A few firsthand observations on the Astros before they begin their first road trip of the season (as the fans head for the exits, above, as Justin Maxwell walks off after striking out to end the rubber match with the Rangers):
—Ronnie Cedeno brings poise and experience to the game. He looks like has has taken a eleventeen skintillion ground balls to short. Because he has.
— Brett Wallace had a decent spring and showed some pop … but seems lost, even discouraged, when striking out. It’s too small a sample to peg the season for him — he dipped below .100 and simply wasn’t putting balls in play — but you’ve got to wonder if all these whiffs put more pressure on him in what some see as a make-or-break season for him. Can’t help but root for the guy, considering his swing and the kind of power he’s shown from time to time.
— Don’t sit on the first base side for day games if the roof is open. I’ve done it too many times in the past — an Opening Day for one season, a closing day another year — and I still never learn. If the roof is open, the angle of the sun is murder for trying to see the game. One time, in desperation, I put on the souvenir batting helmet that came with my kid’s popcorn. I looked like an idiot — or like Greg Luzinski poised in the stands, ready to pinch-hit — but it was the only way I was able to make out Carlos Lee hitting a home run.
— It’s a different Jason Castro this season, especially at bat. Reason: Health. It’s the Castro we were hoping he’d be.
— Don’t make the same mistake I did, repeatedly, during the opening series: It’s the American League, dummy, not the National League. Phil Humber had a decent start during the opening series, but somewhere around the fifth or sixth I actually wondered out loud if they were going to pinch-hit for him. I hope nobody heard me. My son did. At 11, he’s smarter than me. “It’s not even interleague,” he told me. I could hear his eyes rolling without even looking at him.