Multiple arms in running for back end of bullpen

Multiple arms in running for back end of bullpen

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch is still undecided about whether he'll carry one or two left-handers in the bullpen. Lefty Tony Sipp has a job secure, while Kevin Chapman, Joe Thatcher and Darin Downs are vying for what's likely to be one spot on the Major League roster.

Thatcher, an eight-year veteran who appeared in 53 games last year between the D-backs and Angels, has impressed early in camp. He would have to be added to the 40-man roster if he makes the club, though.

There are five spots in the bullpen that are set: right-handers Chad Qualls, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Josh Fields and Sipp, the lefty who posted a 3.38 ERA in 56 games for the Astros last year. Houston will carry seven relievers, so that leaves two remaining spots.

"Sipp's on the team, Thatch has thrown well and has some experience," Hinch said. "Chapman is still in the mix, Will Harris is throwing the ball very well. Samuel Deduno, if he doesn't make the rotation, is an option. We're going to get another look at Jake Buchanan and Alex White. There are options and different ways we can go, but that will be one of the later decisions."

Hinch said he's going to take the best options for those final two spots regardless of which hand they throw with.

"I think you have to earn your way on the team," he said. "It's a nice luxury to have when you have multiple [lefties]. Some guys have three, some guys have one. There's been constructions before where there's none. That won't be the case with us. We're going to take a long, hard look at what a roster construction looks like with one or multiple. But it's not a definite either way."

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.