Baseball: Astros have plenty of adjustments to make, particularly a switch to American League
It's all about “new” in Houston. New manager. New uniforms. New mascot.
The Houston Astros have a new manager, new uniforms, new mascot and a relatively new owner.
The biggest change is the Astros will play in a new league.
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After playing 51 years in the National League, the Astros were moved to the American League West.
Because of interleague play, players are accustomed to games with a designated hitter. But players at the Astros caravan Friday afternoon at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark said there will be an adjustment period.
“I haven't been through this. None of our guys have been through this,” said pitcher Jordan Lyles. “We just have to learn on the run. At the same time, it's not that different. You still try to attack hitters' weaknesses.”
The Astros are one of the youngest teams in baseball. Right-hander Bud Norris is the longest-tenured Astro. And he's only been in the majors 3½ years. Gains made this season will benefit the team in the future.
“It's definitely going to be an adjustment for players, coaches, fans, everyone in the organization,” Norris said. “We have to report to spring training and be ready to learn. I'm sure our manager, Bo Porter, will tell us how we're going to approach it.
“I loved being involved with the offensive side in the National League. But the way I look at it is we didn't have any control over it. The American League is a different game. We have to look at the positives. My job still is to get three outs every inning.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, who retired after 59 years calling games for seven different Major League teams, the past 28 with the Astros, is old-school. He's not a big fan of the DH but said the organization prepared for the switch.
“The DH is different, which is why they got Carlos Pena,” Hamilton said. “They'll try to play long ball a little more.”
One advantage is the DH allows players to stay in the lineup without taking a day off.
“It will give guys a break on their legs when they need it,” said outfielder Justin Maxwell, who led the team with 18 home runs his first season. “But most DHs are veterans who play that role most every day.”
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