HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter believes that if the club can improve its fundamentals, it can exceed expectations heading into 2013. Porter said Wednesday the club needs to improve its defense, baserunning and situational hitting this year, and he plans to be a stickler on fundamentals when the team hits Kissimmee, Fla., in three weeks.
“Those are all things we will make a point this spring and we will expect those things to get better next season,” he said.
Porter said he plans to change the mindset of the club when it take the fields at Osceola County Stadium next month. It has been an offseason full of change, beginning with his hiring in September to playing in a new league and wearing new uniforms. Porter hopes the results on the field change as well.
“When things change, you have to first accept the fact they’ll never been the same,” he said. “As things change throughout the organization, with the uniforms, ballpark structure, ownership group, new manager, everybody comes in with an open mind and realizes things are different and they are different because we’re headed in a different direction.”
Lowrie aims to stay healthy, be a team leader
HOUSTON -- The challenge this year for shortstop Jed Lowrie will be trying to stay healthy for an entire season, something he’s yet to do in his career. He missed 52 games in the middle of last season following a freak injury to his right ankle and leg in San Francisco, but still posted career-best numbers.
Lowrie has been working out, as he does this time each year, in Tampa, Fla., and plans to report to camp on Feb. 15, which is the day before the first full-squad workout. He said Wednesday his conditioning and previous injury rehabs are helping him recover.
“I feel like I come back from injuries strong,” he said. “That is a good sign of how hard I’ve worked to get through those injuries and prepare myself for the following season.”
Lowrie will be counted on to be one the leaders on a young team, a role he’s willing to embrace.
“I definitely look at it that way,” he said. “Getting to know Carlos [Pena] over the last five years of playing against him in Tampa and getting to know him in the offseason, he seems like he’s a strong leader as well. Hopefully we can provide veteran leadership.
“My personal style, I like to lead by example. I have a strong work ethic and that’s something I think more than anything else, guys can learn from that. I know that’s the way I learned in Boston. We had a few vocal leaders on the team, but I learned from watching guys and how they prepared for the game and handled certain situations.”
Cosart out to break spring camp with big club
HOUSTON -- Although right-hander Jarred Cosart appears destined to begin the season in the Minor Leagues based on previous comments from Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Astros' top pitching prospect hopes to crack the Major League roster.
Luhnow has said Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles are locks for the rotation, with Philip Humber having a leg up. Luhnow said Monday veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, signed to a Minor League deal, has a pretty good chance of being in the rotation as well.
A Norris-Harrell-Lyles-Humber-Bedard rotation wouldn’t leave room for Cosart, Dallas Keuchel, John Ely, Alex White, Edgar Gonzalez and others, but Cosart isn’t losing hope. Coming to his first big league camp next month, Cosart is open to any role, as long as he makes the club.
“That’s the only goal I have,” he said. “I talked to [manager] Bo [Porter] about it. I don’t think it’s all on him. A lot of it has to do with the front office. To be in the Major Leagues and contribute at a younger age is everyone’s goal. Whatever they want me to do -- if I could full up water between innings or run down to the bullpen -- I don’t care. Start, relief, close, whatever they need me to do and I think I need to work on, I’m all ears.”
Porter said the Astros' signing of Bedard was huge in that it gave them a veteran left-hander who has experience pitching in the American League.
“It gives us more depth and balance,” he said. “He has been very successful in his career, and it’s a huge upgrade for the Houston Astros.”