Astros to open season without set closer

Astros to open season without set closer

JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros manager Bo Porter said the team will enter the season using a closer by committee, though he'd like to eventually settle on one player to use in that role.

He said earlier this month that Anthony Bass, Josh Fields, Matt Albers, Chad Qualls and lefty Kevin Chapman were candidates to close, so perhaps one of those could get some save chances to start the season. Jesse Crain figures to be in the mix when he returns from biceps tendinitis surgery.

"I think if we had a guy, it would have been decided by now," Porter said. "We will go into the season with a closer by committee and try to look at the best situation given that night in each game."

The Astros struggled mightily to close games last year, especially after trading Jose Veras to the Tigers at the Trade Deadline. Fields, who has had a great spring, got some chances to close games in his rookie season last year. Qualls closed for the D-backs in 2009-10.

"If you have a guy down there that you can say to yourself, 'This guy has separated himself from the other guys that were in the competition,' the information will be in front of you," Porter said. "That's not the case right now. I'm not going to speculate on what's going to happen by April 15, but as we sit here today, that's the situation we're dealing with."

Porter said it's more about having five guys all throwing well as opposed to no great choices.

"All of those guys have done a really good job," Porter said. "When you don't have one guy that has separated himself, you would rather it be the way it is where all those guys are throwing the ball well. That's a good problem to have."

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.