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Thursday, January 22, 2004
Williams sets pitchers before spring training

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Tim Redding was picked Thursday to become Houston's No. 5 starter, joining a stellar rotation that includes Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller.

"I've made this decision and this is where we're going to start," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "I'm not going to go into spring training like we did last year with four guys trying to get the fourth and fifth spots in our rotation."

Astros pitchers and catchers report to spring training at Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 21.

Redding competed with Jeriome Robertson for the final spot in spring training last year. When the Astros cut Shane Reynolds, both got berths.

"I'm happy to get a chance to verify myself for the good year I had last year," Redding said. "I understand the tough decision they made to make me the fifth starter."

Redding went 10-14 with a 3.68 ERA last season, and Robertson was 15-9 with a 5.10 ERA. The Astros averaged 5.5 runs in Robertson's 32 starts and 3.8 runs in Redding's 33 starts.

Williams will wait until spring training to announce who will start the April 5 opener against San Francisco.

"I want to be in the same area code and zip code with those pitchers when we let it be known who's going to be the opening-day starter," Williams said. "We've got four guys who have been opening day starters. You could put them in a hat and reach in and take out one guy and they'd all be good opening day pitchers."

Robertson and Brian Duckworth, obtained from the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, will compete for bullpen jobs.