Ed Wade on Paulino, Mier and another drug suspension

Felipe Paulino, the barrel-chested right-hander with the 98-mph fastball and little ability to throw it for strikes, is back with the Astros, and based on the comments made by general manager Ed Wade on Wednesday it appears Paulino better get things ironed out soon.

Paulino is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA this year at Triple-A Round Rock, but he’s been an enigma at the Major League level since he made his debut with six scoreless innings on the final day of the 2007 season. He’s 4-7 with a 7.24 ERA in 20 career Major League games (14 starts), including 2-6 with a 7.28 ERA this year.

“I think Felipe needs to take advantage of every opportunity he gets to stand 60, 6 inches away from Major League hitters,” Wade said. “He’s got to show that he’s prepared to take advantage of these opportunities. He needs to give us a clear signal going into Spring Training next year that he’s prepared to win a job and hold it for the entire season and help us win.

“He’s got the stuff to do it. It’s not too late, but he’s got to step up and take advantage of this. We see the stuff, but it’s got to come out in whatever role he’s given for the remainder of the season. Right now, it’s a bullpen role.”

When Paulino was sent down Aug. 8, the Astros told him to work on his fastball command. He’s been used in relief and as a starter, and Wade said when he hits Kissimmee next year he better be ready to win a spot. Wade said the careers of Paulino and Fernando Nieve with the Astros were at “high noon” at Spring Training this year, and Nieve was soon cut loose.

“Aside from being out of options, when you’re as big and physical and with the tools Felipe’s got, you want to see it manifest itself on a regular bases from the standpoint of success,” Wade said. “He certainly needs to understand this is the best opportunity he’s going to get for a while and to make the most out of it.”

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Astros general manager Ed Wade returned Monday from a tour of some of the Astros’ Minor League clubs, including short-season Tri-City, rookie-league Greeneville and the new Gulf Coast League team in Kissimmee, Fla.

Wade saw three games in Tri-City and was impressed with left-hander Dallas Keuchel, a seventh-round pick from Arkansas in this year’s Draft. At Greeneville, he lauded the left side of the infield – third baseman Jonathan Myer (third round pick in 2009) and shortstop Jiovanni Mier, the Astros’ No. 1 pick.

Mier is hitting .286 with five homers, 25 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage in 39 games.

“All indications are this kid is everything we hoped he would be from standpoint of ability, instincts, athleticism, makeup and leadership qualities,” Wade. “One of our guys was having a conversation and trying to make a point to one of our Latin players down there that had minimal English-speaking ability, and Jiovanni stepped right in and took control of the conversation and interpreted for him. We’ve heard a lot of stories like that about him.”

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Left-hander Gabriel Garcia, who was playing for the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League (Rookie), was suspended 50 games Wednesday after testing positive in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone.

Garcia is the third Minor League player in the Astros’ system this year to receive a 50-game suspension, joining Mitch Einertson at Double-A Corpus Christi and pitcher Felix Ramirez of the Dominican Summer League. Einertson tested positive for a drug of abuse, and Ramirez for Boldenone.

MLB guidelines for “drugs of abuse” stipulate that a player’s first positive test is not subject to an announcement or penalty, while a second violation carries a 50-game ban. Performance-enhancing drug violations, however, carry a 50-game suspension for a first offense.

“I’m always concerned about it,” general manager Ed Wade said. “We try to educate the players as best as we can to avoid being put in those positions, and I think we’ve done a good job with that . Any player who tests positive is making a mistake, so I’m certainly not justifying what anybody has done or what other circumstances develop within our organization.

“That said, I think our numbers are below average for the 30 clubs. But again, as an industry we have to get to a point of zero players testing positive for any type of substances and having zero tolerance for it. If you see enough of your teammates missing 50 games, unless you’re a little dense, the message should be getting through.”

1 Comment

I’m surprised Wade didn’t mention the second baseman at Greeneville, Jose Altuve. So far he’s hitting .324 with a .408 OBP and 21 stolen bases in just 45 games.

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