The World Champion Houston Astros will begin their first title defense on February 23rd with a spring exhibition against their bunk buddies at West Palm Beach (FL), the Washington Nationals. A total of 34 spring contests are scheduled, most of them starting just after noon, Central Time. The final two will be at Minute Maid Park against the Milwaukee Brewers before the season begins for real on March 29th in Arlington. Best to get those Broilpark games out of the way closer to Spring Break than July Fourth.
Won't be long for pitchers, catchers
(c) Washington Post
The Champs will get one game against the Yankees (March 16) in Grapefruit League action and two games against the Red Sox (March 1, March 24).
The Astros have also been invited to the White House for the traditional photo op bringing together the World Champions and the President of the United States. As fate would allow, the Astros don't play in Baltimore until the end of the season so the likeliest dates to watch this are March 12th or March 20th when the Astros have off days during camp. An agreeable date is still under negotiations.
The event is always a huge treat for players and fans. Hopefully none of the players say or tweet something stupid to get disinvited the way the NBA Golden State Warriors did. Remember: Rep the team, rep the city. It's just one afternoon.
The Astros will open training camp on Valentine's Day (Feb 14) with pitchers and catchers reporting. The first full workout will take place February 19th.
Travelers to spring camp should expect to elbow more fans this year for autographs now that the entire country has seen what has been a Houston secret for too long. It would not surprise me if prices climb a bit too with everyone from vendors to hotel managers looking to cash in on the influx of Astro fans.
It's all part of the swag of being king so wear your team logos proudly and enjoy what has taken a long time to arrive.
- Bob Hulsey