KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros made their first cuts of camp Sunday morning, reassigning right-handers Jake Buchanan, Bobby Doran, Jason Stoffel and Nick Tropeano, infielders Jonathan Meyer and Ronald Torreyes and outfielders Leo Heras and Preston Tucker to Minor League camp. They also optioned right-hander Paul Clemens to Minor League camp.
Most of the players who were sent out didn't have a realistic shot to make the Major League club and were in camp to be around big league players and get familiar with the staff.
That can't be said for Clemens, who went 4-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 35 games (five starts) for the Astros last year and was in the mix for a spot on the pitching staff. He had pitched in only two games this spring, allowing six hits and three runs in three innings, but the Astros want him to get stretched out and work on fastball command.
"Paul has had mixed reviews at the big leagues," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "There's been times when he's been very good and times when he's been inconsistent. We just need him to go get steady innings down in the Minor Leagues, and we're having trouble right now finding innings for everybody. We still see Paul as a starting pitcher. We want to stretch him out, and the best way for us to do that right now is at the Minor League level."
With starting pitchers going longer in games and with so many position players in camp, the Astros were still having trouble spreading around the at-bats, which is why they made the moves. Minor League camp has begun in earnest, and games begin on Friday.
"Like I said to all those guys we talked to today, there comes a point in spring from a starting pitching standpoint and from a pitching standpoint, the innings start to get scarce and these guys are a part of our plans down the road and you want to give them an opportunity to get themselves ready for their season," manager Bo Porter said. "From a position-player standpoint, the position players are going to start to play deeper into games, which is going to minimize the number of at-bats we have to go around, and we need those guys to get regular playing time."
The moves leave the Astros with 56 players in camp.