3/29/2013 9:35 P.M. ET
Deshaies returns to familiar Minute Maid Park
By Gene Duffey / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Jim Deshaies, the Cubs' new TV analyst, debated whether to attend Friday night's exhibition game against the Astros. Deshaies. a left-handed pitcher, played for the Astros and worked in their broadcast booth for 16 seasons.
"It's fun, but I knew it would be awkward coming back here," he said. "I wondered whether to come or not, but I wanted to see people. I got to shake some hands and see some old friends."
Friday's game was not televised, so it was a night off for Deshaies.
Deshaies thought about using the Astros' team parking below Minute Maid Park, then decided against it.
"I got metered parking on the street," he said. "I'll probably get a ticket."
Since the Astros' Spring Training home is in Kissimmee, Fla., this was Deshaies' first spring in Arizona since he pitched for the Oakland A's in 1992.
"The Kissimmee area is touristy," he said. "Phoenix is more of a metro area. It's kind of like a baseball reunion. You're always bumping into somebody."
Deshaies saw former players, including outfielder Rick Monday and pitcher Tom Browning.
Deshaies said it was a tough decision leaving the Astros after all those years.
"It was like being a free agent," he said. "It was such a good opportunity I had to take it. [The Cubs] have been very welcoming to me since the day I got hired."
Play-by-play announcer Len Kasper was excited to have Deshaies on his team.
"It feels really comfortable," Kasper said. "He's got a ton of insight, a ton of humor, self-deprecating. He brings the whole package. He's very similar to Bob Brenly."
Deshaies sold his home in The Woodlands, north of Houston, and plans to live full time in Chicago.
"I'm a Northern guy," said Deshaies, who grew up in Massena, N.Y., and played a LeMoyne College in Syracuse. "I grew up in the cold."
With the Astros now in the American League, it hit Deshaies that Friday night will be his last time at Minute Maid Park until at least next season.
"It would have been ideal if the Astros had stayed in the National League and I could maintain old ties," he said.
• The Chicago Cubs will reach back to the glory days of their franchise for this year's home opener, April 8, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams and pitcher Ferguson Jenkins will throw out ceremonial first pitches to start the season at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs will call on the original Mr. Cub, shortstop/first baseman Ernie Banks, to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh inning stretch, a longtime Cubs tradition. Banks is another Cubs Hall of Famer, as he was inducted into Cooperstown in 1977.
• The Cubs announced on Friday that right-handed pitcher Guillermo Moscoso was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Moscoso, a native of Venezuela, had been claimed by the Cubs on Wednesday off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. He is 11-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 57 Major League appearances with Texas, Oakland and Colorado.
The move left the Cubs one under the 40-man roster limit. Infielder Brent Lillibridge, a non-roster invitee, could fill that final spot.
• The Cubs gave catcher Welington Castillo some extra batting practice on Thursday at the Cubs' Minor League camp in Mesa, Ariz. He drove in two runs with a double in the first inning of Friday's exhibition against the Astros.
Castillo, who played in 63 games with the Cubs over the last three seasons, struggled at the plate this spring.
On the other side, shortstop Starlin Castro hit .378, going 14-for-37.
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.