First team meeting

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Once everyone was present and accounted for in the home clubhouse Wednesday morning in Kissimmee, the team gathered for its annual introductory team meeting, during which three key figures addressed the club: owner Drayton McLane, general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills.

McLane spoke of leadership, accountability, hard work and…you guessed it…the “c” word.

“Those that have known me before,” McLane said, “Have I ever talked about being a champion?”

Wade spoke passionately about the new coaching staff and about Mills, Wade’s first major on-field hire since he became GM in September of 2007.

As he introduced the athletic trainers, instructors, special assistants and coaches, Wade also mentioned the years of baseball service time each individual had accrued over the years.

For example, the big league staff was presented as: Brad Arnsberg, 27 years. Sean Berry, 24 years. Dave Clark, 27 years. Bobby Meacham, 30 years. Al Pedrique, 32 years. Jamie Quirk, 38 years. Brad Mills, 31 years.

“That’s 209 years, an average of almost 30 years a man,” Wade said, adding that of the 29 members of the Spring Training field staff this year, they have acquired a total of 896 years of service time.

“There are a lot of things to draw upon,” Wade said. “And shame on you, shame on us, if we don’t take advantage of it.”

Watch the video, posted here.

Puma looks the same, which is a good thing.

I posted pictures on the Astros Facebook page and my Twitter page Wednesday morning from the first full squad workout, and sure enough, it took only about five minutes before the same questions to emerge:

“Has Berkman lost weight?”

Now, I admit I asked him the same thing when I saw him in January on a caravan stop. Actually, to me, he simply looked like he was in great shape — slim, strong and healthy. Contrary to the public’s perception, however, this is how he looks most of the time. I’m sure he has a weight fluctuation through the season, as most people do over a seven-month span, but for the most part, Puma is NOT what so many fans have labeled him as — plump, and out of shape.

Over the years, he’s joked about how his round face perpetuates the misperception, especially when he’s shown on TV. Puma’s “big jowls” are there whether his weight is up or down. For the most part, he looks the same as always — good.

Other items of note:

* Several Astros players will participate in ESPN The Weekend at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando this Saturday and Sunday. Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and Berkman will participate in Saturday’s activities while Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee will take part on Sunday afternoon.

* On Wednesday, (March 3), the Astros will play a seven-inning intrasquad game on one of the back practice fields at the Osceola County Stadium complex at 11:00 am (ET). Free and open to the public.

* The Astros will hold a Minor League mini-camp beginning Friday (Feb. 26). A total of 37 Minor Leaguers will participate, including pitchers Brad Dydalewicz, Tanner Buschue, Jordan Lyles and Ross Seaton, infielders Koby Clemens and Jiovanni Mier, and outfielders T.J. Steele and J.B. Shuck.

From Wednesday’s workout:

Puma

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Carlos Lee, Pedro Feliz

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Lee, posing for the cameras.

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Blum, Keppinger, Matsui

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Questions? Send to afooter@astros.com 

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