The Houston Astros announced a couple of moves on Wednesday, as they announced their Opening Day starter and optioned a pair of right-hand pitchers to minor league camp.
They will open the 2013 season on March 31 at Minute Maid Park as they open up their new life in the AL West against new in-state rival Texas Rangers. Houston will send Bud Norris to the mound on Opening Day, and they will have Lucas Harrell and Philip Humber as the number two and three starters behind him in the rotation.
This will be the first Opening Day start for Norris, as he follows former teammates Roy Oswalt (2003-10), Bret Myers (2011), and Wandy Rodriguez (2012). Norris will try to snap a streak of six consecutive Opening Day losses that the Astros have suffered. When asked about the opportunity, he was humbled by the selection from Houston skipper Bo Porter:
I'm very honored. It's something I've been working for my whole career, something everyone works for their whole career. It's a childhood dream to have an Opening Day game like that. I know Lucas had a great spring and he can pitch. It was either/or with us. I wasn't made if he got it or whatnot. I'm excited to go out there and give this team every opportunity to go out there and win, and do it in Houston on a nationally televised game.
In 2012, Norris went 7-13 and was noticeably better when pitching at Minute Maid Park. He put together a 4-1 record with a 1.71 ERA and held batters to just a .199 batting average across 11 starts. He was a less impressive 3-12 while on the road.
Also of note, Houston also optioned right-handers Jordan Lyles and John Ely to minor league camp. As of Wednesday evening, 37 players remained in big league camp.