KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Scott Feldman became Houston's most veteran starter when the right-hander agreed to a $30 million, three-year contract with the youthful Astros in December.
He's ready to help in any way he can."On a lot of teams I've been on, I've always been one of the younger guys, and I've had the fortune to play with a lot of good veterans," Feldman said after he pitched four innings in a 4-3 loss to a split squad of Washington Nationals on Sunday."Really I don't consider myself a big-time veteran or anything like that. I'm still trying to get better and work on stuff, but if I can give young guys like (Jarred) Cosart or (Brad) Peacock advice on things like how to come back from failure, then I will. I think I've probably failed a lot more than them, too."The 31-year-old Feldman is lined up to be Houston's opening-day starter against the New York Yankees on April 1. Without revealing the name Sunday, manager Bo Porter said he probably will make that announcement early this week.The other four pitchers likely to start the season in Houston's rotation have a combined 21 major league victories, 30 fewer than Feldman. None of them won more than six games last season, when Feldman went 12-12 with the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles.Most of his experience came with the Texas Rangers from 2005-2012."I played with a lot of guys I have a lot of respect for and a lot of those guys are still playing today," he said. "They always knew when to joke around and when to let you know to clean it up a little bit."Rookie Steven Souza Jr. homered off Feldman in his first two at-bats Sunday, then tripled in another run in the seventh inning. A strong wind was blowing out to left field where both of the Souza's homers went out."I made some mistakes," Feldman said, "and especially in spring training, you know they're going to go a long way."Gio Gonzalez pitched 4 2/3 innings for the Nationals, giving up one run and three hits.Feldman gave up eight hits and three runs while striking out five in four innings.Peacock, another candidate for Houston's starting rotation, finished the game with four innings of one-run ball. He allowed two hits, struck out four and walked none.Jose Altuve had an RBI double and stole a base for the Astros.STARTING TIMENATIONALS: Gonzalez felt great about covering first base for an out, one of the most fundamental plays for a pitcher. "You joke about it, but on a serious note that's something I was working on for a while simply because it got me out of that inning," he said.ASTROS: Because of rainouts, Feldman started only his second game of the spring. He will get two more starts.NICE IMPRESSIONPeacock had his best outing of the spring after pitching in two minor league games. "I needed a good one, no question," he said. Manager Bo Porter said "it was good to see him have an outing where he was able to use his changeup and be effective with it."ROSTER REDUCTIONThe Astros sent down seven players, most prominently left-hander Rudy Owens, who started two spring games. Houston still has 21 pitchers in camp, and is considering breaking camp with 13.