Astros

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORT -

ball­park, plus five other full­sized prac­tice fields apiece.

“To be the road team and only have to travel 100 yards is pretty re­mark­able,” Astros man­ager A.J. Hinch said.

For the record, Washington’s Daniel Mur­phy got the first hit and the Astros’ Car­los Beltran launched the first homer, a two-run shot in the fourth in­ning. Be­yond the left field berm re­sides the Hous­ton ex­ec­u­tive of­fices, which Washington’s Derek Nor­ris hit on one bounce for a home run. Harper dou­bled home the first run.

Mike Fiers, com­pet­ing with Joe Mus­grove to be the Astros’ No. 5 starter, al­lowed a run and four hits in two in­nings. Astros re­liever Will Har­ris ex­ited in the fifth in­ning be­cause of what he de­scribed as groin tight­ness.

Har­ris, a first-time Al­lS­tar last sea­son, threw 10 pitches and re­tired both bat­ters be­fore sig­nal­ing to Hinch for trainer as­sis­tance. He came out of the game, his first of the spring, as a pre­cau­tion, he said.

A crowd of 5,987 fans at­tended, and a big at­trac­tion seemed to be the rac­ing pres­i­dent mas­cots, who made the trip from Na­tion­als Park. In­stead of Teddy Roo­sevelt, Ge­orge Washington, Thomas Jef­fer­son or Abra­ham Lin­coln, the opener fea­tured Wil­liam Taft, Her­bert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.

Along with club­houses that ri­val most of those at ma­jor league ball­parks in both size and num­ber of tele­vi­sions, the Na­tion­als’ side of the fa­cil­ity fea­tures a train­ing pool, which be­gan to be filled on Mon­day.

“A div­ing board would have been nice — maybe a slide,” joked Jeremy Guthrie, who threw the first pitch Tues­day af­ter morn­ing rain cleared out.

There are still per­ma­nent fix­tures that need work at the park that holds over 7,000 — some con­ces­sion stands won’t open for a few more games, and not all bath­rooms had hot wa­ter. But what was ac­com­plished in 15 months since the ball­park’s ap­proval was lauded by play­ers, coaches, fans and Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred, who was in at­ten­dance.

“The sta­dium bowl it­self is ab­so­lutely first rate, but I think the back fields and prac­tice ar­eas are amaz­ing, as well,” Man­fred said.

About 15 min­utes from the new ball­park is Roger Dean Sta­dium in Jupiter, shared by the Cardinals and Mar­lins.

“I love the idea of spring train­ing baseball in south­east­ern Florida,” said Man­fred, who has an apart­ment close to West Palm Beach. “I ac­tu­ally think it’s not just per­sonal, it’s good for the game to have two cen­ters of baseball in the state of Florida. It al­lows teams to keep their travel time down.”

The Astros moved from Kis­sim­mee, which had other teams in the area. The Na­tion­als trained in Viera, from where bus rides of two and three hours were the norm. This spring 27 of their 34 games will be played in Palm Beach County. Three more will be played two coun­ties north at the Mets’ fa­cil­ity in Port St. Lu­cie.

JOEL AUERBACH / GETTY IM­AGES

Des­ig­nated hit­ter Car­los Beltran went 1 for 2 with a tworun homer in the Astros’ 4-3 loss to the Na­tion­als on Tues­day at the teams’ new park.

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