HOUSTON -- The Astros and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment announced Tuesday a multi-year agreement to continue their partnership, moving game broadcasts up the dial to KBME (790 AM) in Houston, an all-sports station that will carry all Astros regular-season and Spring Training games.
The first game scheduled to air on KBME is the Astros' Feb. 23 Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Houston will make its American League debut on March 31 against the Rangers in the first regular-season game on KBME.
"We're very pleased to be in business with Clear Channel," Astros president and CEO George Postolos said. "They're a great promotional partner and we enjoy doing business with them. I think an all-sports format can be attractive because the sports fans are already there. We also look at the Rockets being there as a positive because we're going to have the same destination for television and radio, and we think there's some synergy there."
The one issue facing the Astros switching dials is KBME has a much weaker signal than the team's former home, KTRH (740 AM), especially in some outskirts of the city and at nighttime.
"We have a great radio network, and radio stations are happy, eager to pick up that signal," Postolos said. "We may have a little additional work to do north of Houston or west of Houston, but we already have a broad network and we think we'll be in good shape there."
Of course, the Astros have yet to announce their radio broadcast team for 2013, and Postolos said an announcement will come soon.
Optimistic Porter weighs in on Lowrie trade
HOUSTON -- In watching shortstop Jed Lowrie get traded to the Oakland A's on Monday, Astros manager Bo Porter lost what would have been one of his biggest offensive weapons for 2013. As difficult as that was, getting three young players -- two of which could help the club this year -- made it a deal the Astros couldn't refuse.
"At the end of the day, when you have an opportunity to make your team better, it's something you have to take advantage of," Porter said.
In exchange for Lowrie and relief pitcher Fernando Rodriguez, the Astros acquired power-hitting first baseman Chris Carter, right-handed starting pitcher Brad Peacock and Minor League catcher Max Stassi. Carter and Peacock have been added to the 40-man roster, and Stassi will be at Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Porter was the third-base coach of the Nationals when Peacock made his Major League debut for Washington in 2011. Peacock went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings with Washington that year after going a combined 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 25 appearances at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.
"I watched this guy go through the Phillies' lineup pretty effectively when he came up in September," Porter said. "I had an opportunity to meet him that September. He's a very poised, confident pitcher, and I really think he was a good piece to get back in this trade."
Porter returns favor, congratulates Parcells
HOUSTON -- One of the first people to send a message to Bo Porter to congratulate him for getting the managerial job in Houston last year was former NFL coach Bill Parcells. So when Parcells found out last weekend he was being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Porter was glad to be able to congratulate him, too.
The two have more in common than their football backgrounds (Porter played football at the University of Iowa). They met in Jupiter, Fla., when Parcells would come to Spring Training to spend time with close friend, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Porter was with the Marlins, who share the same facility as the Cardinals.
"He's a great mentor and I was extremely happy for him and he was extremely happy for me," Porter said. "He's going to do everything he can to support me."
Porter, who leaves for Kissimmee, Fla., on Wednesday, plans to have dinner with Parcells on Friday night before playing a round of golf on Saturday. He said Parcells may just be a frequent visitor to Osceola County Stadium this spring.
"Now that Tony is retired, I guess he figured he would join Bo in Spring Training," Porter said. "He loves to be around the game. We would talk behind the cage when he could come to the Cardinals' facility, and he was one of those guys that was in my ear, telling me [becoming a manager] was something I can do. When I got the opportunity, he was one of the first people to congratulate me. It's an honor to have him as a friend and a mentor."
CSN Houston to televise 10 Astros spring games
HOUSTON -- The Astros will have 10 of their Spring Training games televised live this year on Comcast SportsNet Houston, a regional network partnership between the Astros, the NBA's Houston Rockets and the NBC Sports Group that launched Oct. 1. The games will have pre- and post-game shows.
Astros Spring Training coverage on CSN Houston includes games against 10 different opponents from both the American and National Leagues. Nine of the 10 televised games will be played at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., while one will be the March 29 exhibition game at Minute Maid Park against the Cubs.
The first 2013 telecast will be on Feb. 28 against the Yankees (noon CT). CSN Houston will also debut a new edition of Astros Field Pass, the team's monthly magazine show, on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. CT.
Grapefruit League games set to air on Comcast are: Feb. 28 (Yankees), March 1 (Cardinals), March 7 (Nationals), March 8 (Braves), March 10 (Phillies), March 15 (Pirates), March 17 (Blue Jays), March 24 (Marlins) and March 25 (Nationals).
CSN Houston is currently only available in about 40 percent of the Houston TV market. The Astros are involved in negotiations to get the network carried on other providers, such as DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse. The Astros own about 46.5 percent of the network.
Astros president and CEO George Postolos is confident the CSN Houston will have higher penetration in the market prior to the start of the regular season.
"CSN Houston is a great product," Postolos said. "We think eventually those things are going to get worked out in a way that favors the customer."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said all the spots in the bullpen are "up for grabs," but said veterans Jose Veras and Wesley Wright are guaranteed spots on the Major League club. … Luhnow said newly acquired Chris Carter will get plenty of time in left field, saying it's easier to play defensively at Minute Maid Park than some other ballparks. Carter's also capable of playing first base and designated hitter. … Luhnow said he "wouldn't hesitate" to sign another relief pitcher or middle infielder in free agency, but said he feels good at this point about the 60 players coming to camp. ... A report by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal on Tuesday said Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris was "drawing interest" on the trade market. Luhnow said while meeting with the media Tuesday morning that no moves were imminent, but it wouldn't be surprising if the club traded Norris considering the direction it's headed.