Astros notes: FanFest, Myers, Bourn…and your Opening Day first baseman.

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The Astros have announced details about this year’s FanFest, which will take place April 9 and 10 in conjunction with Opening Weekend at Minute Maid Park. The events will take place primarily on the main concourse and will include autograph sessions, Talkin’ Baseball seminars with broadcasters and staff, silent auctions and the popular annual Garage Sale.

Admission is free each day with the purchase of a game ticket. The game on April 9 begins at 6:05 p.m. CT and at 1:05 p.m. CT on April 10.

Proceeds from the autograph sessions, Garage Sale and Mystery Grab Bags will benefit the Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park. Additionally, in-stadium and online auction proceeds will benefit relief efforts in Japan.

The list of, and schedule for, former and current players who will sign autographs will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, here are the basics:

Saturday, April 9:

* FanFest begins at noon, with gates opening at 11 a.m. This day will feature four autograph sessions, two from noon to 12:50 p.m. and two from 1 p.m. to 1:50.

* Each session will include autographs from four current players for a donation of $20 per session. Alumni will also sign.

* Other activities: Garage Sale, Mystery Grab Bags and auctions and face painters, clowns and other free activities for kids.

Sunday, April 10:

* Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Astros alumni players will sign autographs (current players sign on Saturday only).

* Other activities: Garage Sale, Mystery Grab Bags and auctions and face painters, clowns and other free activities for kids.

Tickets to the April 9 and 10 games are on sale now with prices starting as low as $7 for adults and $1 for kids ages 3-14.  Game tickets are available online at http://www.astros.com, at the Minute Maid Park Box Office on Texas Avenue or by phone toll free at 877-9ASTROS (877-927-8767).

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Myers to start Opening Day

The news that Brett Myers will pitch the first game of the regular season came as a shock to exactly no one, but it was still nice to hear Brad Mills make it official before the game in Jupiter on Friday.

Logic would dictate that Mills will have his rotation set up in a righty-lefty-right-lefty format, which would probably mean pitchers one through four would be Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ. But that doesn’t mean that’s how the rotation will look in another two weeks.

Mills hesitated to reveal how the pitchers will line up, probably because Wandy has been sidelined with shoulder tendinitis. However, Wandy has been cleared to start Tuesday’s game, and if you count out the days following that start, assuming he’ll be pitching on normal rest, that would put him on schedule to start April 1. Since that day is taken by Myers, it would make sense if Wandy pitched the next game.

Stay tuned.

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Other notables:

* Angel Sanchez’s back is still bothering him and he did not play on Friday.

* Michael Bourn, who has been hampered this week by a sinus condition, was back in the leadoff spot on Friday. Mills said before the game they’d be keeping an eye on him: “With this heat, it would be easy for him to get run down.” Bourn was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored against the Marlins.

* One Killer B leaves, another arrives. Jeff Bagwell left Kissimmee on Friday but plans to return the final week of Spring Training. Meanwhile, Craig Biggio is here for the weekend. Both are special assistants to the GM.

* Congrats to Jason Michaels and his wife, Pamela, on the birth of their son, Logan James. Little “LMike” arrived on St. Patty’s Day, weighing in at a robust eight pounds, seven ounces and measuring 20 inches.

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Links worth clicking:

* When you have a chance please read this delightful piece from Jerry Crasnick about Astros pitchers and their coach. It perfectly captures Brad Arnsberg and his relationship with his pitchers.

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* Heading into Spring Training, first base wasn’t Brett Wallace’s job to win as much as it was his to lose. He was penciled in as the starting first baseman when he arrived to Kissimmee, but with less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day, you can chuck the pencil and mark it in red ink.

From the feedback I received from readers throughout the spring season, there seemed to be a feeling that Wallace was competing with Carlos Lee for the first base job. That was not the case. Lee showed he could play a pretty good first base last season and was considered a Plan B for that position — but only if Wallace showed he wasn’t ready for the full-time job.

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Wallace would have had to have a monumentally terrible spring for that to happen. Instead, he’s had a fantastic go of it, hitting .364 through Friday’s game in Jupiter (where he went 2-for-4). He’s got it all but wrapped up.  

MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has a nice write up on Wallace here.

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1 Comment

As much as I wanted to see Carlos on 1st base, I’ve gotta give congrats to the Walrus for coming out strong this spring! Can’t wait for opening day =D

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