10 Astros players relish Opening Day assignments

HOUSTON — Friday was a little more special for the 10 Astros players who were making their first appearance on an Opening Day roster: second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielders J.D. Martinez and Brian Bogusevic, catcher Jason Castro and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and pitchers David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Fernando Rodriguez, Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell.

“Opening Day is a big day,” said Martinez, who was called up last July. “I used to go to Opening Day in Miami and it was a big, big game. That was the game to go to. I’m just excited to be part of it now and I’m the guy standing on the field now instead of being in the stands.”

Carpenter, who pitched in 34 games in his Major League debut last year, relished the chance to be on the Opening Day roster and get introduced before the fans.

“I’ve heard so much about it,” he said. “Guys talk about how great Opening Day is and to get to see it firsthand is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be butterflies like there was the first time I got the chance to take the mound here. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Perhaps no one was more excited than Cruz, a hard-throwing pitcher taken in the Rule 5 Draft last December. He had never played above Double-A prior to the Astros plucking him away from the Mets.

“I felt so excited when they told me for the first time I had made the team,” he said. “I’m still working hard and trying to help the team all the time.”

– Brian McTaggart

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