Astros embrace unique schedule, opponents

Astros embrace unique schedule, opponents

HOUSTON -- For their final tuneup before the Yankees come to town for Tuesday's season opener, the Astros looked south of the border.

While teams routinely play Minor League clubs and college teams during Spring Training, the Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz (Veracruz Red Eagles) of the Mexican League are still an exotic foe, though the Rangers also faced the Diablos Rojos del Mexico last year.

The Astros faced the Red Eagles on Saturday night and will again Sunday with a split-squad roster, while the rest of the squad faced the Rangers in San Antonio's Alamodome on Friday and Saturday.

The Red Eagles have many big league connections despite the Mexican League's Triple-A affiliation.

Two-time MLB All-Star Jose Offerman manages the club, which won the league title in 2012 and had three Mexican League All-Stars in 2013. Former Major Leaguers Jesus Feliciano and Lorenzo Barcelo are also on the roster.

But the Astros have been preoccupied with trimming down their roster before Opening Day and wrapping up Spring Training. So despite that relative prestige, they knew little about the visitors to Minute Maid Park.

"We don't know too much about them," said manager Bo Porter. "But [Minor League infielder and Mexico native] Japhet Amador was giving us the scouting report before we came out. I think I'll keep him next to me during these games. He should know these guys pretty well."

Porter said the split-squad setup and unfamiliar opposition is good for the club after the routine of the past six weeks.

"When you're at Spring Training for [six or seven] weeks, whenever you can break and go play a couple more games someplace else -- whether that's going to San Antonio last night or a couple unique games like this -- that's always good."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. Chris Abshire is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.