Opening Day is about hope and optimism. Just don’t go looking for it in Houston this year.
The Astros will be chasing the wrong kind of history. They could become the first team in Major League Baseball to field back-to-back 100-game losers in different leagues.
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Tracking the Astros
TV outlook dim: Will Central Texas even be able to watch the Astros? No, not unless there are unexpected breakthroughs in negotiations between Comcast Sportsnet Houston and area carriage providers. The sides are thought to be far apart.
After the Rangers series (Sunday night on ESPN; Tuesday-Wednesday on FOXSW), the Astros will go dark beginning next Friday against Oakland. The ‘Stros left FOXSW for Comcast, so Fox Southwest is all-Rangers, all-the-time. As of today, the majority of the Houston market won’t even see Astros games.
New AL faces: Yep, the Yankees are coming to town, with two caveats: 1) the Bronx Bombers appear broken down and 2) they don’t arrive in Minute Maid until the last three games of the year - Sept. 27-29, a football weekend. Other top AL attractions include Detroit for a long weekend (May 2-5), Boston (Aug. 5-7) and heavy doses of the LA Angels (May 7-9; June 28-30; Sept. 13-15) and, of course, the Rangers (March 31, April 2-3; May 10-12; Aug. 9-12).
This DH thing: Astros fans have to get used to the designated hitter in their new league. Curiously, the rebuilding ‘Stros signed 34-year-old Carlos Pena (.197, (19 HR, 61 RBIs) to fill the role instead of giving another youngster the at-bats. “There are some finer points to being a DH,” manager Bo Porter told the media. “Carlos is experienced at that. A young guy who has never DHed before, he’ll almost act as if he’s pinch-hitting four times.” Pena has 277 career homers.
Up and coming: Many of the Astros top prospects are in the low minors. Yet there are some you could get a glimpse of this year, including first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Houston’s No. 2 on Baseball America’s list; outfielder George Springer (No. 3); second baseman-center fielder Delino DeShields Jr. (No. 6) and pitcher Jarred Cosart (No. 7).