Villar benched by Porter
Astros manager Bo Porter pulled starting shortstop Jonathan Villar in the third inning of Tuesday’s 9-6 loss to the Twins for what the skipper described as an ill-advised base running gaffe with his team trailing, 4-1.
Villar led off the third with a single to left field, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double. Marwin Gonzalez played the rest of the game at shortstop while Villar watched the final nine innings from the bench.
“I learned this a long time ago from Sandy Alomar,” Porter said. “He told me the scoreboard is the most important object on the baseball field. I explained this to Jonathan after the game.”
What did Porter tell Villar exactly: “’I would never want to take your aggression away from you. It’s part of what makes you a special player, but at the same time you have to be aware of the situation that’s going on and what’s the score.’ We have a starting pitcher out there who has basically labored for three innings, we’re down, 4-1, and get the leadoff man on and that’s not a time to take that kind of a chance.”
Earlier this season, Porter benched outfielder J.D. Martinez for swinging at a pitch in a situation in which the hitters had been instructed not to swing. Porter said Tuesday pulling Villar was a “no-brainer.”
“As the umpire was calling him out at second base, I was telling Gonzo to get ready to go to shortstop,” Porter said. “I believe that Jonathan will receive the message properly because him and I talked about it. I think it will help him moving forward.
“He’s young, he’s aggressive and I told him, ‘Your aggression is what allows you to be an impact player. But at the same time, that scoreboard is the most important object on this field and you have to understand there are times when the scoreboard will dictate to you exactly how aggressive you should be.’”
Grossman suffers oblique injury
Astros left fielder Robbie Grossman had to be pulled from Tuesday’s game in the middle of his at-bat in the 12th inning after suffering a strained right oblique while swinging the bat. It’s unclear the extent of the injury.
“It just bit me on the swing,” said Grossman, who went 2-for-5 and is hitting .322 since he was called up for the second time July 28. “We’ll see how it feels [Wednesday] and go from there.”
Astros manager Bo Porter noticed Grossman grimace on the swing and sent assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones to the plate to check on the rookie. Matt Pagnozzi, acquired by the Astros in a trade late Monday, took Grossman’s place in the box and grounded out to end the game.
Grossman said he had a similar injury a few years ago.
“At this stage of the season, you just don’t want to end up having a guy miss a considerable amount of time,” Porter said. “It was best to get him out at that point and allow the trainers to do everything they can to get him healthy.”
Castro has cyst in knee drained
All-Star catcher Jason Castro has a cyst on his right knee drained on Tuesday and doesn’t expect be sidelined long-term.
Castro, who was taken from the game in the second inning Monday following his second hit, was examined by team doctors on Tuesday and diagnosed with a cyst on the medial side of his knee. After having it drained, Castro said he was already feeling better.
“It was kind of interfering with my hamstring tendon based on where it was located,” he said. “They drained it, and hopefully that should provide some relief. We’ll see. It’s just day-to-day, I guess.”
Castro, who missed the entire 2011 season following surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, said he fouled a ball off his knee in the first inning Monday, which aggravated the cyst.
“I think that kind of getting it taken care of and getting it drained out and tended to will solve the problem,” he said. “Like I said, it’s a day-to-day kind of thing. As of right now, it’s feeling OK and the more time we get away from it happening [Monday] the better it feels. As the day goes on, it feels better and better.”
Castro, an All-Star this season and two-time American League Player of the Week, is having a career season, hitting .282 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. He’s the latest in a string of catching injuries for the Astros.
Carlos Corporan suffered a concussion Aug. 19 when he took a foul ball of his facemask, and his replacement, Max, Stassi, was hit in the head by a pitch two days later and hasn’t played since because of a concussion. Corporan could return to the Astros on Monday.