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Newest Astro Rodriguez does well in close victory

Houston Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez catches a pop-up against the Washington Nationals on Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla. Rodriguez signed a one-year contract with the Astros on Friday.

Houston Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez catches a pop-up against the Washington Nationals on Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla. Rodriguez signed a one-year contract with the Astros on Friday.

Ivan Rodriguez caught on right away in his Houston Astros debut, while Ricky Nolasco and the Florida Marlins turned in a Grapefruit League no-hitter.

Playing his first game with his new team, Rodriguez stroked a single to center field in his initial at-bat and helped Houston to a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The Astros plugged Rodriguez into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and the 14-time All-Star catcher finished 1-for-3 at the plate in Kissimmee, Fla.

“I feel good out there,” he said. “I’m just trying to get used to my new teammates, and so far it was good. I was very pleased with the way I played today and the way our team played.”

After waiting all winter to land a job, Rodriguez finalized a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Astros on Friday. He can earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses.

Houston starter Brian Moehler enjoyed his first game with Rodriguez behind the plate.

“He mixed the pitches up well. We seem to be on the right page,” said Moehler, who threw three hitless innings before leaving with a bruised pitching shoulder.

“I know it’s difficult for him because he hasn’t caught these guys before. It’s a learning experience for him as well as us.”

Moehler left the game as a precaution after he was hit on the right shoulder by Ryan Zimmerman’s line drive. He doesn’t expect to miss any starts.

A 13-time Gold Glove winner, the 37-year-old Rodriguez will use the rest of the spring as a cram session to learn the ins and outs of Houston’s pitching staff.

“Communication is very important,” he said. “I’ve already talked to some of the starters and the other guys, and we’re pretty much on the same page. I want to be the guy to make their work easy, from every starter down to the bullpen.”

John Lannan threw six shutout innings for Washington, allowing four hits.

Nolasco was even better, combining on a no-hitter with Dan Meyer and Leo Nunez in Florida’s 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland, Fla.

Nolasco struck out eight over seven innings and faced the minimum 21 batters. He walked Ramon Santiago leading off the first and hit Jeff Larish with a pitch in the second, but the runners were erased on double plays and Marlins pitchers retired Detroit’s next 22 batters.

“It’s obviously something cool to be a part of. It’s something we do want to accomplish as the game goes on when you see you’ve got that opportunity,” Nolasco said.

Meyer and Nunez each pitched one inning. Nolasco returned from running to watch Nunez get the final two outs and the save.

Meyer said there wasn’t any talk of the no-hit bid in the bullpen.

“There’s some pretty superstitious guys in baseball, and some aren’t, but it’s kind of an unspoken thing,” he said. “Even though it’s spring, it’s still a special thing to be a part of. I think it’s great.”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it was the first spring training no-hitter he has witnessed in nearly a half-century in baseball.

Detroit’s Justin Verlander gave up two hits in five scoreless innings.

In other news:

• Right-hander Gavin Floyd and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $15.5 million, four-year contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2013.

• Milwaukee is preparing to open the season without new closer Trevor Hoffman, a former Arizona Wildcat, because of a strained muscle on his right side.

• Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton likely will miss the start of the season. Upton is coming off shoulder surgery, and he has a bruised hand after being hit by a pitch during a minor league spring training game.

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