Notes: Three work past minor issues

Notes: Three Astros have stiffness

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Two days into Spring Training, Astros pitchers and catchers appear to be getting through workouts without any physical setbacks, although a few are experiencing some minor aches and pains.

On Saturday, manager Phil Garner mentioned three players are dealing with minor shoulder stiffness: Brad Ausmus, Chad Qualls and Hector Gimenez.

Ausmus' ailments aren't keeping him from participating in any morning workout drills, but he admitted he first noticed the ache in his shoulder in December.

"I couldn't even lift my arm over my shoulder for a while," Ausmus said. "I couldn't scratch my back. It wasn't any particular incident. The doctor said, 'You could have slept on it wrong.'"

Ausmus visited with the Astros athletic trainers in January when he was in Houston for the team's baseball dinner. They gave him some exercises to do during the final weeks of the offseason, which appear to have helped.

"It was probabliy tendinitis, just some inflammation," Ausmus said.

Gimenez first noticed his ailment while playing winter ball in Venezuela.

"I was catching and somebody tried to steal second and I tried to get him out, and it pinched me," he said. "Now, I feel better. When I was there [in Venezuela], it was worse. Now I feel like I'm 90 percent ready. We'll see if in the next couple of days, I can get to 100 percent and get into a game."

Wedding bells: Garner will leave the Spring Training routine in the very capable hands of bench coach Cecil Cooper and special assistant Matt Galante on Sunday while the skipper is celebrating the wedding of his daughter, Bethany.

"Cecil's in charge," Garner said. "Matty's the adviser. The staff knows what they're doing. It's good, it runs without me."

Bethany Garner, Phil and Carol's only daughter and the middle of their three children, is marrying Bill Ribbing at Disney World on Sunday. The destination spot was picked for sentimental reasons -- it's where Bethany and Bill met seven years ago, when they both worked for Disney.

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Garner, whose two sons are married with children, said he's not nervous for this wedding, nor is he getting caught up in the sentimentality issue of "giving away" his only daughter.

"We've always raised them to a point where they spread their wings and fly, and jump out of the nest," Garner said. "They've all done that."

The time has come: One of the main reasons general manager Tim Purpura felt comfortable trading Willy Taveras was because of Chris Burke, a future second baseman looking for a position.

Burke, a former No. 1 draft pick and projected leader of the ballclub, will eventually take over Craig Biggio's spot when the 20-year veteran's playing career is over. Until then, Burke needs a position, and after watching him play in the outfield over the last couple of years, Purpura felt comfortable handing Burke the center field duties.

"He had to play," Purpura said. "That was one of my commitments that I made in my mind, that we had to find a place for Chris Burke to play. And it's not a knock on Willy, but I think Chris will be a better offensive player."

Rally the troops: Club owner Drayton McLane dropped by the Astros clubhouse Saturday morning to shake hands with the pitchers and catchers as well as meet with the Major League coaching staff.

McLane will leave Florida on Sunday, but will be back on Wednesday for a longer stretch of time.

"Drayton was in good form," Garner said after their meeting. "It was a pep talk."

Freezing: With temperatures continuing to hit record overnight lows in central Florida, Garner set a 10 a.m. ET start time for the workouts Sunday and Monday, as he did Saturday. Normally, players are instructed to be in uniform by 9 a.m.

The cold snap appears to be nearing an end, however. Temperatures are expected to hit the upper 70s by the middle of the week.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.