Winter league play is quickly coming to a close so the news on that front is starting to grind to a halt, but there was a lot of news in Astros-land yesterday. In case you missed any of it, here you go.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
The WBC provisional rosters were announced and we have a few Astros representing. The final rosters are not due until February 20th so there may be changes. The first round of the Classic starts on March 2nd and more info can be found here.
RHP Rhiner Cruz - Spain
OF Fernando Martinez - Spain
LHP Xavier Cedeno - Puerto Rico
RHP Murilo Gouvea - Brazil
RHP Chia-Jen Lo - Chinese Taipei
OF Che-Hsuan Lin - Chinese Taipei
Gouvea has already gotten his feet wet in WBC action. He was an integral part of the Brazilian team's upset as they knocked Panama out of the qualifying rounds back in November. According to Brian Smith of the Chronicle, Jeff Luhnow acknowledged that Fernando Martinez' chances to make the Astros opening day roster are probably going to be hindered by his participation in the WBC. And if you've forgotten who exactly Che-Hsuan Lin is, he was picked up off waivers from Boston and then later designated for assignment to Oklahoma City in order to make room for RHP John Ely.
Several other former Astros and former Astros farm hands are participating in the Classic, including Wandy Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada for the Dominican Republic, Nelson Figueroa and Carlos Beltran for Puerto Rico, Kaz Matsui for Japan, Ryan Rowland-Smith for Australia, Ben Zobrist for the U.S.A. and Jimmy Van Ostrand for Canada.
RICK ANKIEL SIGNING AND NON-ROSTER INVITEES
It was also announced yesterday that the Astros signed Rick Ankiel to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 33-year old pitcher turned outfielder is expected to compete for an OF position on the opening day roster. The other non-roster invitees who were announced yesterday were:
LHP Kevin Chapman
LHP Sergio Escalona
RHP Chuckie Fick
RHP Edgar Gonzalez
RHP Josh Zeid
OF Trevor Crowe
OF Jake Goebbert
OF Marc Krauss
OF Che-Hsuan Lin
OF George Springer
C Rene Garcia
C Jason Jaramillo
C Carlos Perez
C Chris Wallace
IF Brandon Laird
IF Jose Martinez
IF Delino DeShields, Jr.
Don't get too excited about the participation of Springer and DeShields; they are not expected to vie for roster spots. It is noteworthy that Kyle Weiland isn't included on the list which probably means that he hasn't progressed as far as the team would like in his recovery from surgery. There are no other real surprises for me on the list; however, I think the inclusion of Josh Zeid and Jake Goebbert signals a nice vote of confidence for the pair.
I have updated the Off-Season transaction list to make note of the Ankiel signing.
SEASON TICKET HOLDER EVENT WITH BO PORTER
I attended a Season Ticket Holder event with Bo Porter yesterday evening at Minute Maid Park. I plan to write up some of my thoughts on that event as time allows, but I did want to convey to my readers that I was able to elicit a very important promise from Porter. He assured me that he will not come up with nicknames by simply adding a "y" to the end of a name. He proclaimed himself to be "a first name kind of guy."
Also, I met Bill Brown and he really is as genuinely nice and gracious as he seems to be during the TV broadcasts. He reported that he's been doing his homework on the American League since November and, more importantly, let me try on his World Series ring!
KEVIN COMER INTERVIEW
And last but not least, this was a good interview with Kevin Comer that talks about his whirlwind first pro season and the trade that brought him to the Astros.