Astros Spring Training Not Without Its Ups and Downs

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You might not realize this if you've only been watching ESPN or paying attention to the national sports media, but the New York Yankees aren't the only team with players reporting to spring training, and Alex Rodriguez isn't the only player in baseball. So I thought I would help out and fill you in on some of the goings on at Astros camp in Kissimmee, Florida.

In brief, we've definitely learned that Drayton McLane is a liar and a hypocrite. And that Roy Oswalt is a blowhard. That Miguel Tejada is still a coward. That Carlos Lee needs a calendar, only he doesn't need a calendar. That the Astros are still having medical problems. And that the Chron's beat writers are actually doing a good job covering the team.

Let's start with the health of the Astros.

Mike Hampton's heart problem has been cleared up and he has rejoined the team. But catcher Toby Hall, who was brought in to be this year's veteran backup catcher, injured his shoulder while he was with the Chicago White Sox last season and isn't able to throw the baseball, which is a bit of a problem for a catcher.

Now seeing as how Ivan Rodriguez is still out there awaiting a contract, and seeing as how he has expressed interest in the Astros, one would think that the Astros would be talking to Rodriguez. But general manager Ed Wade has decided to listen to Richard Justice and ignore Richard Justice, so the Astros have announced that they have absolutely no interest in signing in one of baseball's all-time great catchers. That leaves the favorites to be this season's catchers as Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles.

And there's seemingly a big uproar going on around the fact that Carlos Lee didn't make it into camp on Tuesday with the rest of the guys. Lee stated he got his days mixed up and didn't think he needed to be there until Thursday. Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman were a bit upset with Lee. Only they needed not be, since although the Astros requested that he come to camp on Tuesday, he's actually not required to report until next week.

Then there's Miguel Tejada who was met by hugs from his teammates, coaches, and Drayton McLane when he showed up on Tuesday. He was also greeted by various members of the media, and he once again refused to discuss steroids, HGH or lying to Congress. He specifically refused to discuss his so-called excuse that he purchased the HGH but didn't use it.

This in turn brings us to Roy Oswalt who on Tuesday afternoon was being hailed as one of the great courageous voices of baseball by most of the national media for his stand against Alex Rodriguez and fellow steroid users. Of course, while Oswalt is pissed that he had to pitch to a 'roided up A-Rod, he seemingly doesn't care too much about Miguel Tejada's sins as he fully embraced his teammate and said that he stands behind Tejada. If Oswalt wanted to take a brave stand against steroids, he would demand that Drayton McLane remove Miguel Tejada from the team. Instead, Oswalt's just another blowhard who likes to hear the sound of his own voice.

This next part pains me to write, but if I'm going to criticize the Chron, I've also got to point out when they're right. And Jesus Ortiz and Brian McTaggart were on fire the other day.

Jesus Ortiz nailed Drayton McLane's hypocrisy with Miguel Tejada, noting that McLane hugged Tejada and welcomed him back to the team despite the fact that Tejada is a criminal who was convicted of lying to Congress, yet McLane dumped Julio Lugo the day after Lugo's arrest, and despite the fact that Lugo was never convicted of a crime. Ortiz didn't let up and noted that Tejada is the only current player in MLB who has been convicted of a crime in this current steroid crisis.

Brian McTaggart, meanwhile, caught Drayton McLane in a lie involving Miguel Tejada. McLane has long stated that the Astros had no idea that Tejada was about to be named in the Mitchell Report when the team made the trade for Tejada on the day before the report's release. On Tuesday, McLane stated that before making the trade, he and various Astros officials had discussed the impending report and Tejada's possible inclusion in it before making the trade.

So while the great New York Yankee soap opera might be getting all of the press, the Houston Astros are doing everything they can to prove that as they're just as good a soap.

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