New Astro Stassi Eager To Impress





KISSIMMEE, Fla.—Max Stassi was used to the Athletics. Oakland conducted its annual spring training in Phoenix, and the 21-year-old catcher had grown accustomed to a certain way of life.

Then the Jed Lowrie trade went down.

Stassi, young first baseman Chris Carter and righthander Brad Peacock were dealt to the rebuilding Astros on Feb. 4 in exchange for Lowrie, a veteran shortstop, and righthanded reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

The trade shook up both clubs' starting lineups, angered a portion of an already-frustrated Astros fanbase and immediately affected the lives of Carter and Stassi. The former had to figure out how to get his car shipped and arrange a variety of last-minute life details. Stassi had to determine where he stood in the Astros' constantly evolving minor league pipeline, particularly because he received a training camp invite and the organization had just two major league-ready catchers.

"There's a lot of things I'm still working on as far as defense and offense. I've had my fair share of injuries and the main thing for me is just to stay on the field and stay healthy," said Stassi, who hit .268/.331/.468 with 15 home runs in 314 at-bats for high Class A Stockton last season.

Stassi's initial Astros run got even more complicated. He reported early to camp, arriving three days ahead of schedule and four before the first official team workout. But the 5-foot-10, 205-pound catcher was held out of action three days due to a strained oblique, forcing the Astros to bring in minor league veteran Ryan McCurdy to catch side sessions while fellow catcher Carlos Perez was stuck in Venezuela due to visa issues.

Stassi could have made a strong first impression on the Astros. He could still become the team's primary catcher this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, working with manager Tony DeFrancesco, who was the big league club's interim manager at the end of 2012.

It wasn't an ideal start for Stassi, an Oakland fourth-rounder in 2009, but he hopes the rest of his fifth professional season falls more in line with his major league expectations.

"I'm just going to go out and play hard and see where that takes me," Stassi said. "You can't worry about the things you can't control."

Space Shots

• Prospects Delino Deshields Jr., George Springer and Jonathan Villar arrived early in camp, joining about 17 Astros position players who reported before the official date.

• First baseman Jonathan Singleton apologized for his 50-game suspension during a press conference before the start of camp. Singleton, who tested positive for marijuana in January, said, "It's time to show my true colors. I'm an honest, upfront guy, so you'll see who I am in the future."