Springer excited, looks to improve in Spring Training

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Former first-round Draft picks George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr. have become close friends the last couple of years. DeShields, drafted in 2010, and Springer, drafted in 2011, are roommates during the spring for the second year in a row, but they haven't spent much time together outside of big league camp.

That they were both in the starting lineup for the first time Wednesday against the Blue Jays was something DeShields didn't take for granted. DeShields started at second base and Springer in center field, hitting his first two spring home runs.

Last spring, both Springer and DeShields appeared in only three games each with three at-bats each.

"We've gotten pretty close over the last couple of years," DeShields said. "We haven't had a chance to play together in a season, but hopefully we can this year. To be in the lineup on the big league club, it's a good feeling and I'm very excited that we could one day be playing together with this team."

Springer finished 2012 at Double-A Corpus Christi after putting up huge numbers at Class A Lancaster, and DeShields wound up at Lancaster after an All-Star season at Class A Lexington.

"When those guys come into camp, we want to make sure we give them an extended look," manager Bo Porter said. "If they don't make the ballclub here, we want the whole Major League staff will be able to have their assessment."

Minor League slugger Nash drops weight in offseason

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Telvin Nash, the Minor League slugger who belted 29 homers in 106 games last year at Class A Lancaster, reported to the Minor League minicamp looking like a different man. Nash said he dropped 30 pounds this offseason in an effort to get quicker on the field as well as to improve his overall health.

The 6-foot-1 Nash, who is down to 230 pounds, said he did a lot of running and ate healthier in the winter, which meant more salads and grilled chicken and less fast food.

"I had to make a change for myself," he said. "[The team] preached to me about some things, but really I had to take it upon myself. This is my career and the best way for me to have success is to lose weight. My weight was getting outrageous, so I had to lose weight to show these guys I am really dedicated to baseball and this is what I love to do. If you love the game, you're willing to put in the work to be the best."

Nash, who was limited to 78 games in 2011 because of hand surgery, played mostly left field last year, though he did see time in right. Now that he's lighter, he says he's more explosive on the field.

"I just feel all around much better," he said. "I feel faster at first base and in the outfield when I track balls down. If I'm holding a runner, I can get off the base and make a routine play. ... In the past, a ground ball was hit right at me and it was kind of tough. I made it look much more difficult than it really was. I feel much more explosive, I'm in shape and I'm healthier, too."

J.D. Martinez to be tested in right field this spring

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Astros manager Bo Porter said Wednesday he plans to give J.D. Martinez a good look in right field, a position he has very little experience playing in the Major Leagues. Martinez has played almost exclusively in left field in his career, save for one appearance in right.

The Astros are going to give Chris Carter every chance to win the starting left-field spot, so Martinez needs to expand his resume to get a spot on the club.

"He played a lot of right field coming up and he has a strong arm," Porter said. "He has good range and it also allows us, as the transition takes place, we want to get a look at Carter in field. This allows us to look at him, [Justin] Maxwell and J.D. all in the outfield at the same time."

Martinez played 92 games in right field between Class A Lexington and Double-A Corpus Christi in 2010.

"It's something we're going to look at early on in camp and make sure that it's comfortable," he said. "It gives us other options as far as lineup construction when you face that tough lefty and run three guys out there who can change the game in one swing."

Worth noting

• In the Astros' next turn through the starting rotation, which begins Thursday when Lucas Harrell throws against the Yankees, some of the rotation candidates who pitched in relief the first time out will get starts. That includes Brad Peacock, John Ely and Jarred Cosart.