Sprucing up Minute Maid Park in anticipation of Opening Day.

The Astros held a workout for the 40th time (or somewhere in that neighborhood) in a row on Thursday, but this one carried special significance, because it was the last one before Opening Day.

Not that the Astros will stop working out, practicing and going through the drills and routine that keeps them sharp throughout the year. But for the better part of seven weeks they’ve been working out on the field together in preparation for a season that seemingly, at least to some of us, was never going to get here.

It was a picture-perfect day in Houston on Thursday — low humidity, lots of sun, a mild breeze — and the same is expected for Opening Day. As the players ran around the field, support staff and stadium workers spent the afternoon sprucing up the place for what should be a sellout crowd on Friday. Here are the images from the last quiet day we’ll experience at Minute Maid Park for a while:

(P.S. Gates will open at 4 p.m. on Friday. The first pitch will be at 6:05 p.m. Pregame introductions will begin around 5:30, so be sure to get there early.)


Photo gallery:

On the main concourse level...banners everywhere.

Painting the Opening Day logo on the field, behind home plate.

Jason Castro watches practice minutes before taking BP.

Martinez during BP

Two interesting items as we get ready to delve into the season:

1. The Astros are the second-youngest team in the big leagues. The average age of their 25-man roster is 27.82 years, behind only the Royals, whose average age is 27.42.

On that note, Baseball America recently tabbed the club’s Double-A Corpus Christi team as the eighth-best team  in Minor League Baseball. The explanation:

“It has been a long time since the Astros could assemble enough talent to fill a roster like this, but last year’s trades have helped make up for the organization’s minor league talent deficiency. 1B Jonathan Singleton (No. 34) and RHP Jarred Cosart (No. 50) both came over in last summer’s Hunter Pence trade. Fellow Phillies’ pickups SS Jonathan Villar ahd RHP Josh Zeid are joined by ex-Brave LHP Brett Oberholtzer on what may be the Astros’ most talented minor league club in a decade.”


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“Here are the images from the last quiet day we’ll experience at Minute Maid Park for a while”…you mean until Saturday, right?

Alyson, the people of Austin need your help! It makes no sense that we are unable to watch the game tonight. It’s blacked out on the only channel for Time Warner Cable subscribers to watch, which would be a free trial of the MLB package! Fox Sports is showing the Rangers this afternoon, yet nothing this evening. I fear it’s going to be this way most of the season. I even have the MLB.tv package, but it’s blacked out there as well, due to my location. Is there anything that can be done? Who can we contact to complain about this? I can’t believe I’m going to miss watching opening day for the first time in 25+ years.

B: So sorry that you were not able to watch the game. I can assure you the Astros do not make these decisions. I would encourage you to express your feelings to your cable provider. As we move to our Comcast deal next year, we are going to need the viewing audience to be vocal with its request to watch Astros games! Thanks for following the team and I hope you will be able to watch many games this year. Alyson

It sounds like it’s beyond the scope of fans contacting the cable company, as I’ve done year after year. This year their response is: “Sounds like you better start liking the Rangers” – no joke. Not sure what to do, honestly. Switching providers isn’t an option for me (and for a lot of the Austin area). If Fox Sports Southwest is not showing the Astros, then Time Warner Cable subscribers in Austin will not see the game, period – and FSSW typically chooses Dallas-area broadcasts over the Houston Fox feed.Time Warner has the vast majority of viewership in central Texas. Missed the first 2 games of the season, and they showed Sunday’s game. I sincerely wish there was some way to circumvent this.

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