The Astros are shaking off a few bumps and bruises down in Kissimmee. The most notable injury belongs to Héctor Giménez, who will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn right labrum. He'll probably miss the whole year, but Giménez, 24, should be OK in the long run. He hit very well in Venezuela this winter, but was facing an uphill battle to claim the backup catcher spot over Humberto Quintero. The silver lining is that the Astros can keep Giménez in the organization by placing him on the 60-day DL. Giménez was out of options, and would have faced the waiver wire if he didn't make the ballclub.
Brad Ausmus' throwing shoulder also is hurting, and he received a cortisone shot early this week. He says he should be fine, but he also claimed he couldn't lift his arm over his head during the winter. Maybe he's been hanging out with Jeff Bagwell to much ...
Troy Patton tripped over a sprinkler head and twisted his left ankle. Nice going, Patty. He should be OK, but I hate for him to miss any time showing off his stuff to Rocket and Nolan and all the Astros brass.
Richard Justice had a good column about Jason Lane in today's Chronicle. Lane appears to be a nice guy, well-liked among Astros players and staff, but the odds are not in his favor this spring. I suppose there's still unrealized potential there, but for the most part, I get the feeling that he's had basically a year and a half to prove he's an adequate corner outfielder, and he hasn't really done so. His career line is .252/.324/.475, and I believe he is capable of putting up a .270/.360/.525 line. But he's equally capable of putting up another .220/.320/.400 year.
Is there any way we can keep Hidalgo and Lane? So what if they're not ideal pinch-hitters? They're both SO much better than Palmeiro. How about a bench of Lamb, Quintero, Loretta, Bruntlett, Lane and Hidalgo? Not bad at all.
What's the deal with NL Central center fielders? Bill Hall, Alfonso Soriano and Chris Burke are all being handed starting CF jobs this year. No question Hall and Soriano are going to outslug Burke, but who'll be the best defender out there? I'm going to say they'll all be in the bottom half of the league in defense, but I bet Burke can play the best of the trio.