Williams pleased with progression this spring

Williams pleased with progression this spring

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right-hander Jerome Williams feels that he has a tendency to be a slow starter, but in his first spring with Houston, things have been different.

"It's progressing real well," said Williams, who signed a one-year deal on Feb. 6 after three seasons with the Angels. "I think this year, maybe because it's a new beginning with the Astros, I feel more comfortable going out there and pitching."

Williams made his third Grapefruit League appearance -- and first start -- on Wednesday afternoon against the Nationals at Osceola County Stadium. He was able to throw all of his pitches -- fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup -- in his longest outing of the spring.

"Just trying to perfect each pitch, and like I always preach, try to keep the ball down in the zone so I can get those guys behind me to make plays," he said.

That didn't always work in his favor. Shortstop Jonathan Villar made two inning-opening errors on ground balls, and in both cases the mistake helped lead to two unearned runs against Williams.

The 32-year-old gave up six hits and four unearned runs over 3 2/3 innings, although he struck out three and walked none. In 8 2/3 innings this spring, he has struck out nine without issuing a walk, although he has hit two batters.

"I felt like Jerome threw the ball well," manager Bo Porter said. "Defensively, we didn't make some plays behind him that would have made his outing a whole lot cleaner. But that's part of the game, and I felt like he did a tremendous job of continuing to make pitches given that we gave them some extra outs."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.