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Astros have veterans to complement youth

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- For all the talk about how young the Astros are going to be this year, two of their starters -- right fielder Rick Ankiel, designated hitter/first baseman Carlos Pena -- are 30 years old or older, as is Ronny Cedeno, who'll platoon at shortstop, as well as starting pitcher Erik Bedard and closer Jose Veras.

Manager Bo Porter said it's important to have veteran players in a young clubhouse to provide leadership despite the team's commitment to youth.

"When you have players that haven't played for long periods of time in the Major Leagues, when you can surround them with players that can be mentors, it's good," he said. "A lot of times, from a staff standpoint, there are things that never make it to you because you have better guys who have been through the trenches and they're able to share information with the guys, whether it's sitting on the bench or sitting in the clubhouse or sitting on the airplane or the taxi to the ballpark together."

Porter was a coach with the Nationals the last two years and worked with Ankiel, and he became well-versed about Cedeno's game in preparation for interviewing for a job with the Pirates a few years ago.

"A lot of the veterans that are here, if you look around, I have some kind of history with them," he said. "They're here for a reason. Again, you want to not only have veteran guys, you want to have the right veteran guys."

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.

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