02/17/2013 6:27 PM ET
Few swings for Astros on first day of live BP
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- On the first day of live batting practice, hitters typically don't take many hacks against the pitchers, and that was especially true for the Astros on Sunday with chilly temperatures invading Osceola County Stadium.
While the pitchers get a chance to work on their stuff for the first time with a hitter in the batter's box, the hitters use live batting practice as a chance to get adjusted to watching pitches travel into the catcher's mitt. There were a few occasional swings.
"I took a swing and squared up a line drive up the middle," Carlos Pena said. "At this stage, you want to make sure you're ready to hit, and you try to track the pitches and follow them into the glove. But you want to make sure you're in good position to hit, and then if that's what you want, go ahead and take a swing."
Astros manager Bo Porter said the first day of live batting practice was more for the pitchers than anything else.
"It's was good for the pitchers to get out of the bullpen and get a hitter in the batter's box and get closer and closer to starting games here," Porter said. "If you're seeing the ball live and seeing ball come out of the pitcher's hand -- the weather was why some guys decided to track -- but at the same time I think it was overall good."
There will be three more days of live batting practice before the Astros play an intrasquad game on Thursday.
Porter meets with top prospect Singleton
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Jonathan Singleton, the Astros' top prospect who's suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season after violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse, spent a few moments Sunday morning having a closed-door meeting with manager Bo Porter.
Singleton would have had a chance to come to Major League camp and compete for a job on the Opening Day roster, but he'll instead start in Minor League camp.
"We had a little sit down, just going over his schedule," Porter said. "He's very important to our organization. He's not in camp because of that situation, his 50-game suspension, but I want to make sure he understands what's going on around here and feels a sense of commitment from the organization and also understands his commitment of doing everything he needs to do."
Singleton will miss the first seven weeks or so of the season because of his second positive drug test, which means he'll lose about 200 at-bats that are crucial in his development. He hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs last year in 131 games at Double-A Corpus Christi.
"His frame of mind was great," Porter said. "A lot of times we get humbled in life, and a lot of times it ends up changing a negative into a positive. We're going to do everything we can to have him ready to go when the 50-game suspension is over."
Porter draws inspiration from music
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager Bo Porter welcomed a couple of reporters into his office following Sunday's workout and invited them to listen to his favorite song, "Hold Me Now," by gospel artist Kirk Franklin. Porter sang along at times and pointed out some of the most inspirational lines.
"The plan is perfect, even when I'm not," Porter repeated.
Porter tries to draw as much inspiration as he can from just about anything, including music, and he knows the players are no different. Porter, who spent the previous two years in Washington, then plugged in his cell phone and played parts of the Nationals' pregame song, Lil' Jon's "Get Outta Your Mind," and their postgame victory song, Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness."
Porter said there's no way all the players in a clubhouse will like the same kind of music, but having a common song to rally around forces the team to come together.
"It creates a culture where guys have to step out of their comfort zone and adapt," he said.
• Catcher Max Stassi, acquired two weeks ago from Oakland in the Jed Lowrie trade, was able to catch bullpen sessions Sunday without any medical restrictions. He had been out for a few days with a strained oblique muscle.
• Right-handed pitcher Hector Ambriz, who sprained his left ankle when he stepped awkwardly on first base Thursday, remains day to day. The swelling has been reduced and he's been doing range-of-motion exercises.
• Representatives from the Major League Baseball Players Association will make their annual visit to Kissimmee on Friday. The meeting is earlier in the year than normal, and manager Bo Porter said it was designed that way. He wants his young players to learn as much about the Collective Bargaining Agreement as soon as they can.
• Porter said right-hander Lucas Harrell will start the Astros' Grapefruit League opener on Saturday against the Phillies in Clearwater. Right-hander Bud Norris will start the home opener on Sunday against the Mets. The starters will likely pitch two innings, depending on pitch count.