbs aiming for roster spot
When the regular season begins and the Astros make their first road trip of 2020, is almost a sure bet to be traveling with the big league club. Whether he’s on the 30-man roster teams are allowed to carry the first two weeks or the three-man traveling taxi squad remains to be seen.

Stubbs, who made his Major League debut last year at catcher and played some left field, is a strong candidate to make Houston's roster. He’s a left-handed-hitting catcher who can also play the outfield, and he is trying to learn second base in an effort to increase his versatility.

“Now moving to 30 guys, it gives me more of a shot at making an impact on the team and making the roster,” Stubbs said.

Considering clubs will have to carry at least one catcher on their three-man taxi squad, Stubbs can’t help but wonder if that’s where he’ll be pegged to start the year, though. Taxi squad players will not receive MLB service time, although they can work out with the team.

“But I hope to make a point that I can be a good pinch-runner late in games, especially with the extra-inning rule this year,” said Stubbs, referring to the rule that will place an automatic runner at second base at the start of extras.

Stubbs posted a sprint speed of 28 feet per second in 2019, third highest among Major League catchers.

That being said, Stubbs knows his offense will be his calling card. After hitting .240 in 63 games at Triple-A Round Rock last year, Stubbs went 7-for-35 in 19 games for Houston.

“My bat wasn’t as lively last year as I would have liked it to be,” Stubbs said. “Still putting up good at-bats, but offense is the biggest thing for me. Just trying to get the bat going a little bit. Working with our pitching staff is always most important. No. 1 is knowing when pitchers are comfortable and knowing what they want to do.”

Stubbs spent the shutdown working out in the backyard of Triple-A hitting coach Ben Rosenthal, who, along with Stubbs, lives in San Diego and has a hitting cage. Stubbs also played catch on the beach with his brother, Astros catching prospect C.J. Stubbs.

“It wasn’t too bad for us,” Stubbs said.