Astros general manager Ed Wade addressed the full squad Sunday morning at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., and told the pitchers, catchers and position players in camp that no matter where they stand — veteran or young ballplayer — each should play the game with something to prove.
Wade expects veterans, such as Bill Hall, Carlos Lee and Brett Myers, to lead by example, as well as outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, both of whom are expected to step up as leaders and serve as an influential voice for the younger players.
At the same time, Wade doesn’t want players along the lines of Brian Bogusevic, Jason Castro, Chris Johnson, Bud Norris and Brett Wallace to act like young guys, but instead, take the initiative and help to make a difference in strengthening the club’s overall nucleus.
“We talked about the good core nucleus that we have,” Wade said regarding Sunday morning’s meeting. “We talked about how the veteran players know their responsibilities and how they should lead by example. We also told the young guys that they don’t have to act like young guys. They also can take responsibility for how they approach the game and for how they carry themselves. Every player, no matter who they are, should come into camp with the attitude that they have something to prove.”
The Astros are coming off a forgettable 2010 offensive season in which manager Brad Mills’ squad ranked last in the National League in home runs (108), on-base percentage (.303), slugging percentage (.362), OPS (.665), total bases (1,974) and at-bats per home run (50.5).
Wade and Mills will be counting on Lee to get back on track after a career-low .246 batting average and his lowest RBI total (89) since the 2002 season as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
“Carlos is a huge part of what we are able to do,” Wade said. “Last season was an aberration. I know he’s not happy with the season he had and look for him to bounce back.”
As for Lee, he takes full responsibility for not producing consistently during the 2010 campaign and says he feels ready going into this season.
“Last year is in the past,” Lee said. “It was a tough first couple of months of the season for me. I think I tried everything, but nothing seemed to work until the second half of the season. It was just one of those years, I guess. I feel good this year and I’m ready to go. I like our team a lot. We got a great bunch of guys here.”
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