KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Houston pitchers and catchers have come to spring training rested and refreshed, all part of the plan for preparing for what closer — and Salt Lake City native — Brandon Lyon calls "an eight-month grind from here on out."
Lyon went 6-6 with 20 saves and a 3.12 ERA in 79 relief appearances for the Astros last year. He started throwing lightly around the first of the year, but he doesn't necessarily recommend it.
"Everybody should figure that out for themselves," he said. "There was a time I didn't know what I needed to do to get ready. You just take bits and pieces from every offseason you've been through, and you work out the best plan for you individually.
"Sometimes you can overdo things, and it's such a long season. You don't want to be breaking down in August and September because you were throwing too much in December," he said.
Manager Brad Mills, who oversaw the first workout Wednesday, said every pitcher is unique.
"You have to kind of separate each individual," Mills said. "The guy that comes to mind when I say that is a guy like Wilton Lopez. We really put a lot on him last year, and he got tired and we had to sit him out for about four games near the end of the season.
"He's a guy that wants to pitch every day, and he wanted to go home to Nicaragua and start pitching. Not that we didn't want him to, but we had to pull the reins back on him. Brett Myers needs to calm down a little bit, but when he needs to get ready, he needs to get ready."
Myers said a key to his best season (14-8, 3.14 ERA last year) was getting away from baseball physically and mentally on days when he did not pitch.
"The other four days, I didn't really think about starting. I didn't let it weigh on me like in the past," Myers said. "I didn't worry about it ... I just wanted to be as far away from baseball as I could and be with my family."
For some pitchers, the same approach works during the offseason — for four months instead of four days. But not for others.
"We have to look at the guys who threw a lot in winter ball," Mills said. "Guys like (Fernando) Abad, Aneury Rodriguez, (Sergio) Escalona. Some have pitched a lot, some not so much, but they're going to be at a different level than some of these other guys."
Lyon did not want to come to spring training at the same level he expects to be at by opening day.
"I've got to build up my velocity and build up my arm strength. I've got to get all that stuff going. That's why we have spring training," he said. "If I came in here ready to go right now, I think I'd be feeling pretty bad in August and September. You've got to build that all up and use this time to prepare for the long season."
NOTES: RHP Samuel Gervacio, who developed shoulder problems last spring, is the only Astros pitcher being held back as camp opens. "Everybody else is a full go," Mills said. ... Owner Drayton McLane reported that nothing is imminent on the sale of the Astros, and noted that it took him six months to complete the process of buying the team in 1992. "And the (selling price) was significantly less than it is today, so it's much more complicated today," McLane said. "It's a big process and we're evaluating a number of different individuals and groups. Something could come about in four to six months or it could be a year or two."
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