Keuchel on track to see spring game action soon

Keuchel on track to see spring game action soon

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- If he keeps progressing, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel could be in line to appear in his first Grapefruit League game in the next 10 days or so. Keuchel, who's on an individualized throwing program this spring, threw his second live batting practice of the spring on Wednesday and came through fine.

Keuchel threw his full arsenal to hitters Jake Marisnick, Garrett Stubbs, Alejandro Garcia and Ramon Laureano on a back field at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He's focusing on fastball command at this point and said his cutter and slider are still taking "baby steps."

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beltran's HR highlights first game at new park

Beltran's HR highlights first game at new park

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Construction crews have been working vigorously for the past 15 months and virtually around the clock for the past few weeks to prepare for Tuesday, the opening of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In the first game between the Nationals and Astros in their new Spring Training home, Washington outfielder Michael Taylor ended the game with a two-out, walk-off home run in the ninth inning to lead the Nats to a 4-3 victory.

It was part of a spectacular inning for Taylor, who in the top half of the ninth threw out the potential go-ahead run from center field to keep the game tied.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

New Nats, Astros park opens to much fanfare

Commissioner praises state-of-the-art facility

New Nats, Astros park opens to much fanfare

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals and Astros fans were given their first glimpse of baseball's newest Spring Training facility on Tuesday, when the two clubs played their first game on the field of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

As is the case with the opening of every brand-new ballpark, Tuesday's game was preceded by a festive pregame ceremony that officially ushered in the new era of spring baseball on the east coast of Florida. In attendance at the ceremony were Commissioner Rob Manfred, Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane and Nationals principal owners Ted and Annette Lerner.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beltran reminds Astros he still has power

Veteran outfielder slugs first homer since reuniting with club

Beltran reminds Astros he still has power

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It was like Carlos Beltran never left the Astros.

Beltran, appearing in an Astros uniform for the first time since he homered in five consecutive games in the 2004 playoffs, homered to left field in his second at-bat in his Grapefruit League debut in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Nationals.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harris leaves with groin discomfort

Harris leaves with groin discomfort

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- All-Star relief pitcher Will Harris left Tuesday's game against the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with what he described as groin discomfort. Harris said he's experienced a similar issue in the past and said coming out of the game was a precaution.

Harris, appearing in his first Grapefruit League game of the year, threw 10 pitches in relief in the sixth inning in retiring Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon before motioning for manager A.J. Hinch to come to the mound. Hinch didn't hesitate pulling him from the game.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCullers could make spring debut next week

McCullers could make spring debut next week

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. could make his Grapefruit League debut next week, manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday. McCullers threw his second round of live batting practice on a back field at the Ballpark at the Palm Beaches on Monday, and Hinch said he was impressive.

McCullers, who missed the final two months of last season with right elbow discomfort, is on an individualized throwing program and could appear in a game for the first time this spring following Houston's next scheduled off day March 7.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Altuve contributes to cause in spring debut

Altuve contributes to cause in spring debut

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets infielder Wilmer Flores outshined countryman Jose Altuve on Monday, hitting a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, but the Astros came from behind to score a 5-2 win over the Mets at First Data Field.

Facing Astros right-hander Michael Feliz, Flores temporarily reclaimed the lead for a Mets team that had lost it on Altuve's RBI single in the third. The reigning American League batting champion and starting second baseman for Venezuela in next month's World Baseball Classic, Altuve finished 1-for-2 with a walk in his spring debut.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Musgrove set to prove he belongs in rotation

Righty allows 1 run in 2-inning spring debut as he fights for staff spot

Musgrove set to prove he belongs in rotation

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch conceded earlier this spring that the team's best pitching staff likely includes right-hander Joe Musgrove as a part of it. However, that doesn't mean that Musgrove isn't going to have to prove himself to Hinch during the course of spring.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who went 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 11 starts (10 games) in his debut last summer, spent the offseason working out with fellow pitchers James Hoyt and Chris Devenski in San Diego to put himself in the best position to compete. He allowed three hits and a run -- on a leadoff homer to Asdrubal Cabrera -- in two innings in his Grapefruit League debut Monday, a 5-2 Astros win, knows there's plenty of more work to come in the next month.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McHugh still sore, not throwing off mound

Righty dealing with 'dead arm', confident he will be ready for season

McHugh still sore, not throwing off mound

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- While every Astros pitcher has thrown at least one round of live batting practice, right-hander Collin McHugh has yet to throw off the mound this spring because of what manager A.J. Hinch described Monday as general soreness.

McHugh was already on an individualized throwing program entering camp, but Hinch said he came to camp not feeling 100 percent in his throwing program. McHugh played catch Monday morning at 150 feet, but won't throw his first bullpen until next week, he said.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brignac attempting to become switch-hitter

Journeyman infielder trying out batting right-handed against lefties

Brignac attempting to become switch-hitter

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In an effort to help him stay on the field longer, Astros infielder Reid Brignac has started taking up switch-hitting. Brignac, who's hit left-handed his entire career, has been batting right-handed against left-handed pitchers early in spring.

Brignac, a non-roster invitee to camp who spent last year in the Braves' system, has appeared in 369 big league games with the Rays, Rockies, Yankees, Phillies, Marlins and Braves, where he spent last year mostly at Triple-A Gwinnett. 

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gattis, Stassi ignite Astros in win over Braves

Gattis, Stassi ignite Astros in win over Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman recorded two hits and his former Atlanta teammate Evan Gattis enjoyed his return to ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Sunday, as the Astros used Max Stassi's two-run homer in the eighth inning to claim a 3-2 win over the Braves.

Stassi's two-run shot off Jose Ramirez proved decisive for the Astros as they claimed their first win of the Grapefruit League season. Ramirez notched a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning, but he retired just two of five batters faced in the eighth.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch admires Aoki's 'meticulous nature'

Outfielder impressing at camp, looking ahead to WBC

Hinch admires Aoki's 'meticulous nature'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch wasn't quite able to let outfielder Norichika Aoki play a full nine innings -- pulling him from Sunday's game against the Braves after he was grazed on the shoulder by a pitch -- but the veteran squeezed in enough work to make him feel comfortable as he leaves camp for the World Baseball Classic.

Aoki -- who went 1-for-2 in the Astros' 3-2 win over the Braves on Sunday, and 3-for-5 in the Astros' first two Grapefruit League games -- will depart for Japan on Monday. He'll fly from Orlando to Chicago, then take a 13-hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo, where he'll spend time with family before beginning workouts.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inspired by teammates, Rodgers 'taking notes'

Inspired by teammates, Rodgers 'taking notes'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel made his Major League debut in 2012 at 24 years old, a fledgling lefty who had twice as many wins as losses and a 5.20 ERA after two years in the big leagues. Two years later, he won the American League Cy Young Award.

If nothing else, that should serve as inspiration for the power of persistence for pitcher Brady Rodgers, a 26-year-old right-hander who was roughed up in his big league debut this past year. That debut came after Rodgers dominated at Triple-A Fresno, being named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year after going 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA with 12 walks and 116 strikeouts in 132 innings.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa 'felt comfortable' in spring debut

Shortstop went 1-for-3 as he prepares to play in World Baseball Classic

Correa 'felt comfortable' in spring debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After missing the first few days of camp because he had all four wisdom teeth removed, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa made his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Braves at ESPN Wild World of Sports, going 1-for-3 with a walk in the Astros' 3-2 win.

"It was good," Correa said. "I felt comfortable, especially on the defensive side of it. I felt really comfortable reading balls off the bat and stuff like that. Offensively, I felt good. I saw the pitches really well. I have to clean up the strike zone a little bit, but other than that, I feel good."

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Moran showing early signs of progress

Infielder using improved swing in attempt to secure roster spot

Moran showing early signs of progress

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Colin Moran spends his offseason in southern Florida, living just a few miles away from Astros hitting coordinator Jeff Albert in Palm Beach Gardens. The Astros' prospect took advantage of that proximity to refine his swing this winter after a bumpy Major League debut last year.

Moran, ranked as the Astros' No. 7 prospect by MLBPipeline.com went 0-for-2 during Saturday's 11-4 loss to the Tigers.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peacock sharp in Astros' first spring contest

Peacock sharp in Astros' first spring contest

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Andrew Romine, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez powered the Tigers' offense out of an early slump with back-to-back-to-back home runs in a four-run third inning, sending Detroit to an 11-4 win over the Astros on Saturday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Justin Verlander tossed two scoreless innings in his first outing of the spring, but left a scoreless game thanks to two similarly pitched innings from Houston starter Brad Peacock in the Astros' Grapefruit League opener.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Astros mourn beloved friend, colleague Hildreth

Houston's longest-tenured employee dies unexpectedly at age 72

Astros mourn beloved friend, colleague Hildreth

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With a booming, raspy voice, infectious laugh and enough stories to fill a dozen memoirs, Jamie Hildreth was one of the most beloved figures within the Houston Astros' organization.

Hildreth's unexpected passing while in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday at the age of 72 leaves the Astros with a void that will be difficult to fill. As their longest tenured employee, one who had indelible relationships with the club's top partners and who made business meetings feel more like gatherings among lifelong friends, replacing Hildreth seems nearly impossible.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frias ejected after hitting Miggy

Frias ejected after hitting Miggy

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Astros' first game of the Grapefruit League season wasn't without some drama.

Right-handed pitcher Edison Frias, a non-roster invitee to camp, was ejected from the spring opener Saturday against the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium after he struck former American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera with a pitch following his third consecutive homer allowed.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top prospect Martes 'electric' in first live BP

Reddick, Springer impressed with young Astros righty's movement, stuff

Top prospect Martes 'electric' in first live BP

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch watching from the field, top Astros prospect Francis Martes cranked up the heat for his first live batting practice session of the spring Friday morning at the team's complex at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Martes, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound right-hander who's been compared to Johnny Cueto, drew good reviews from hitters Josh Reddick and George Springer, both of whom were facing the hard-throwing Martes for the first time. Norichika Aoki also faced him and slapped a pair of balls into the outfield.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCullers' first live BP session goes smoothly

Astros righty feeling good after missing last month of '16 with elbow discomfort

McCullers' first live BP session goes smoothly

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. faced hitters for the first time this spring when he threw live batting practice on a back field Friday morning at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

McCullers, who missed the final month of last season with elbow discomfort, is on an individualized throwing program because he's coming off an injury and Spring Training is longer this year with the World Baseball Classic. He said it was the first time he had faced a hitter since early October while rehabbing in Kissimmee, Fla.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch tweaking spring approach due to '17 Classic

Hinch tweaking spring approach due to '17 Classic

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The upcoming World Baseball Classic is an exciting time for those participating, but it can also be somewhat of a challenge for managers trying to prepare their teams for the 2017 season.

Eight players from Astros camp will cut into their Spring Training for the opportunity to represent their respective countries in the event.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Breaking down the Astros' Top 30 list

Strong farm system once again prepared to help Major League club

Breaking down the Astros' Top 30 list

In the past two years, the Astros have brought Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. -- all of whom could have MVP or Cy Young awards in their future -- to the big leagues. They've also promoted potential starters Joe Musgrove and A.J. Reed, as well as a slew of complementary players such as Chris Devenski, Michael Feliz, Preston Tucker and Tyler White. That infusion of talent helped Houston go from finishing with baseball's worst record for three years running from 2011-13 to capturing an American League Wild Card berth in 2015 and coming within five games of doing so again last year.

The Astros are hoping to return to the playoffs and make a deeper run than they did two years ago, and once again their farm system should be able to help. Right-handers Francis Martes and David Paulino could inject some power into a rotation that, outside of McCullers, is mostly about finesse. Derek Fisher or Teoscar Hernandez could wind up shoring up left field, the weakest spot in the lineup, and Jandel Gustave and James Hoyt are ready to contribute in the bullpen.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Astros, Nats share new park, same expectations

Astros, Nats share new park, same expectations

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They have everything. But do they have enough?

The question pervades the state-of-the-art scene where the Astros and Nationals -- two win-now teams with new facilities but one obvious source of roster uncertainty apiece -- get ready for 2017.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan's phone honors Keuchel, who returns favor

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Fan's phone honors Keuchel, who returns favor

Spring Training is finally here, and the games that count are just around the corner. Starting rotations are beginning to take shape. Mike Trout is running around with weights on his back.

As a fan, it's also time to prepare. Dust off your lucky hat. Make sure your shirsey collection has been properly updated. And make sure to follow the lead of one intrepid Astros fan, who brought his love for Dallas Keuchel all the way to his iPhone.

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Peacock enjoying comforts of home this spring

Peacock enjoying comforts of home this spring

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Right-hander Brad Peacock is relaxed and ready to make a push to become the Astros' fifth starter.

Born and raised in Wellington, Fla., just a few miles west of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Peacock is enjoying the proximity to the Astros' new Spring Training location.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hinch shares pitching plan for first 5 games

Peacock, Rodgers, Musgrove, Fiers and Devenski slated to start

Hinch shares pitching plan for first 5 games

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch on Wednesday laid out his starting pitchers for the team's first five Grapefruit League games.

Brad Peacock will start Saturday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Brady Rodgers on Sunday against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Joe Musgrove on Monday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Mike Fiers on Tuesday against the Nationals in the first game at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Chris Devenski on Wednesday against the Nationals in the team's official spring home opener.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Crane hosting dinner for Astros players, staff

Crane hosting dinner for Astros players, staff

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros players and staff were invited by owner Jim Crane to take part in a dinner Wednesday night at his Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, Fla., which sits about 30 minutes north of the team's new Spring Training complex.

Crane led the charge for the Astros to move from Kissimmee to West Palm Beach, where they share Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the Nationals. In the past, Crane has addressed the team prior to the first full day of workouts, but he saved his pep talk for the dinner this year.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Astros offer range of opinions on free passes

Astros offer range of opinions on free passes

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- While Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he will reserve comment on the reported changes to how an intentional walk is implemented until he meets with senior vice president of baseball operations Peter Woodfork on Friday, his players had mixed opinions.

Sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Tuesday evening that rather than have a pitcher lob four pitches to the catcher to intentionally walk a hitter, managers will signal from the dugout to have the hitter just take first base.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

AL-inclusive: Everyone has eyes on West title

PHOENIX -- Jerry Dipoto knows that the Astros are favored to win the American League West, and if baseball analysts aren't talking about Jose Altuve's budding powerhouse, they're focused on the Rangers. Why not? They've won the AL West two years in a row.

Dipoto hides his confidence with a sheepish grin.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oswalt preaches durability to Astros pitchers

Former righty stressing preparation to reach 200-inning mark

Oswalt preaches durability to Astros pitchers

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Roy Oswalt, whose 143 wins in 10 years with the Astros are second in club history to only Larry Dierker (144), was back in an Astros uniform on Tuesday for the first time since the club traded him to the Phillies halfway through the 2010 season -- a move which essentially began the franchise's rebuild.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch invited Oswalt to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches as a guest instructor.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.