Astros GM Tim Purpura appears to be willing -- for now -- to go into spring training with Luke Scott as the potential starting right fielder, as he cannot bring himself to part with closer Brad Lidge in an exchange for offense, most notably a standing offer for Red Sox slugger Wily Mo Pena.
Richard Hidalgo, 31, whom the Astros originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in 1991, will provide competition for the job, along with the hot and cold (mostly cold) Jason Lane, 29. But Scott, 28, clearly has the inside track, having hit .336 with 10 homers in 214 at-bats last year.
Until a more attractive offer comes along, Lidge remains the closer, though he could get an early hook in favor of Dan Wheeler or Chad Qualls. The availability of Wheeler and Qualls continue to make Lidge -- whose ERA ballooned to 5.28 last year -- tradeable. But the club has yet to receive an offer deemed worthy of Lidge's value.