May 2010

Norris relieved shoulder not damaged

Astros pitcher Bud Norris was relieved to learn Friday he had no major complications with his shoulder after undergoing an examination and an MRI. Norris got a cortisone shot and was placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, but he told MLB.com from Houston the news was as good as could be expected.

“I’m happy to a certain degree,” Norris said. “I want to be out there helping my team, but it’s something that’s been bugging me off and on and I have to give credit to the Astros for getting me checked out. There was a lot of fluid in there and I got a cortisone shot, but the MRI didn’t show any labrum or rotator cuff damage, which is a relief. They’re very happy about that. It’s a much better idea to nip it in the bud and get back out there when the time is right.”

Norris, who is 2-5 with a 6.80 ERA this year in nine starts, said the shoulder as been bothering him at different times during the season, but he wasn’t about to make any excuses.

“It’s been bothering me off and on,” Norris said. “As a starting pitcher, you have to know when to pitch through it and when you can’t. Sometimes I felt good out there and sometimes not so great. I haven’t been getting the best results, so it was good to get it checked out.”

Norris can come off the disabled list June 8 at Colorado.
 

 

Norris to miss next start

Right-hander Bud Norris will miss his next scheduled start Saturday in Cincinnati after being diagnosed Thursday with biceps tendinitis. The Astros have yet to announce who will take Norris’ spot in the rotation.

Norris (2-5, 6.80 ERA) reported to head athletic trainer Nate Lucero on Thursday morning complaining of right shoulder soreness and is expected to return Houston soon to be examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner.

Norris has pitched beyond the fifth inning in only one start this year, an eight-inning gem against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 13. In his most recent start Sunday, Norris struck out a career-high 10 batters and gave up six hits and five runs (four earned) in five innings in a no-decision against the Rays.

Right-hander Brian Moehler, who hasn’t pitched since Sunday, could be put into the rotation. Moehler has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this year but has started 55 games the past two seasons for the Astros.
 

Lineup juggled for finale against Brewers

The Astros will try to win their first road series since sweeping the Cardinals on May 11-13 when they take on the Brewers in today’s series finale. Brett Myers (3-3, 3.25 ERA) tries to keep his good run to start the season going against Dave Bush (1-5, 5.59 ERA).

Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz are out of the lineup in favor of left-handers Cory Sullivan and Geoff Blum (switch-hitter). Astros manager Brad Mills said Bush has pitched better against right-handers, and Lee has especially struggled against Bush, hitting .200 (4-for-20). Feliz is a .176 hitter (2-for-17) against Bush, while Blum is hitting .357 and Sullivan .333.

If the Astros are going to keep pace with their record at this point in the season during their 2005 World Series run, they will have to lose today to fall to 16-31.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn

2B Jeff Keppinger

RF Hunter Pence

1B Lance Berkman

3B Geoff Blum

LF Cory Sullivan

SS Tommy Manzella

C Kevin Cash

RHP Brett Myers

BREWERS

2B Rickie Weeks

CF Carlos Gomez

LF Ryan Braun

1B Prince Fielder

3B Casey McGehee

RF Corey Hart

C George Kottaras

SS Alcides Escobar

RHP David Bush

Oswalt put on a show Wednesday

Roy Oswalt contends he’s not thinking at all about his recent trade request, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise. He made his first start Wednesday since news of the trade request became public and he pitched like a man trying to impress potential suitors.

Oswalt ran his string of quality starts to begin the season to 10, putting him one shy of the club record. He held the Brewers to four hits — three doubles and a single — and struck out nine batters. Oswalt fanned each spot in the Brewers’ batting order once.

The Astros might be more reluctant to trade Oswalt than his desire to be dealt, and the price will be steep. With each quality start Oswalt piles up, he becomes a hotter commodity, if that’s even possible. He’s pitching some of the best ball of his career at this point and he’s healthy, so there’s plenty of reasons teams will want him.

Plus, he’s Roy Oswalt. The track record speaks for itself.

Finding a team that can afford him and would be suitable enough for Oswalt to waive his no-trade clause will be a challenge, and frankly the thought of him not pitching in this rotation is a little scary. That being said, the way Oswalt is pitching and considering he wants out, Astros fans need to enjoy each and every one of his upcoming outings, especially if they are anywhere as good as he was against the Brewers.

Berkman dropped to fifth in order

The Astros will try to break a six-game road losing streak by sending ace Roy Oswalt (2-6, 2.66 ERA) to the mound tonight against the Brewers, who start left-hander Chris Narveson (4-1, 5.17 ERA). Lance Berkman is hitting fifth in the order for the first time since June 27, 2009. He’s hit third 19 times and fourth 12 times this year.

It’s Oswalt’s first start since it became public he wants the Astros try to trade him, but the 32-year-old right-hander said Tuesday it will be business as usual.

Oswalt has produced a quality start in each of his previous nine outings this season, the
most to start a season since Roger Clemens began the 2005 season with nine consecutive. The last Astros pitcher to produce 10 consecutive quality starts to begin a season was Bob Knepper in 1988, and the franchise record is 11 in a row to start the year.

The Astros are hitting .218 on the road this year.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn — Went 0-for-4 on Tuesday to snap eight-game hitting streak

2B Jeff Keppinger — This will be his 28th start at 2B, which sets a career high

RF Hunter Pence — Hitting .317 with 5 HRs, 13 RBIs, last 15 games

LF Carlos Lee — Hitting .159 in last 12 games

1B Lance Berkman — Needs two walks to be 17th switch-hitter to reach 1,000 in career

3B Pedro Feliz — His .171 batting average in May is a career low for the month

C Humberto Quintero — Has hit safely in 12 of last 14 games with a plate appearance

SS Tommy Manzella — Has reached base safely with hit or walk in 10 of last 11 games

P Roy Oswalt — His 15-20 record in May is the only month in which he has losing record

BREWERS

2B Rickie Weeks

CF Carlos Gomez

LF Ryan Braun

1B Prince Fielder

3B Casey McGehee

RF Corey Hart

C George Kottaras

SS Alcides Escobar

P Chris Narveson

Astros lineup Tuesday vs. Brewers

The Astros are 9-6 against teams in their division this year and begin a six-game stretch against NL Central foes tonight when they battle the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Felipe Paulino (0-6, 5.36 ERA) will pitch against former Astros lefty Randy Wolf (3-4, 5.10). Wolf is the ninth left-handed starter the Astros have faced this year and the second in a row. Houston is 3-5 against lefty starters.

Paulino is riding a six-game losing streak and is the first Astros pitcher to begin 0-6 since Chris Holt in 1999. His run support average of 2.58 is the fourth-lowest in the Majors this year, and he has the lowest run support in the past two seasons at 2.52. That’s more than a half run lower then the next pitcher on that list, Kenshin Kawakami of Atlanta. The Astros have lost eight of his nine starts.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn

2B Jeff Keppinger

1B Lance Berkman

LF Carlos Lee

RF Hunter Pence

2B Pedro Feliz

C Humberto Quintero

SS Tommy Manzella

P Felipe Paulino

BREWERS

2B Rickie Weeks

CF Carlos Gomez

LF Ryan Braun

1B Prince Fielder

3B Casey McGehee

RF Corey Hart

SS Alcides Escobar

C Jonathan Lucroy

P Randy Wolf

Where will Oswalt wind up?

First and foremost, Roy Oswalt wants to be dealt to a winner. He doesn’t want any part of a team in last place — New York Mets — or a younger up-and-coming club that likely won’t contend for a year or two. Oswalt feels he’s running out of time and he wants to win. Now.

So where will he wind up after asking last week the Astros trade him? Oswalt is in the fourth year of a five-year, $73-million contract that is paying him $15 this year and will pay $16 million next year. That’s a lot of money and a sum that few teams will be able to take on. Finding a team in contention, that can afford that money and has the prospects the Astros want to trade for will make it that much more difficult.

The Atlanta Braves are an interesting option. They began the year with an $84 million payroll and are 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. The Braves have some great young players in Jason Heyward, Tommy Hanson and Brian McCann and some veterans like Chipper Jones who are vying for one more ring. They also have a strong farm system and would be able to pony up some prospects, not to mention it’s close to Oswalt’s home in Mississippi.

The St. Louis Cardinals, currently tied for the NL Central lead with Cincinnati, certainly won’t sit tight if they’re in trouble of making the playoffs and would love to add Oswalt to a rotation that already includes Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. But would the Astros be willing to trade Oswalt within in the division? That’s risky.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are interesting options on the West Coast, but the Dodgers’ unstable ownership situation clouds things. Can either team afford Oswalt’s salary at this point? The Minnesota Twins might have some interest, but their payroll already took a huge jump this year with the signing of Joe Mauer, and I really can’t see Oswalt pitching in Minnesota.

Perhaps the first-place Cincinnati Reds will trade for him just so they don’t have to face him anymore.

And now for the giant elephant in the room. What about the Texas Rangers? That would seem to be the best fit. The Rangers’ Minor League system is loaded, they are in first place, Oswalt would be reuinted with Nolan Ryan and it would allow him to stay relatively close to home. But…

The Rangers’ ownership situation remains unstable, and pitching in the heat of the summer sun in Arlington is sure to take its toll. Besides, remember how unpopular it was the last time the Astros allowed an ace pitcher to go to the Rangers (Nolan Ryan in 1989)?

The bottom line is trading Oswalt isn’t going to be easy, but it’s almost a necessity at this point for the club. The team has acknowledged he wants a trade and Oswalt has said he wants to play for a winner. Now it’s just a matter of where and when. 

 

Bourn to serve one-game suspension

Astros center fielder Michael Bourn will serve a one-game suspension and miss Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays after settling his appeal of the discipline he received from Major League Baseball for his actions in a game May 8.

Bourn may be in uniform and participate in the team’s pre-game routine, but MLB rules will prohibit him from being in the dugout or clubhouse when the game begins. Bourn can watch the game from the stands or suite level, but is not permitted in the press box or television/radio broadcast areas.

Bourn was originally suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount for his aggressive actions, including making contact with umpire Alfonso Marquez, during a game against the Padres in Houston. He was appealing the suspension.

The suspension will be served on a day the Astros face Rays left-hander David Price (6-1, 1.81 ERA). Bourn is hitting .288 with a league-leading 15 stolen bases this year, but he’s batting just .227 against left-handed pitchers. Jason Michaels started in center field Sunday. <p>

Oswalt speaks

Roy Oswalt had some very interesting things to say in his first comments since the club admitted he had requested a trade. Click here for full story: http://bit.ly/dbKhJ0

Astros lineup Saturday vs. Rays

The Astros try to make it two in a row over the best team in baseball Saturday when left-hander Wandy Rodriguez takes the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeff Niemann, a 6-foot-9 right-hander who’s a Houston native and led Rice to the 2003 College World Series title, will make his first pro start in his hometown.

Here are the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn .289-0-5

2B Jeff Keppinger .281-0-17

1B Lance Berkman .220-4-13

LF Carlos Lee .199-5-16

RF Hunter Pence .250-6-17

3B Pedro Feliz .209-1-13

C Humberto Quintero .243-1-4

SS Tommy Manzella .192-1-6

P Wandy Rodriguez .333-0-1

RAYS

SS Jason Bartlett .248-1-22

LF Carl Crawford .306-3-20

2B Ben Zobrist .299-1-20

3B Evan Longoria .323-9-37

1B Carlos Pena .190-5-19

CF B.J. Upton .224-5-19

RF Gabe Kapler .250-1-7

C Dioner Navarro .184-0-2

P Jeff Niemann .000-0-0

 

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