Day 40: Wandy struggles again, roster comes into focus
Say what you will about the health of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman and the concerns about young players at shortstop and catcher, but left-hander Wandy Rodriguez means as much to the Astros success in 2010 than anyone.
That’s why the club has to be concerned about Rodriguez, who had a poor spring. He was battered for nine hits and nine runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final Grapefruit League start Thursday against Atlanta, finishing with a 1-4 record and a 12.10 ERA.
“I’m worried because I don’t feel ready and the season’s here,” said Rodriguez, who flew to Houston on Wednesday night to be with his wife, who’s scheduled to give birth to the club’s second daughter on Tuesday.
Rodriguez, who led the team in innings, wins and strikeouts last year, allowed at least three earned runs in five of his six spring outings and never pitched more than four innings. Astros manager Brad Mills said Rodriguez and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg will keep working before he takes the mound Tuesday against the Giants.
“They have to keep moving and working on something,” Mills said. “That first inning seems to be a pretty good bugaboo.”
Roy Oswalt threw 81 pitches in 5 2/3 innings in a Minor League game Wednesday and said he feels ready to go for Monday’s opener. He was caught by J.R. Towles, and Carlos Lee (2-for-7) and Tommy Manzella also played in Minor League games. Manzella got tested on defense and could finally return to the lineup Thursday.
The Astros’ roster is at 25 players after Lance Berkman, Alberto Arias and Yorman Bazardo were placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and non-roster outfielder Jason Bourgeois was told he would begin the season in the Minor Leagues.
Houston has yet to officially announce its roster, so nothing is set in stone. Cory Sullivan, a non-roster outfielder, appears to have won a spot, and manager Brad Mills confirmed Sammy Gervacio has won a spot in the bullpen.
Thus, here’s the roster as it stands now with 25 men:
CATCHERS (2) — J.R. Towles, Humberto Quintero.
INFIELDERS (6) — Geoff Blum, Kaz Matsui, Tommy Manzella, Pedro Feliz, Jeff Keppinger, Chris Johnson.
OUTFIELDERS (5) — Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Jason Michaels, Cory Sullivan.
PITCHING STAFF (12) — Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino, Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon.
DISABLED LIST (3) — Lance Berkman, Alberto Arias, Yorman Bazardo.
Mills also said Bud Norris would start the fourth game of the season, which certainly comes as no surprise.
What happens to the rotation after that is a mystery. The Astros could bring Roy Oswalt back on regular rest Saturday and go with a four-man rotation, or they could give the ball to Felipe Paulino. But Paulino was having a hard time moving Wednesday after suffering from a back spasm.
Here’s the breakdown from Wednesday’s 10-5 loss to the Braves at ESPN Wild World of Sports at DisneyWorld:
The good: Michael Bourn went 2-for-3 and is ending the spring on a hot streak. He has six hits in his last eight at-bats and is hitting .302. Kat Masui went 2-for-4 and is hitting .294, and Pedro Feliz (2-for-4) and Chris Johnson (2-for-3) continued their strong springs.
Johnson, who was told Wednesday morning he had made the Opening Day roster, is hitting .302 this spring and leads the Astros in home runs (six) and RBIs (17).
Brian Moehler, who will start the season in long relief out of the bullpen, threw two scoreless innings and Chris Sampson threw another scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 2.31. Gervacio showed he was human by allowing two hits and one run in one inning.
The bad: Wandy Rodriguez allowed nine hits and nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final spring start. Rodriguez got knocked around all spring, finishing 1-4 with a 12.10 ERA. The Astros have to hope Wandy gets things ironed out before he pitches Tuesday against the Giants.
What they said: “I feel great again, but I don’t know what happened with me. I think maybe my location, but I threw a lot of quality pitches today and some of them they swung badly and they got a base hit.” – Rodriguez.
What’s next: The Astros wrap up Grapefruit League action by playing host to the Detroit Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Casey Daigle, a non-roster invitee who was reassigned to the Minor Leagues earlier this week, will start for the Astros. Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Tim Byrdak and Brandon Lyon are also scheduled to pitch. The game could mark the return of shortstop Tommy Manzella, who hasn’t played in nearly two weeks because of a strained quadriceps muscle.