HOUSTON -- Right-hander Kyle Weiland arrived at Spring Training with the Astros with nothing guaranteed and everything to prove. Weiland found out Monday that not only had he made the big league club, but that he would be part of the starting rotation. "I just got on the phone with my wife first, then called my parents [in Albuquerque]," Weiland said. His wife, Rachel, was driving from Florida back to Houston, and then on to Austin where they live in the offseason. His parents were even more excited by the news.
"They kept hearing rumors," Weiland said. "My local paper said I had made the team before it was even official. They were getting phone calls. They called me and I said, 'I can't tell you that. I don't know yet.' They were relieved and obviously excited. My Dad said they were going to try to make it down for my first start." Weiland appeared in seven games last year with the Red Sox with less-than-spectacular results, an 0-3 record and 7.66 ERA. He saw Houston as a new opportunity. "You have to have confidence in this game no matter what your situation is," he said. "I knew there was a chance I could break [camp] with the team. I knew there was good talent I was going against to win a spot. The biggest thing for me was not to try to do too much." Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ were sure bets to be in the rotation. Young Jordan Lyles, who started the second half last year, was a good prospect. Veterans Livan Hernandez and Zach Duke were brought in to compete for the jobs. But Weiland, who went 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA this spring, won the starter's spot along with another newcomer, Lucas Harrell. He quickly caught manager Brad Mills' attention. "The guy who sticks out is Kyle Weiland," Mills said when asked about his newcomers. "The way he has been throwing the ball all spring. He keeps the ball down, the command of his fastball, his sinker. You kind of smile. He does so many things to help himself pitch well and help the ball club win the game. He holds runners well, he fields his position well. He locates his pitches extremely well. You put those things together and we're going to have an opportunity to win games with him on the hill." Weiland learned what it took along the way. "I put too much pressure on myself in spring 2010," he said. "Last year, I was able to control it. I started to hone in on what I could control and staying within myself. I realized what I have in my repertoire is enough. That really helped me last year. Coming into this year I really settled in."