'Hungry' Astros open Spring Training for repeat World Series bid

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Astros Spring Training 2018: Verlander says AL 'runs through us' (KTRK)

Three-and-a-half-months after the final out of the World Series, the current kings of Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros, officially began Spring Training, with pitchers and catchers opening the preseason camp.

In the offseason, the Astros locked up their ace Dallas Keuchel on a one year, $13.2 million contract, while adding another starting caliber arm, former Pittsburgh Pirate Gerrit Cole.

Despite Cole's addition, the 'Stros are keeping a starting rotation that supported a World Series run in tact. Justin Verlander is locked up for another two seasons in Houston. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. are back after clutch performances in the postseason.

And to help the fledgling bullpen, Houston added 33-year-old righthander Joe Smith from the Cleveland Indians.

The biggest talking point of day one came from Keuchel, who despite only getting a one-year contract, told media that there hasn't been any negotiations for a long-term pact in the offseason. In the same breath, Keuchel added that there probably won't be any talks during the season either.

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Keuchel also remarked on the length of the offseason, observing that the layoff was short. However, given the outcome of last season, he would prefer a short offseason.
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Gerrit Cole talked about his excitement being on a team that played amazingly in the World Series. He would know. Cole was at Game 2 in Los Angeles for the 'Stros big comeback.

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Cole is also seeing the opportunity to start fresh with the Astros. He talked about not having to shoulder the load alone in this rotation.

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With a nod to the Astros' season-long motto of "Never Settle," McCullers talked about the overall hunger of every member of the club, including Verlander and the reigning AL MVP, Jose Altuve.

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And with prognosticators already giving an edge to last year's ALCS foe, the New York Yankees, Justin Verlander told reporters, "Not so fast."

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Follow Greg Bailey on Twitter and Facebook for updates from West Palm Beach throughout Spring Training.

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