Despite plenty of interest, Astros plan to keep Jed Lowrie

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The Astros don’t have many building blocks, but it seems they view shortstop Jed Lowrie as one of them. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that they’re planning to hold on to him, even though several teams have asked about him.

Lowrie played like an All-Star in the first half of last season, only to get injured and fade later. He ended up batting .244/.331/.438with 16 homers in 340 at-bats.

Unfortunately, injuries have been the story of Lowrie’s career thus far, which is a big reason why the Red Sox were willing to trade him to Houston for Mark Melancon last winter. Lowrie turns 29 in April, but he’s yet to play in 100 games in a big-league season. Overall, he’s hit .250/.326/.417 in 1,148 at-bats.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.