Bidding for rotation spot, Wojciechowski to start Sunday

Bidding for rotation spot, Wojciechowski to start Sunday

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Asher Wojciechowski came to camp among a group of several pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the Astros' rotation, and he's put himself in a good position. So much so that the club will send him to the mound to start Sunday's game against the Nationals in his first Grapefruit League start.

"I'm definitely appreciative and excited to get a start, and will just go out there and compete and have fun and see what happens," Wojciechowski said.

Wojciechowski's early success is in stark contrast to last spring, when he couldn't get on the mound due to a lingering strained lat.

"Last year is behind me, and the injuries and everything and not feeling good," he said. "It definitely feels a lot better this year. I feel a lot more, just, explosive and in tune with my mechanics, and my stuff feels a lot sharper as of right now."

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the Wojciechowski he has seen in camp this year is more indicative of the player he acquired from Toronto in a big deal in 2012, and the one he saw two years ago in Double-A Corpus Christi.

"I'm a big Wojo fan," Luhnow said. "For him to emerge as a legitimate Major League pitcher this year would be fantastic for our organization. I'm hopeful that he can do it in a starting capacity."

Wojciechowski suffered his lat injury throwing in the bullpen prior to Spring Training last year and wound up opening the season on the disabled list. The 26-year-old started for Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 21 and strained a forearm flexor and missed nearly a month.

When he finally got on the mound, Wojciechowski appeared in 15 games (14 starts) at Oklahoma City, and was 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA, including 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA in his final six starts. That set him up to come to camp competing for a spot in the rotation this spring.

"I'm having a good time," he said. "I'm enjoying it, and I feel great out there. It's been a lot of fun so far."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.