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
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."
• 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