Who are the Astros' All-Stars?
I would be surprised if the Astros had more than the minimum one representative when the 2009 All-Star Game starters and reserves are announced at 2 p.m. Sunday. No Astros player had a legitimate chance to get voted in as a starter based on the most recent balloting numbers, but shortstop Miguel Tejada appears to be the most likely to make the National League team.
Tejada entered Saturday ranked first in hits in the NL (103) and multi-hit games (32), tied for first in doubles (26) and was fifth in batting average (.329). Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who leads the league in hitting and was leading the NL in voting, appears to be a shoo-in to make the team in some fashion. Neither Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins nor New York’s Jose Reyes were having All-Star caliber years, helping open the door for Tejada to make the team for the second year in a row with the Astros.
Astros outfielders Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee figure to also be in consideration for a reserve spot, and manager Cecil Cooper went as far as to say center fielder Michael Bourn deserved a spot on the All-Star game. Bourn leads the league in steals, triples and infield hits.
“I think I would have at least two guys on there,” Cooper said. “Tejada, for me, should be one, and you can take your pick with one of my outfielders. One of them deserves to be on there. I would probably go with – if I had to pick one of three and I was pushed – I would go with Bourn.
“He’s scored a lot of runs and is leading the league in stolen bases and is hitting .290. Those are All-Star numbers. Hunter’s hitting .300 and is one of the top hit guys probably in the league. He doesn’t have the RBIs like a lot of these guys have, but he’s having an All-Star kind of year, and is Carlos.”
Lee as hitting .300 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs and Pence was hitting .306 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs entering Saturday. A factor that could help the Astros land an outfielder on the team is that two of the three leading vote-getters in last week’s balloting update are injured – New York’s Carlos Beltran and Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez.
Player balloting will determine eight reserve position player and eight pitchers (five starters and three relievers) for both rosters. Eight more selections, including the extra pitcher, will be made by the managers, with input provided from league officials.
“I don’t really pay much attention to it,” Pence said. “It would be nice, but I definitely haven’t had a good week or two and didn’t do what I needed to do. But it would be a great honor.”
Astros manager Cecil Cooper said Saturday he isn’t sure how he will handle his pitching staff for the resumption of Thursday’s suspended game against the Washington Nationals. The game, which was suspended May 5 in Washington tied at 10 in the 11th inning, will resume at 6:05 p.m. Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
LaTroy Hawkins was on the mound for the Astros with a man on first base, but Cooper said another pitcher could be used to resume the game if Hawkins pitches a lot of innings prior to Thursday. Cooper has also said Felipe Paulino could get the ball to resume the game. Paulino, who was rocked for nine runs in two innings Friday, would be pitching on normal rest.
“I’m going to wait until we get home Monday and sit and map it out,” Cooper said.
Russ Ortiz will start Thursday’s regularly scheduled game.
Kenny Baugh, the former Lamar High School and Rice University product drafted in the first round by Detroit in 2001, has been signed by the Astros. Baugh will take Polin Trinidad’s roster spot at Double-A Corpus Christi and start Monday.
Baugh was 6-3 with a 4.52 ERA for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Independent Atlantic League.