KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager Brad Mills, a former teammate of Gary Carter, made the more than 2 1/2-hour drive to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., along with his wife on Friday night to attend a memorial service for the Hall of Fame catcher, who died of brain cancer on Feb. 16. The pair were teammates with the Expos from 1980-83.
More than 1,000 former teammates, friends and members of Carter's family paid tribute to him.
"It was an outstanding memorial service," Mills said. "It was nice to see the family afterwards, and obviously there were a lot of baseball people there, but it was a very nice service. Johnny Bench spoke and did a great job, Tommy Hutton did a great job and [Carter's] children did a great job."
Carter and Mills played very different roles with the Expos, but Mills remembers him being down to earth. Carter was the starting catcher who was well en route to a Hall of Fame career, while Mills was a bench player who never played more than 54 games in any of his four seasons in Montreal.
"He got close to a lot of people simply because that's how he was," Mills said. "Our family and our wives became close. He wanted to be a good teammate, wanted to play on a winner and be a good player on any ballclub he was with. He did that with our ballclub in Montreal when we were one of the best teams in the NL, and he did the same thing with the Mets. He'll be missed."
Mills happy Astros are staying healthy
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- One week into spring camp, and Astros manager Brad Mills is thoroughly pleased with the health of his club. The only injuries that have appeared on his daily injury report have been as insignificant as lower back tightness and a sore wrist.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who experienced some tightness in his lower back while pitching on Thursday, was back on the mound Saturday and threw his third scheduled bullpen session without incident. Left-hander Sergio Escalona (left elbow) played long toss Saturday and will get back on the mound Sunday.
Third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who's been dealing with inflammation in his left wrist since playing in the Dominican Republic this winter, has been cleared to swing a bat lightly. Also, infielder Angel Sanchez hasn't been doing much work on the field because of back tightness.
"We've been here six days now with the pitchers and catchers and we're glad we don't have serious injury," Mills said. "We're not coming up with stuff like arm soreness. That means most of the guys have been throwing a little bit in the offseason, and we're happy with that. The little injuries with Escalona and Wandy seem like they're going by the wayside, and that's nice to see."
Astros to hold first full workout on Sunday
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros will hold their first full-squad workout on Sunday, when all 63 players in Major League camp are scheduled to hit the field for the first time this spring. Manager Brad Mills expects everyone to report by Sunday morning.
"We're very happy with the six days we've had [with pitchers and catchers] and now we're ready to move forward," he said.
In fact, the Astros have had a huge number of position players participating in drills for the last few days, a number that's growing daily. Non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes, who showed up Friday, was on the field for the first time Saturday.
The only players who hadn't worked out at Osceola County Stadium by Saturday were outfielders Carlos Lee and Jonathan Singleton and infielder Jonathan Villar. Position players aren't required to report until Sunday morning, when they will be given physicals prior to taking the field.
Astros owner Jim Crane, who addressed the pitchers and catchers on Monday, will be back in town on Sunday to talk to the full squad.
Top prospects throw at Minors camp
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right-handers Jarred Cosart and Mike Foltynewicz and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer -- three young pitchers ranked among the Astros' top seven prospects by MLB.com -- were among seven hurlers who participated Saturday in the first day at Minor League mini camp.
The other participants were right-handers Jake Buchanan, Ross Seaton, Josh Zeid and Jason Stoffel and catchers Miles Hamblin, Ryan McCurdy, Roberto Pena and Mike Kvasnicka. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who watched the pitchers throw, said the young arms will get some innings in Grapefruit League games.
"There's a lot of good arms out there, for sure," he said. "I think it's good to have these guys here. They're not quite in big league camp, but they're close. They're hopefully going to get into one or two games during Spring Training, and those are guys who could end up being in Houston next summer. It's good to get them one-on-one treatment with the coaches."
Cosart, acquired by the Astros from the Phillies last year, was admittedly bummed about not being invited to Major League camp, but he's ready to make the most of the opportunity he's getting at the mini camp.
"I can't control it," he said. "That's what [director of player development] Fred [Nelson] and all the guys told me today, to come out here and pitch and getting down here early just helps me get a little jump on everybody else coming to Minor League camp. It's a good group of guys, and I had [pitching coach Doug] Brocail and a lot of the big league guys watching today, so it's really not much different than over there."
Foltynewicz, drafted in the first round in 2010, is trying to improve his strike-zone command and build upon last year, when he went 5-11 with a 4.97 ERA in 26 starts at Class A Lexington.
"It's a pretty big year," Foltynewicz said. "Last year, I had good games and had bad games, and this year I just have to put it all together and find that happy medium. I think it's a big year to prove myself to a lot of the doubters out there, so it's a pretty big year."