The Astros returned to .500 Monday with a 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on in Kissimmee, FL. Lefty Brett Oberholtzer allowed five of the runs in just 3-1/3rd innings. Oberholtzer was slowed this spring by a lat muscle injury so it was important for him to be back on the mound and extending his arm before the season begins.
Castro (r): Third HR of spring
(c) Associated Press
George Springer and Jason Castro launched solo homers in the loss. Houston managed just five hits in the contest.
The Astros are also firming up their Opening Day roster. On Sunday, they sent down eight players from the major league camp, including top prospect Carlos Correa and third baseman Matt Dominguez. Some of those cut will remain with the team through the rest of the exhibition season as bench players.
On Monday, the Astros made public that non-roster pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Joe Thatcher had made the pitching staff. Hernandez, 34, has a 3.74 ERA this spring and has shown enough to win the last spot in the starting rotation. He'll be paid $2.65 million for making the roster.
Hernandez' last competitor for the job, Asher Wojciechowski, will likely be sent down to AAA Fresno but he might stay if the Astros think either Oberholtzer or reliever Josh Fields should begin the season on the disabled list.
Thatcher, 33, a lefthanded reliever who signed just before camp began, sported a 1.23 ERA for the spring after getting two outs on Monday. He has posted a 10-13 record with a 3.40 ERA over eight seasons, mostly with the Padres and Diamondbacks.
The Astros will need to make some 40-man roster moves in order to add the two veteran hurlers. Expect that news to come out Tuesday or Wednesday.
The ballclub next takes a short bus ride north on Tuesday to Disney World to battle with the Atlanta Braves. On Wednesday, they will host the Detroit Tigers to end their stay in Florida.
- Bob Hulsey