Diving into the depths: Houston Astros

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Wandy Rodriguez
2. Brett Myers
3. J.A. Happ
4. Bud Norris
5. Ryan Rowland-Smith
6. Nelson Figueroa
7. Wesley Wright
8. Jordan Lyles
9. Aneury Rodriguez
10. Cesar Carrillo

The scary thing is that this probably qualifies as the strength of the team. Myers will be hard-pressed to match his 2010 season, but a full season from Happ should help the group and Norris could take a bit of a step forward, though I still believe his future lies in the pen and the closer’s role. … I expect that the team will add a veteran to battle Rowland-Smith and Figueroa for the fifth spot in the rotation. Jeremy Bonderman, Rodrigo Lopez and Dave Bush are a few of the pitchers likely to be forced to accept minor league deals.

Bullpen
1. Brandon Lyon
2. Mark Melancon
3. Wilton Lopez
4. Nelson Figueroa
5. Fernando Abad
6. Jeff Fulchino
7. Alberto Arias
8. Aneury Rodriguez
9. Wesley Wright
10. Gustavo Chacin
11. Sergio Escalona
12. Sammy Gervacio
13. Casey Fein
14. Enerio Del Rosario
15. Henry Villar
16. Lance Pendleton
17. Chia-Jen Lo

Beyond Lyon, it’s a pen full of relative unknowns. However, Melancon and Lopez impressed after getting opportunities last season, and Arias could function as another solid setup man if he returns from shoulder surgery as hoped. Giving away Matt Lindstrom was a mistake, but the Astros should be OK here.

Catcher
1. Jason Castro
2. Humberto Quintero
3. J.R. Towles
4. Carlos Corporan

First base
1. Brett Wallace
2. Carlos Lee
3. Brian Dopirak
4. Koby Clemens

Second base
1. Bill Hall
2. Jeff Keppinger
3. Matt Downs
4. Angel Sanchez
5. Anderson Hernandez

Third base
1. Chris Johnson
2. Jeff Keppinger
3. Matt Downs
4. Oswaldo Navarro

Shortstop
1. Clint Barmes
2. Tommy Manzella
3. Angel Sanchez
4. Oswaldo Navarro
5. Anderson Hernandez

The infield is going to make a whole lot of outs, especially if Barmes bats second as anticipated. I don’t see Johnson as a long-term regular, and Wallace has an awful lot to prove as well. The Astros do have the option of playing Carlos Lee at first, but given that they haven’t upgraded their outfield at all, Wallace figures to get every opportunity to win the job. … I’m listing Keppinger as the primary backup at two spots, but he’s expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the season after toe surgery last month. The Astros could again seek to trade him once he’s healthy.

Left field
1. Carlos Lee
2. Jason Michaels
3. Jason Bourgeois
4. Brian Bogusevic
5. J.D. Martinez
6. David Cook

Center field
1. Michael Bourn
2. Jason Bourgeois
3. Jason Michaels
4. Brian Bogusevic

Right field
1. Hunter Pence
2. Jason Michaels
3. Brian Bogusevic
4. J.D. Martinez

I could have copied this depth chart from a year ago. Unfortunately, Bogusevic was a disappointment again last season and it no longer seems likely that he’ll turn into even a legitimate fourth outfielder. Martinez could be one candidate to step in if Wallace struggles and the Astros decide to move Lee to first base during the season.

Alvarez’s bases-clearing double sends Astros past White Sox

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON – Yordan Alvarez hit a go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, and the Houston Astros rallied past the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Friday night for their first win of the season.

Kyle Tucker hit a two-run homer in the sixth and made a spectacular catch at the wall in the seventh to rob Andrew Benintendi of extra bases and keep the World Series champion Astros within one run.

Eloy Jimenez hit two RBI doubles for the White Sox, both off Astros starter Cristian Javier.

Jimenez’s first double scored Tim Anderson in the first inning. In the sixth, Javier gave up three straight doubles to Benintendi, Jimenez and Joan Moncada to make it 3-0 and end his night.

White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman (0-1) loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh on two walks and a single. Jake Diekman came on and gave up Alvarez’s double to deep left-center, a drive that just eluded Luis Robert Jr. and bounced off the wall, clearing the bases.

Four Astros relievers each worked one scoreless inning. Seth Martinez (1-0) got the win and Rafael Montero handled the ninth for his first save.

Chicago starter Lance Lynn allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

ALL IN A DAY’S REST

White Sox INF Andrew Vaughn, who hit a go-ahead two-run double in Thursday’s season-opening win, did not play. Vaughn experienced lower back issues during spring training. Gavin Sheets started at first base.

HOMETOWN HIT

Astros outfielder Corey Yulks, a Houston-area native, singled in his first at-bat and finished 1-for-4 in his major league debut.

PUT A RING ON IT

Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife, Whitney, presented the team and staff with their 2022 World Series rings in a pregame ceremony.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: LHP Blake Taylor, who is on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land.

UP NEXT

The four-game season-opening series continues Saturday when Houston’s Jose Urquidy faces Chicago’s Lucas Giolito.