Harrell ready to get his season started

Harrell ready to get his season started
April 2, 2013, 9:00 am
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Lucas Harrell still feels he has a lot to prove.

The right-handed pitcher will begin his 2013 campaign when he takes the mound for the Astros on Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers. Harrell follows the strong outings of starter Bud Norris and Erik Bedard who combined for an 8-2 win over the Rangers on Sunday night.

Even though Harrell was named the Astros' Pitcher of the Year after going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts last season, he didn't take his success for granted.

“I came to spring training this year thinking there are no guaranteed jobs,” Harrell said. “Bud had the guaranteed job but everybody else was up in the air, so I knew I had to pitch well and I wanted to pitch well. I felt like I really prepared myself well in the offseason.”

That preparation included staying in Houston during the offseason and working with the new staff at Minute Maid Park. Harrell, known for his sinkerball, also spent a lot of time working on his curveball and continuing to locate his fastball down in the zone.

“I throw my curveball some, but it wasn't very good, it wasn't very sharp,” Harrell said. “So, the big thing was, I tried to sharpen it up and make sure I throw it more for strikes.”

The 27-year-old definitely has high standards for himself this season, especially since he is grateful for the opportunity Houston gave him off claiming him off waivers from the White Sox in the middle of the 2011 season. Even though Harrell entered the Astros' spring training last year as a long shot to make the rotation, he eventually worked his way into the starting rotation.

"I felt like God really blessed me by bringing me here from a situation where I wasn't in a good situation with the White Sox," he said. "I kind of got buried over there, and for me to get a chance to come here and get the opportunity, I thank [former general manager] Ed Wade for bringing me over and [current GM] Jeff Luhnow for last year believing in me. They believed in me and gave me that confidence."

Harrell will need that confidence when he faces opposing pitcher Yu Darvish of the Rangers. Last year, Darvish went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA while striking out 221 batters in 191 innings.

"The way I look at it is I'm not pitching against Yu Darvish, I'm pitching against the Rangers," Harrell said. "He doesn't hit. I have to get out all the other guys -- Nelson Cruz, [Ian] Kinsler and [Elvis] Andrus. I look at it more as I'm facing their lineup. And they've got a good lineup, so I'm going to have to definitely be on my game and working with whoever's catching."

First pitch for Harrell as the Astros host the Rangers in the second matchup of a three-game series is Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at Minute Maid Park.