WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The stakes won't be anywhere close to as high as they were last fall, but for the first time since they beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1, the Astros will play a baseball game on Friday.The Astros will
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The stakes won't be anywhere close to as high as they were last fall, but for the first time since they beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1, the Astros will play a baseball game on Friday.
The Astros will send Rogelio Armenteros to the mound for the 12:05 p.m. CT game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches against the Nationals in their Grapefruit League opener.
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As the games get underway, let's take a look a few dark-horse candidates to make the team's 25-man roster, which is all but set barring injuries:
Tyler White: White, who showed some promising signs at the plate in his brief stint in the big leagues last year, can play first and third base, and could wind up grabbing the final spot on the 25-man roster, especially with Yuli Gurriel suspended five games to start the season. His bat could push him over the top.
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Max Stassi: If the Astros carry three catchers, Stassi will make the Opening Day roster. Stassi has appeared in 44 games over parts of the past five years and would allow the Astros to rest starter Brian McCann and allow backup Evan Gattis to be the designated hitter a little bit more. Stassi has made strides at the plate that everyone associated with the club is anxious to see if it can finally help him put it together.
Tony Kemp: He's an infielder by trade, but with the four starters set, and Marwin Gonzalez capable of playing everywhere, Kemp's path to the roster will come down to his ability to play left field. Kemp led all of Triple-A in hits last year, and appeared in 17 games with the Astros. He doesn't have much power, but he gives competitive at-bats, and has been working on his arm strength in the outfield.
A.J. Reed: A left-handed bat, the former top prospect came to camp slimmer and trimmer in an effort to make the club, having spent most of last year at Triple-A. Reed can provide power from the left side and can play DH and first base, where more at-bats could open up with Gurriel moving around the diamond a little bit more. Reed's power potential and ability to split the right-handed DH at-bats with Gattis could push him over the top.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.