News and Notes:
- mlb.com's Astros notes: including history maker J.D. Martinez, Jed Lowrie's return from injury, and their thoughts and impressions of the new Marlins Ballpark
- The Houston Chronicle has more on Jed Lowrie's return.
- new owner Jim Crane is learning on the job, but he has big plans for his Astros
- Is Wandy Rodriguez a staff ace... ready or not he is for the Astros
- Look at that, a member of the Astros' payroll receiving a World Series ring.
St. Louis Cardinals:
- Friday's home opener and all the festivities at Busch Stadium was delayed by rain. I guess it's okay to rain on the Cardinals' parade.
- Yeah... not sure I buy this.
- Third baseman David Freese, who is off to a hot start on the young season, was scratched from the line-up for Saturday afternoon's game.
- First baseman Lance Berkman is likely to be out of action for the remainder of the series against the Cubs due to a lingering left calf injury.
- Center Fielder Marlon Byrd isn't helping his or the Cubs' cause early in the year. His struggles and slow start have made him that much less intriguing as potential trade bait.
- Not all is bleak in Wrigley as potential help is on the way.
- Imagine the craziness when the Cubs are the ones doing the celebrating.
- With the new faces making up the Cubs' rotation, consistency is all they are looking for from the back end guys.
- Charlie Morton made his 2012 MLB debut Saturday night against the Giants after beginning the year on the disabled list due to offseason surgery.
- In a related note the Pirates have designated infielder Matt Hague to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Morton on the 25-man roster.
- True, the offense hasn't been great (or even good), but, in their defense, they have faced some terrific starting pitchers.
- Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon had a fine start for Class-A Bradenton Friday night.
- Pedro Alvarez: such a frustrating player.
- The Pirates' offense isn't the only one in the NL Central to get off to a slow start.
- Miguel Cairo was forced to leave Saturday's game due to a reported left hamstring strain.
- Reds notes: featuring Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, the entire bullpen, and a line-up shake up.
- Manager Dusty Baker pegs Phillips to return to action for today's game against the Nationals in the series finale in Washington.
NL Central standings through Saturday's games:
The Brewers look to avoid the sweep at the hands of the Braves and send Chris Narveson to the mound. The Braves counter with young righty Brandon Beachy. Game time in Atlanta is 12:35 p.m. CDT.
Houston will wrap up their series in Miami with a game against the Marlins at 12:10 p.m. CDT. The Astros will send J.A. Happ to the mound and will oppose Anibal Sanchez who will take the ball for the Marlins.
The Cardinals and Cubs play the rubber game of their three game set in St. Louis at 1:15 p.m. CDT. Jake Westbrook and Paul Maholm are the probable starters.
The Pirates and Giants will finish their series in the City by the Bay with a game scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CDT. Kevin Correia is scheduled to start for the Bucs. Ryan Vogelsong is scheduled to make his first regular season start for the Giants after beginning the year on the disabled list for San Francisco.
Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds will take on Ross Detwiler and the Washington Nationals in the series finale in Washington. Game time is set for 12:35 p.m. CDT.