Starters to compete for Opening Day assignment

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Considering the Astros are still seven weeks away from opening the season against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park, the thought of picking an Opening Day starting pitcher isn't on the front of manager Bo Porter's mind.

The two obvious options are right-handers Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell. Norris has tenure on Harrell, but Harrell had a better season last year, going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts en route to being named the team's Pitcher of the Year.

"We don't have one yet," said Porter when asked Monday about a potential Opening Day assignment. "That's another competition that will work itself out. In sports, I'm a firm believer that competition is probably one of the best things. It makes guys rise to the occasion and you want to see who's going to take the bull by the horns and say, 'Look, I'm showing you that I should be the Opening Day starter.' It's an honor to be an Opening Day starter for a Major League Baseball team."

Roy Oswalt started a club-record eight consecutive Opening Days from 2003-10 before Brett Myers (2011) and Wandy Rodriguez (2012) took the honor. The Astros haven't had three different pitchers start in consecutive Opening Days since Scott Elarton (2001), Wade Miller (2002) and Oswalt (2003).

The Astros open the season and their time in the American League against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park in a nationally televised game Sunday, March 31 at 7:05 p.m. CT on ESPN.