Don't Call It A Comeback

Astros say Tanner Bushue doesn't need a fresh start





KISSIMMEE, Fla.—While 2010 could represent a fresh start for righthander Tanner Bushue, the Astros believe he doesn't need one.

"He's exactly where we thought he would be at this stage of his development," assistant general manager Ricky Bennett said.

Bushue, a second-round pick out of an Illinois high school in 2009, sustained a back injury last July that forced the Astros to shut him down, so he missed most of the season.

Bushue was limited to five starts in his professional debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He went 1-0, 2.42 with 19 strikeouts and five walks in 22 innings.

He's one of the 37 Astros prospects who was called to Kissimmee, Fla., early for a one-week minor league minicamp this year. Astros officials think the back problems that ended his 2009 were a one-time injury, and will not be a chronic condition.

"He wasn't used to doing a lot of the work that we had him doing," Bennett said. "It won't really change our thought process as far as his first full season."

Bushue is penciled in to begin the season in the rotation at low Class A Lexington after his first spring training, but nothing is set in stone.

Wherever he goes, he'll bring a low 90s fastball, a changeup and a curveball that serves as his signature pitch. Coming from a 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, the pitch has close to 12-to-6 movement.

"He's got a pretty good feel for it for a young pitcher," Bennett said.

SPACE SHOTS

• Two Astros prospects were slowed by injuries in the early stages of spring training. Shortstop Jiovanni Mier had shoulder soreness and backed off his training regimen. Outfielder Jon Gaston was also pulled out of workouts with a toe injury. Neither injury was considered serious.

Koby Clemens, who still faces uncertainty about his position, played first base for what was unofficially the first time in an intrasquad game. Clemens, who played third base in his first three professional seasons and caught the next two, will get time in the outfield and at first base, the latter being a position where the Astros do not have much depth. Clemens went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs after coming over from minor league camp for the game.