Norris to stay on track with simulated game

VIERA, Fla. -- The Astros will have their first of three scheduled off-days in their Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean there won't be some activity at Osceola County Stadium.

Right-hander Bud Norris is scheduled to throw a four-inning simulated game against Minor League hitters in the morning, keeping him on a track of pitching every five days. Norris threw three innings Friday against the Cardinals in his second start of the spring.

"It's my fifth day and I want to stay on track, so I don't mind coming in on the off-day and getting it done in the morning," Norris said. "It's just really getting your am in shape and seeing how it responds. I'm sure I'll get a couple of more spring starts down here to get my game action, but right now, I'll build up a little strength."

If he keeps pitching every fifth day, Norris would be in line to start the season-opener March 31 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. The Astros haven't named their Opening Day starting pitcher yet, but Norris certainly appears to be the leading candidate.

"We want to make sure we keep him sharp and on turn," manager Bo Porter said. "He'll be able to get up to 60, 65 pitches [Wednesday], which will get him ready for his next start. It's too early in spring to skip a day, and we want to keep him on turn."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.