Notes: Moehler helps cause in win

Notes: Moehler helps cause in win

TAMPA, Fla. -- After two consecutive below-average outings, Brian Moehler needed to have a strong showing in his final Grapefruit League start Wednesday night in Tampa.

Facing most of the New York Yankees regulars, Moehler was tested by one of the most feared lineups in the American League. And he passed.

The right-hander held the Yankees to two runs on six hits over six innings in a game the Astros won easily, 12-2.

This doesn't guarantee anything for Moehler. A non-roster invitee competing for the fifth-starter spot in the rotation, the 35-year-old veteran probably won't know where he stands until the Astros set their roster following Saturday's game with the Royals.

But Moehler's performance Wednesday certainly didn't hurt his case.

"It was a good test," manager Phil Garner said. "It was their 'A' squad, it's the end of Spring Training, they're tuned up and ready to go. He had a nice ballgame."

Moehler shifted the praise to the defense, which made several outstanding plays behind him. He kept the rest of his comments general.

"It's always good to face a team like that and see where you are," Moehler said. "We hit the ball and made some good plays.

"Whatever happens is going to happen. There's nothing I can do about it. It's out of my hands."

Game to remember: Tommy Manzella is likely ticketed for Double-A Corpus Christi this season, but he received a taste of the good life Wednesday when he started at shortstop and played all nine innings during the Astros game with the Yankees.

He helped turn three double plays and was 1-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs while making sure he didn't get too starry-eyed by the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and company.

"The funny thing is, I've seen these guys on TV a bunch," Manzella said. "I should have paid attention because I really don't know where to play them. I guess I wasn't think about that when I was watching."

Of the experience of playing against one of the most powerful lineups in baseball, Manzella said, "It gives a glimpse of what the goal is."

Progress for Lidge: Garner missed Brad Lidge and Rick White's appearances in a Minor League game Wednesday, but the reports he received from those who were there were extremely favorable.

"I missed Lidge and White, and if you would have blinked, you would have missed them," Garner said.

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That's because Lidge threw 11 pitches in his inning of work in a Double-A game, and White was even more efficient, throwing six pitches in his inning. Lidge struck out two and did not allow any hits.

"Everybody that saw Lidge, and Lidge himself, said that's the best he's thrown all spring," Garner said. "He feels great. [Brad] Ausmus said he was throwing better than he has, by far, all spring."

Over eight appearances in Major League spring games, Lidge's numbers haven't been good. He has allowed 11 earned runs over eight innings for a 12.38 ERA.

But Garner feels the closer is making progress in the areas that needed to be addressed this spring.

"I'm not looking at simple results," Garner said. "I'm looking at mechanics and that's what he's doing. That's why it's starting to come around for him now."

Garner missed Lidge's outing because he was watching Roy Oswalt, who allowed one run on four hits over four frames in a Triple-A game. Oswalt walked two and struck out two.

White, who was temporarily sidelined with a strained groin last week, could be cleared to pitch again in Round Rock on Thursday. He may also appear in Saturday's game with the Royals at Minute Maid Park. Lidge is also slated to appear in the exhibition game in Round Rock.

Jimerson released: Soon after outfielder Charlton Jimerson was outrighted to Double-A Corpus Christi on Monday, he asked the Astros where he stood in terms of regaining a starting job at Triple-A Round Rock. General manager Tim Purpura and assistant GM Ricky Bennett were upfront with their response -- the outlook wasn't good.

"We've obviously got three good young players at Triple-A [Hunter Pence, Josh Anderson, Mike Rodriguez] and he might get limited time there or Double-A," Purpura said.

Jimerson then asked the club to trade him, and when those attempts didn't bear fruit, Jimerson asked for and was granted his release.

The Astros also made three other minor moves Thursday, placing right-hander Brandon Backe and catcher Hector Gimenez on the 15-day disabled list and releasing Minor League left-hander Kelly Wunsch, who spent the spring attempting to make a comeback after having surgery on his left shoulder last August.

The Astros Spring Training roster stands at 29 players, including 26 roster players and three non-roster invitees.

Purpura does not expect to make any more cuts until the conclusion of the exhibition series with the Royals on Saturday.

Coming up: The Astros have a split-squad in Florida on Thursday, with Fernando Nieve facing the Tigers' Kenny Rogers at 12:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland. At Triple-A Round Rock, Jason Jennings will start against right-hander Chance Douglass. That game begins at 6:05 p.m. CT.

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