Abundance of talent, sunshine at first Astros workout

February 19th, 2016
Catcher Jason Castro puts on the pads for the first time this spring. (Brian McTaggart/MLB.com)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros pitchers and catchers bounded out of the clubhouse, full of smiles, hopes and expectations. The bright Florida sun meant sunglasses were a must on what was an ideal Friday morning to play a little pitch and catch.
There were new faces, like Doug Fister and Ken Giles, familiar faces like Dallas Keuchel and Scott Feldman, and even an old face like Wandy Rodriguez, who's back with Houston after being traded away nearly four years ago. The Astros opened Spring Training at Osceola County Stadium with their first workout Friday morning.

"It means baseball is here," second-year manager A.J. Hinch said. "We get a great sunny day on the first day. We're going to have some [bullpen sessions], we'll have some position players that reported early that will get some work in, the catchers will do their thing. There's only one first day, and when it comes to the excitement or the buzz of the season still being 40-plus days away, the enthusiasm is pretty cool."

All 30 pitchers and five catchers scheduled to be in camp reported on time and were on the field Friday. Two groups of pitchers, including Feldman and Fister, threw for the first time in the bullpen this spring. Pitchers also went through pitchers' fielding practice, where they took take turns covering first base and throwing to the bases.

Some position players -- including Carlos Gomez, Carlos Correa and George Springer -- are already in camp, a few days ahead of the scheduled first full-squad workout, and they worked out on their own.
"No doubt my favorite day of the year is when pitchers and catchers report and you see those first bullpens and this great talent here," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We've got more talent in that clubhouse this year than we've had since I've been here. It portends good things for the future."
The start of the Astros' final spring camp in Kissimmee seemed to come quickly after the team made the postseason for the first time in a decade and took the Royals to five games in the American League Division Series.

"It was definitely a short offseason compared to last year," Keuchel said. "I guess that's always a good thing. It's nice to get back here and get going. You get a few months to yourself and you don't really know what to do, and I'm glad to have baseball back."
With so little turnover on the roster and only one change on the Major League staff, there wasn't much need for lengthy introductions prior to the first workout. The players reported and got down to business.
"I think the way teams look at us is a little bit different, but I don't care about anything external right now," Hinch said. "I think we're going to focus on our clubhouse and how we built the culture we need."