Game 33: So long, Kissimmee
The Astros’ final day in Kissimmee proved to be rather busy. They made a trade to acquire infielder Joe Inglett, they said goodbye to Rule 5 pitcher Lance Pendleton and they nearly got into fisticuffs in an 8-4 loss to the Tigers. Perhaps these boys are ready for the regular season to start.
Click here for Inglett’s bio. You may remember him. He hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth off Matt Lindstrom to help beat the Astros last year in Milwaukee, and he lined a pitch of Bud Norris’ shin last year.
Click on the links above for more information on those stories, but here’s the game recap:
What went good: The Astros banged out 10 hits, with Carlos Corporan and Oswaldo Navarro both going 2-for-4 (Navarro, a non-roster invitee, was told after the game he wasn’t going to make the team, along with Ross Wolf). Jason Michaels went 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter, Michael Bourn went 1-for-4, Carlos Lee was 1-for-3, Bill Hall was 1-for-2, Tommy Manzella was 1-for-3 with a triple and a hard lineout and Angel Sanchez had a pinch-hit single.
Jeff Fulchino solidified his case to make the team by throwing a scoreless inning, allowing one hit.
What went wrong: Wandy Rodriguez struggled mightily with command in his final start of the spring Sunday, allowing six hits, four walks and five runs in three innings while throwing 90 pitches in a the Tigers. He went 0-3 with an 8.04 ERA in five starts and missed a rotation turn with mild shoulder tendinitis.
“My arm feels strong,” he said. “I tried to make quality pitches and I missed a lot. You could see today in the game I had a lot of walks. That’s my big problem today. I feel strong and tried to throw too hard, and that’s my big mistake.”
Manager Brad Mills said it was a matter of not being able to locate his fastball.
“We had a good talk afterwards and he felt he was real strong and couldn’t command his fastball and that’s not him,” he said. “When he’s able to command his fastball, it makes all his other pitches better. We’ve all known that about him for years.”
Jose Valdez gave up two runs and one hit, including a homer to Miguel Cabrera, in his one inning of work, and Ryan Rowland-Smith allowed three hits and one earned run and was victimized by poor defense when two players converged on a ball and both stopped to let it get past them.
The benches empited in the sixth when Valdez threw an inside pitch to Victor Martinez the pitch after Cabrera’s home run. The players ran onto the field, but there was no pushing or shoving or punching.
Said Valdez: “He talked back to me like, ‘You tried to hit me.’ He was trying to get in my head.”
Said Martinez: “It was a pitch that I didn’t think was with good intentions.”
Said Mills: “I have no idea why Victor got really excited there. The ball wasn’t that close. It was low and in and he just backed away. There was absolutely nothing there.”
At the plate, Matt Downs (.261 spring average) went 0-for-4 and Hunter Pence (.339) was 0-for-3.
What they said: “We’re trying to see if there are left-handed opportunities, and right now if you look at the way we’re set up you’ve got Anderson Hernandez as a switch-hitter and J.B. Shuck as a left-handed hitter in the mix. We think that with Inglett’s experience and the fact he’s succeeded in that role in the past it made sense to bring him in and give us a little bit more to consider putting the final roster together.” — Astros general manager Ed Wade on Joe Inglett.
What’s next: In their final Grapefruit League game of the season, the Astros travel to Clearwater, Fla., to meet the Philadelphia Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT. Bud Norris will face off against Cliff Lee in a game that will mark the Houston debut of infielder Joe Inglett, who was acquired in a trade with the Rays on Sunday.
Injury update: C J.R. Towles is still nursing a stiff back and didn’t play Sunday. … IF Angel Sanchez is also dealing with back issues, but he came off the bench and had a pinch-hit single.
Here are the healthy players remaining in camp, with my roster predictions in bold:
Pitchers (16) — Fernando Abad, Gustavo Chacin, Enerio Del Rosario, Nelson Figueroa, Jeff Fulchino, J.A. Happ, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Aneury Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jose Valdez and Henry Villar.
Catchers (3) — Carlos Corporan, Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles.
Infielders (8) — Matt Downs, Bill Hall, Anderson Hernandez, Joe Inglett, Chris Johnson, Tommy Manzella, Angel Sanchez and Brett Wallace.
Outfielders (6) — Jason Bourgeois, Michael Bourn, Carlos Lee, Jason Michaels, Hunter Pence and J.B. Shuck.
Here are the photos from the final day of workouts/games at Osceola County Stadium: