August 2011

Astros’ lineup for Saturday

The Astros will try to tie their season-high winning streak of four games by sending this lineup against the Giants on Saturday:

2B Jose Altuve

CF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Jimmy Paredes

SS Clint  Barmes

RF Jason Michaels

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Jordan Lyles

Take BP at Minute Maid and help a great cause

If you’d like a chance to take batting practice at Minute Maid Park in late September, all the while helping out a great cause, then this is something you can’t miss.

The Candlelighters, a charity that directly meet the needs of families who have a loved one undergoing cancer treatment, are recruiting teams to play in a charity baseball tournament later this month at Baseball USA. The top 15 fundraisers will take batting practice at Minute Maid Park in late September

If you are not playing in the Candlelighters one-day baseball tournament you may register to raise money for Candlelighters as a non-playing participant.  The top three overall fundraisers not playing in the tournament will also earn an opportunity to take batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

A minimal donation per individual of $500 is needed to qualify for batting practice.

Anyone can go to the website and register and then send out their personalized website/link to all of their friends. Friends can contribute with small pledges, and if you raise enough money, you’ll get a chance to take batting practice.

Visit for more details.

Springer headed to Houston, but talks to first

Astros first-round draft pick George Springer, who signed with the club late Monday for a $2.525 million bonus, will meet the Houston media as a group for the first time Friday when he has a press conference at Minute Maid Park before taking batting practice on the field.

This will be Springer’s second visit to Houston – the first coming earlier this month when he was in town for a few hours to undergo his physical. Prior to meeting with the media as a whole, Springer was gracious enough to grant his third interview with since being drafted.

“I’m extremely excited to get going and move forward and 100 percent relieved that’s it’s done,” Springer said of the signing. “I can just strictly focus on playing baseball.”

Springer, 22, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. The center fielder will begin his career at Tri-City, but not before spending a few days at the Astros’ Spring Training facility in Kissimmee, Fla.

“I’m just looking forward to getting in and getting started and to compete for a job,” he said.

Considering his age, his tools and the Astros’ track record of moving players quickly through the system, it’s not a stretch to think Springer could be getting his feet wet at the Major League level late next year. The Astros’ center field position has opened up substantially since the team traded Michael Bourn last month.

Instead of competing with a two-time Gold Glove winner and an All-Star, he’ll eventually be in the mix with Jason Bourgeois, Jordan Schafer, Jay Austin and Austin Wates. Springer isn’t putting any kind of timetable on his path to the Majors, but he did make one promise.

“I’m a player that will play as hard as I can possibly play day in and day out,” he said. “I like to have fun, but I will play hard and do whatever I have to do to win.”

Springer instantly becomes one of the top Minor League prospects in an Astros’ Minor League system that has been infused with young talent in the last month with the trades of Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Bourn. With talent like Springer, Jared Cosart and Jonathan Singleton leading the way, the next crop of young talent could be hitting Houston soon.

“Hopefully down the road some of these young players will hopefully be in their primes and propel the Astros to where they want to be, which is on top of the division and competitive for the foreseeable future,” Springer said.

Before Springer hung up the phone, I jokingly reminded him he wouldn’t need a jacket for his trip to Houston, which has seen 100-degree-plus temperatures for 19 consecutive days.

“That’s unbelievable,” he said.

Thank goodness for the roof.

Astros lineup Wednesday against Cubs

Here’s the Astros lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Cubs:

CF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Matt Downs

3B Jimmy Paredes

RF Brian Bogusevic

SS Clint Barmes

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Bud Norris

Astros sign Springer, Armstrong

The Astros got their men late Monday night, signing first-round pick George Springer and third-round pick Jack Armstrong, announcing the deals just after the 11:01 p.m. CT deadline. Springer got a $2,525,000 bonus, and Armstrong signed for $750,000, according a person with knowledge of the situation.

“This was a contentious day, but at the end of it we got the two prime guys we set out to get over the last couple of months,” Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said. “At the end of the day, we knew both kids wanted to play.”

Springer, 22, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. He will likely begin his career at Tri-City.

“He stayed in shape,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We had a chance when he came in for his physical the other day to see him firsthand, and he’s in pretty good shape. I’m sure he’s going to be able to bounce back and do whatever we ask.”

Armstrong, 21, appeared in 13 games for Vanderbilt, going 9-1 with a 2.65 ERA while striking out 17 batters in 17 innings. The 6-foot-7 right-hander spent his summer pitching in the Cape Cod League to re-establish his value after injuries slowed him down in college this spring.  He’s the son of former Major League pitcher Jack Armstrong Sr.

“It was a full family decision, just talking with my dad and mother and my brother and sister,” Armstrong told via phone. “It was the right time, the right fit and the right people. I’m excited to get my professional career going and I think it’s with the right organization.”

The Astros signed 35 of their top 50 picks this season, including their top 13 selections.

Astros’ lineup against Cubs

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Cubs:

CF Jason Bourgeois

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Matt Downs

RF Brian Bogusevic

SS Clint Barmes

C Humberto Quintero

RHP Henry Sosa

Astros’ lineup and preview for Thursday

Astros right-hander Brett Myers (3-12, 4.76 ERA) tries to snap his career-long, six-game losing streak tonight in the finale of a four-game series against the D-backs at Chase Field. Myers leads the team and is 13th in the NL with 153 innings pitched, having thrown at least six innings in 53 of his 57 starts with the Astros since the start of last year.

Arizona counters with left-hander Joe Saunders (8-9, 3.67 ERA).

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

CF Jason Bourgeois — Returns to the lineup after being out Wednesday. He’s hitting .103 (4-for-39) since July 30.

2B Jose Altuve — Has hit safely in 16 of his 20 Major League games and has started 15 of the Astros’ last 16 games.

LF J.D. Martinez — Has 11 RBI in his last seven games and has hit safely in seven of his 11 games.

1B Carlos Lee — Hitting .148 in August.

3B Jimmy Paredes — Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases.

RF Jason Michaels — He’s 2-for-11 with two walks in his career against Arizona starter Joe Saunders.

SS Clint Barmes — Hitting .315 in 36 games since Hune 26 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs.

C Humberto Quintero — Hitting .324 durig his current career-long 10-game hitting streak.

RHP Brett Myers — Has quality starts in seven of his last 10 starts.


Armstrong in Houston for physical

Astros third-round draft pick Jack Armstrong, a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt University, was in Houston on Thursday afternoon to undergo a physical. Armstrong’s summer team was eliminated from the Cape Cod League playoffs on Wednesday.

Bobby Heck, the Astros assistant general manager/director of player scouting, said he expects negotiations between Armstrong and the club to begin once the results of the physical are known. Armstrong is being advised by his father, former Major League pitcher Jack Armstrong Sr.

“Once we have the results back from the physical, which we think will be fine, we’ll start exchanging numbers at that point time, which has been the dad’s desire all along – to start negotiations when Jack’s done playing,” Heck said.

The physical is key because Armstrong had slight back and groin issues during his junior season at Vanderbilt. More recently, he felt some elbow tenderness pitching in the Cape a few weeks ago, but it’s not expected to be a concern. Armstrong would have started a game tonight for Yarmouth-Dennis had it not been eliminated.

“I saw him throw after that setback and the arm looked plenty healthy to me,” Heck said.

Heck expects negotiations with first-round pick George Springer, an outfielder from the University of Connecticut, to pick up this weekend. Heck has been engaged with Greg Genske, Springer’s advisor, the last two days and expects the negotiations to continue until Monday’s 11 p.m. CT deadline.

Astros lineup and notes

Astros’ rookie-laden starting lineup for Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, including some notes. Right-hander Henry Sosa was called up from Triple-A following Tuesday’s game to make the start in what will be his Major League debut. He’ll be the ninth Astros player to make his debut this year.

Here is the lineup:

CF J.B. Shuck — Has reached base safely in four of the five games in which he’s played.

2B Jose Altuve — Has hit safely in 15 of his 19 games and has started 14 of the Astros’ last 15 games.

LF J.D. Martinez — Is the only Astros player and the fifth player in MLB history to hit four homers and have 12 RBIs in his first 10 career MLB games.

1B Carlos Lee — Hitting .174 in August.

RF Brian Bogusevic — Hit his first career homer last night in his 65th career game.

3B Jimmy Paredes — Has reached base safely in six of his seven Major League games.

SS Clint Barmes — Hitting .280 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 43 road games.

C Humberto Quintero — Enters the game with a career-high nine-game hitting streak.

RHP Henry Sosa — In in his only start with Triple-A Oklahoma
City, tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing fivehits and three walks.


Downs not happy with strike call

Versatile Astros infielder Matt Downs was fit to be tied following Tuesday night’s 11-9 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field. Downs struck out with runners at second and third base in the ninth inning and believed he had drawn a walk on a 3-1 pitch that was inside and called a strike by CB Bucknor.

“The 3-1 I thought was a ball way, way, way, way in and I came back and looked at the video and the ball is not just a ball off the plate, but real inside,” Down said. “It changes the game completely when you go from 3-1, walk to 3-2 and a strikeout. I get tired of umpires going back to the hotel and smoking their cigars and thinking they did a good job on the night and I have to go back on a failure after I feel like I walked 3-1 instead of punching out out 3-2. Some kind of action has got to be taken on a bonehead called like that.”

Downs asked Bucknor if the ball was inside.

“I said ‘I think that ball’s in,'” he said. “He told me if I didn’t swing next time it would be a 3-2 strikeout. So he told me it was a strike all the way, a great pitch. After looking at the film, I realize it was not.”

Downs would like to see umpires held more accountable for their calls.

“My stats are put in the paper every day and everybody knows if I fail or succeed,” he said. “I think some kind of action has got to be taken to where we realize if the guy’s blown a call or not and he’s held accountable.”