Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow takes special pride in having seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, 3,000-hit club member Craig Biggio and all-time strikeout leader Nolan Ryan at his disposal and available to help his young club.
Addressing a very young team that lost 111 games last year and has finished with the worst record in baseball for three consecutive seasons, Clemens wasted no time adding a since of urgency this year.
? "I hope they pay attention to detail," Clemens said after addressing the players Wednesday. "And I hope they pay attention when they-re not pitching, watch what's happening to a certain hitter that they may have trouble with, or how they want to break that hitter down. That's all part of the learning process, but, good Lord, you-re a major league player. You should already have that in your routine in your makeup and how you carry yourself."
Moreover, manager Bo Porter is adamant that he wants his players to pay close attention when they have a chance to listen and learn the likes of Clemens, Biggio and Ryan.
Clemens arrived Wednesday for his first of two stints as an instructor at Osceola County Stadium. Ryan hasn't set his dates yet, but he said he is likely going to arrive in camp in mid-March. Considering that right-handers Scott Feldman and Jerome Williams are the team's only expected starters over 26, the young rotation would be wise to pay close attention to Clemens and Ryan.
With that in mind, Porter gave his team a stern lecture Wednesday about being ready and somewhat more attentive than they were when Clemens addressed the players earlier in the morning.
? "Obviously, as an organization, we're fortunate to have some people like Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio and different people that will come in throughout the course of the year and speak to our ball club,"?Porter told the Houston Chronicle. "Out of respect to your teammates, out of respect to the people that take time out of their day that come out here and try to do everything that they can to help this organization, it's the right thing to do to make sure that you are dressed and ready and attentive when that person shows up."?
Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers of his time and a 354-game winner who is ninth on baseball's all-time wins list, wants the Astros' pitchers to be more vigilant.
-- RHP Asher Wojciechowski, who spent last season at Class AAA Oklahoma City and arrived at his first major league camp as the pitching prospect closest to reaching the majors, expects to throw Thursday for the first time this spring. He pulled his lat muscle during a bullpen session on Feb. 1 and is probably not going to be ready to pitch in a Grapefruit League game until the second week of exhibitions, he says.
-- 1B Japhet Amador, the Mexican slugger the Astros signed from the Mexican League's Mexico City Red Devils last August, is away from the team for a medical emergency. It is unclear when he will report to spring training.
-- RHP Mark Appel, who hasn't thrown a bullpen session yet as he recovers from the appendectomy he underwent Jan. 31, might be ready to throw a bullpen session on Thursday.
-- 1B Jonathan Singleton was the only position player with a serious chance to win a starting job to not show up early to spring training to begin working out with the club ahead of the mandatory reporting date.
-- RHP Jesse Crain, who was signed as a free agent reliever even though he was recovering from the right biceps surgery he underwent in October, suffered a right calf strain on Tuesday. The 2013 All-Star hasn't pitched since July. He isn't expected back until April, but it is unclear if the calf injury will delay his expected return further.