KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Houston Astros leave Florida hoping to bounce back from a pair of dreadful seasons.
The Astros ended the Florida portion of their exhibition schedule by hitting four home runs in an 11-4, split-squad win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
Prospect Jonathan Singleton hit two home runs, and Jason Castro and Rick Ankiel also homered for the Astros.
``I'm extremely confident,' new manager Bo Porter said. ``You'd rather be in this position than have a spring where you're trying to figure out whether they can hit or not. We believe we have 25 quality major league baseball players.'
Preparing for their first season in the AL, the Astros have 46 homers in 32 spring training games - 17 more than last year - boosted by the additions of Ankiel (four), Carlos Pena (four) and Chris Carter (six). They were 21st in the major leagues with 146 during the regular season in 2012.
``Of our two goals this offseason, one was the rotation depth and the second was to get more thunder in our lineup, and I think we're seeing the results of that right now,' general manager Jeff Luhnow said. ``I don't think it's a fluke. I think we're going to see more home runs at Minute Maid from our team than we did last year.'
The pitching rotation was rounded out with Thursday's announcement that Brad Peacock will pitch the fourth game of the regular season and Erik Bedard will pitch the fifth, both against Oakland.
Facing the A's will be a thrill for the 25-year-old Peacock, who was on his way to Arizona to train with them on Feb. 4 when he learned he was traded to the Astros.
``I turned right around and started heading back to Florida,' Peacock said. ``I know a lot of those guys over there. Two of my best buds are on that team, but I didn't have as good a chance as I did here. This is a great opportunity for me.'
He has two major league starts, both with Washington in 2011.
Peacock's starting assignment means Alex White will be in the bullpen as a long reliever, although Porter said the competition for starting spots will continue all season.
``I'm excited about making the team and feeling a part of this organization,' White said. ``Peacock pitched really well. He deserves that fourth spot, and I'm getting an opportunity in the pen.'
Philip Humber, Houston's No. 3 starter behind Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, allowed four runs - all unearned - and six hits in six innings. Most of the damage came on Prince Fielder's three-run homer.
Detroit's Anibal Sanchez gave up nine runs and 11 hits in five innings, including three homers. He has allowed 13 runs in his last two starts over 11 innings following three scoreless outings.
The Associated Press News Service
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