HOUSTON -- The signing of veteran catcher Chris Snyder in the offseason gave the Astros some depth at the position and some added offensive punch that was sorely needed. But Snyder's presence in the clubhouse and handling of the pitching staff can't be overlooked.
Making his first start for the Astros on Saturday, Snyder was behind the plate when starting pitcher Lucas Harrell threw seven scoreless innings in a win over the Rockies. Harrell credited Snyder with helping him pitch to his strengths in different situations.
"I shook him off maybe three or four times to get a different pitch," Harrell said. "One time I shook him off and he shook his head back and put down the same sign, and I threw it and got the guy out. I turned and looked at him and gave him a smile. He knows what he's talking about."
Astros manager Brad Mills is still trying to figure out how he's going to split up the playing time between Snyder, a right-handed hitter, and Jason Castro, a left-handed hitter. Both are coming off major surgery and had strong springs, but Mills wasn't ready to commit to Snyder catching Harrell from here on out, despite the good results Saturday.
The Astros are in the midst of facing a steady flow of right-handed starters, which means Castro figures to make most of the starts in the coming days.
"We're just going to have to kind of see how things come as we move forward," Mills said. "There's no doubt that [how well a pitcher works with a catcher] will have consideration, but after just one time? I don't know yet. That might pan out later."