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Feldman starting Opening Day for Astros

The SportsXchange

As expected, the Houston Astros picked veteran right-hander Scott Feldman as the Opening Day starter.

The rest of the rotation, however, is far from determined.

With two weeks remaining until Opening Day, manager Bo Porter will not say if right-handers Jarred Cosart, Jerome Williams, Brad Peacock, Lucas Harrell or left-handers Brett Oberholtzer and Dallas Keuchel will comprise his four-man rotation.

Even hard-throwing right-handed prospect Mike Foltynewicz has not been eliminated, although he is probably likely to start at Class AAA Oklahoma City.

"Whenever you have two weeks out and you still have a number of guys that are still competing, that means that the guys that are in the competition are actually doing well and there hasn't been much separation, which is for me a good thing," Porter said. "The more pitching you have the better. If all these guys continue to throw well it's a good problem to have."

Keuchel, who will start Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, is the only Astros' starting candidate who has not given up a run. He has thrown nine scoreless innings over three appearances this spring.

"When I talked to the staff at the end of last year, my feeling was Dallas is the type of guy that has to earn his spot every year," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Especially in spring training his stuff doesn't blow you away, but if you get to know Dallas over time he grows on you.

"This spring he's been outstanding. He's had command of his pitches. He's not blowing anybody away, but he's getting outs. And that's exactly what he's proven he can do at the big league level. Right now he's put himself in a real good spot to be a big part of this team."

Feldman, who was 12-12 over 30 games between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles last season, will at least give the Astros a veteran anchor for the rotation. He is 51-56 with a 4.27 ERA since reaching the majors in 2005.

"You look at his track record and the fact that he's a former 17-game winner and the fact that he gives us a great opportunity to win a ballgame each and every time he takes the mound," Porter said of Feldman. "He's a strike thrower. He's a competitor."

Feldman, who was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 2009 with the Texas Rangers, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA over two starts this spring.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Jorge De Leon was reassigned to minor-league camp on Sunday. "They told me I've done a good job," said De Leon, who finished camp with a 1.80 ERA. "They told me my stuff -- my slider, changeup, split -- improved. They told me to keep working and if they need me they're going to call me."

--RHP Brad Peacock has added a changeup this spring, and the addition drew praise after he gave up only one run and two hits with four strikeouts through four innings of relief. "I'm definitely happy with it," Peacock said. "The changeup was great today, and that's the pitch I've been working on the most. I was able to throw it for strikes and for balls whenever I wanted. Last year it wasn't great, and I had three decent pitches and I need just a changeup. "Me and (pitching coach Brent Strom) have been working every day on it. I'm trying to throw it like my fastball and make it look like my fastball, and it did today."

--C Tyler Heineman, 22, left a good impression during his first major-league camp. "We're fortunate that we've got a pretty decent roster of prospect catchers," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "And Heineman, I would say our major league staff knew who he was but didn't really know much about him. He's definitely on the radar now. Our collective belief -- not only staff and front office -- is that he's going to be a catcher in the big leagues. He'll probably go to (Class AA) Corpus Christi and probably share the workload there."

--LHP Rudy Owens, who was in line to be one of the first pitchers called up to the majors last year at Class AAA Oklahoma City before he suffered a fractured left foot, did not pitch as he had hoped before he was optioned to minor-league camp Sunday. Owens was 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA, allowing four runs over 4 1/3 innings this spring. "I came back and I felt great," he said. "The camp, I want to say it could have gone a lot better. Maybe not a lot better, but it could have gone better. I expected more out of myself coming into camp, and there's just kind of a slow ongoing process."

--RHP Scott Feldman, who was the Texas Rangers' Opening Day starter in 2010, will join Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers to earn Opening Day starts for the Astros and Rangers. Ryan started on Opening Day for the Astros in 1982, 1985 and 1986 and the Rangers in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Last year, honestly, was one of those where it was like, 'I'm just thankful I made it through.' I had an eight-hour trip so I had some time to think. You think, 'Wow, that was pretty bad.' I don't know how some of those fans put up with it.' We still actually had a pretty good showing there even though it was minor-league ball at times. You never want to see that. You never want fans to see that, and being a professional you never want to perform like that." -- Left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
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