Astros head to spring training

Fans of the Houston Astros have been waiting for this day for a while, and it’s finally here. Pitchers and catchers report to Florida today for the start of spring training.

After falling short of the playoffs last season, the Astros made some major upgrades to their roster. Carlos Beltran returned as a free agent. Power hitter catcher Brian McCann came over from the Yankees. Josh Reddick signed with the Astros as a free agent. Add it all up to the core that was already in place, and the return to health from pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, and there’s no wonder many of the experts are picking the Astros to win the AL West. Manager AJ Hinch won’t back away from those expectations, not one bit.

“We welcome that. Bring it. Bring it to us and put that kind of pressure on us because we have a good team,” Hinch said.

General Manager Jeff Luhnow agrees with Hinch and now fans expect more than 87 wins in 2017.

“We’ve got to win our division. The way to do that is to beat the teams in our division. We did not do a good job of that last year with the Rangers. This is a different year,” Luhnow explained.

And he may not be done tinkering with the roster. The Astros have reportedly tried to land a top of the rotation starting pitcher for much of the winter. Names like Jose Quintana of the White Sox and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer are the names most frequently mentioned. For the moment, no deal has been made because asking prices were apparently too high. But, as the season goes on, Luhnow says they might have to revisit that.

“Come June or July we are going to have to take stock of where we are,” Luhnow said. “But we have time for that.”

The full roster is set to report to camp on February 18th.

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