PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If Alex White's goal was to come out and throw strikes, he certainly accomplished that Saturday afternoon against the Mets at Tradition Field. White, vying for one of the final spots in the Astros' rotation, worked 2 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and four runs in his second start and third appearance of the spring. He threw 41 of his 55 pitches for strikes.
"I threw a lot of strikes and made some really good pitches, and gave up some hits that were not hit real well. It's going to happen," White said. "I threw a lot of strikes and that's a big key for me. I walked one guy and he ended up scoring. Those are things I can't do. I feel good about the outing. Obviously, the numbers aren't what I wanted them to be, but it's a little early and we'll keep working."
Astros manager Bo Porter said the high-strike ratio was a good sign.
"Like I told those guys, we really put an emphasis on pounding the strike zone, pounding the strike zone and giving the defense a chance. Alex did a great job. His sinker had a lot of movement today and we were pleased with his outing."
White issued a two-out walk in the first to Ike Davis, who then stole second and scored on a single by Lucas Duda right into the teeth of an Astros shift on the right side of the infield. White retired the next five batters in a row before giving up four hits and three runs in the third, including back-to-back RBI doubles by Duda and John Buck.
With three weeks to go in spring, White would like better results, but he's happy his slider is improving.
"I think you'll see more breaking balls the better it gets," he said. "Last year and especially the year before that, I didn't have a really good breaking ball, but now that it's becoming a pretty good pitch, you're going to see more of it."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com 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.