Wright progressing, Matsui slumping and September call-ups
Astros left-hander Wesley Wright is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Sunday before going out on a Minor League rehab assignment to Triple-A Round Rock. Wright has been on the DL since Aug. 12 with a left shoulder strain that is the result from arm fatigue.
“I’m doing whatever I can to get my legs in shape until my arm gets back to where it needs to be,” Wright said. “It’s close and I’m ready to give it some games and see how it reacts. I’m just ready to get back on the mound. This year has been a long, frustrating one for me.”
After going 4-3 with a 5.01 ERA in 71 appearances in his rookie year in 2008, Wright is 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA in 33 games this year. He’s been shuffled between Round Rock and the Astros after spending all of last season in the Major Leagues, and he was even wheeled out of Wrigley Field on a stretcher last month after suffering from dehydration.
“I had heard about the sophomore slump or jinx or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “As an athlete, you try not to believe in those things, but perhaps. I was sitting here watching TV and I saw the [2008 National League] Rookie of the Year [Geovany Soto] is hitting .217. Baseball is a game where you constantly have to made adjustments. That’s what I’m in the progress of doing.”
Kaz Matsui was back in the lineup Saturday with hopes of breaking out of a 1-for-25 slump, including no hits in his last 14 at-bats. He entered Saturday hitting .235, but has been especially poor from the left side of the plate. He’s hitting .222 left-handed and .290 right-handed.
“His left-handed swing has not been there,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “He has not had the good left-handed swing. He has not had the patience he normally has left-handed. As a matter of fact, he looks like a different hitter left-handed than he looked a year ago.”
Matsui hit .293 in 96 games in his first season with the Astros last year, batting .291 right-handed and .294 left-handed. He was on the disabled list three different times, but has managed to avoid the DL but one time this year. Saturday marked his 95th game.
Cooper said he will continue to play Matsui.
“The guy can do so many things for us,” Cooper said. “When he does get on, he can run. He’s one of the two or three guys we have that goes first to third without any problems. We have to keep him healthy and give him time off and hopefully in these last few games he finds his swing because we need him to be an offensive force for us as a left-handed hitter.”
Don’t expect the Astros to have a flurry of September call-ups when the rosters can be expanded to 40 players on Sept. 1. Astros general manager Ed Wade believes in calling up players who are going to play a role on the team and doesn’t believe in using the call-ups as a reward.
The Astros already expect to get back injured pitchers Doug Brocail and Wesley Wright, along with rehabbing infielder Aaron Boone.
“Whether it’s playing defense or pinch-running or pinch-hitting, you have to fill a need,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “Or maybe be a guy that’s a good situational pitcher that comes in.”
Among those likely to be called up is catcher J.R. Towles, who is recovering from an injury and might not be ready. Most teams like to add a third catching option for September. But don’t expect Chris Johnson and Tommy Manzella to get a call. Not only are they unlikely to get playing time, but they will begin to accrue Major League service time when recalled.