January 2014

New video board at Osceola County Stadium

Fans attending Spring Training games this year will have an improved experience at Osceola Count Stadium, where a video board has been added in right-center field. I was able to swing by the stadium following the Winter Meetings last month and took these photos of the new board. Thanks for the folks at Osceola County Stadium for firing it up for me.

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Astros, Izturis agree to Minor League deal

The Astros added some depth to their infield mix Monday by agreeing with Cesar Izturis to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, CBS Sports.com reported.

Izturis, 33, has played with nine teams in his 13-year career, spending 2013 with the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared in 63 games and hit .209 in 129 at-bats while splitting time between primarily second base and shortstop.

The switch-hitter won a Gold Glove with the Dodgers in 2004 and made his only All-Star appearance a year later. He’s a career .254 hitter with 17 homers and 312 RBIs in 1,310 games. In addition to adding some depth, Izturis gives the Astros a veteran to work with starting second baseman Jose Altuve, who’s also from Venezuela, and shortstop Jonathan Villar.

The Astros also have Venezuelan infielder Marwin Gonzalez coming back this year and capable of playing shortstop and second base. Izturis has spent most of his career at shortstop, but he also played second, third and made a few appearances at first.

Biggio HOF statement

“Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Obviously, I’m disappointed to come that close. I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year.”

Perez leaves Astros

Eduardo Perez, who served last season as the Astros bench coach and was set to be their third base coach this season, will not return to the team in 2014. Perez told the Astros last week he was resigning to spend more time with his family.

Pat Listach, who was hired last year to coach first base, will move to third base. The Astros are interviewing for a first-base coach and have offered the job to Tarrik Brock, though nothing is final. He was the Marlins’ Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator.

Perez joined the Astros prior to last season as manager Bo Porter’s bench coach, but was set to move to the third-base box in ’14. Dave Trembley, who was the third-base coach last year, will be the bench coach this year.

Following last season the Astros named Brent Strom pitching coach, Craig Bjornson as bullpen coach and Ralph Dickenson as assistant hitting coach. Listach was hired to coach first, but will move across the diamond to third in the wake of the Perez departure.

John Mallee is returning as hitting coach for the second year.

Astros notes

Some Astros notes…

Porter, Strom visit with Castro

Astros manager Bo Porter and pitching coach Brent Strom returned Monday night from California, where they had spent a day with catcher Jason Castro.

“We were trying to get a head start on Spring Training and really get a sense of his thoughts about the pitching staff and kind of give him some guidelines and some things to think about now and then so we get ahead and not wait until we get in Spring Training to address a lot of things we want to address,” Porter said.

Porter said Castro, who missed the final three weeks of the last season after having a cyst removed from his knee, looked great.

“His workouts are going great and he has no limitations,” he said. “My main goal in mind is making sure he gets through camp healthy and he’s ready to go on Opening Day.”

Moylan adds depth to Astros bullpen

In case you missed it, veteran right-hander Peter Moylan has been added to the Astros bullpen mix.

Moylan, an Aussie who spent last year with the Dodgers after several good seasons with the Braves, has signed a Minor League contract with an invitation for Spring Training. He joins Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Anthony Bass and Raul Valdes as newcomers to the bullpen this year.

Moylan, 27, is 21-9 with a 2.80 ERA in 309 career games with the Braves (2006-12) and Dodgers, but he’s battled injury problems in recent years. He appeared in 80 games for the Braves in 2007 with a 1.80 ERA and 87 games in 2008 (2.84) and 85 games in 2009 (2.97).

“We’re going to have not only an experienced bullpen in Houston, but we’re going to have some guys in Oklahoma City that have some big league service time that are ready to step up if we have any opportunities,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We definitely added depth, not only at the big league level but at Triple-A.”

Astros Caravan to return later this month

The 2014 Astros Caravan will hit the road Jan. 20 to “raise the flag over Astros Country” at over 30 stops throughout Houston, central and south Texas, Oklahoma City and Louisiana.

The 31-city circuit consists of four simultaneous tours in seven days with stops in the Houston area (Jan. 20 – 24), San Antonio (Jan. 21 – 22), Lake Charles, La., Baton Rouge, La. and Lafayette, La. (Jan. 21-22), Austin (Jan. 23 – 24),  Brownsville and McAllen (Jan. 26 – 27) and Oklahoma City (Jan. 27).

At each Caravan stop, fans and local ambassadors will help Astros players and staff raise a flag over the cities that make up “Astros Country” as the team gears up for Spring Training and the 2014 season. The locations of each flag raising ceremony will be released in the coming weeks.

The fan outreach tour will also highlight the club’s charitable interests including youth baseball and softball, support for the U.S. military and at-risk youth.  Astros players, alumni and front office staff will visit schools, hospitals and military bases throughout the week, as well as conduct baseball and softball clinics. There will also be several opportunities for fans to get autographs from Astros players at select Academy Sports and Outdoors stores.  A list of stops is available at www.astros.com/caravan.

Current players and front office representatives joining the tour include President of Business Operations Reid Ryan, General Manager Jeff Luhnow, Astros manager Bo Porter, Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, Astros TV and radio broadcasters Alan Ashby, Bill Brown, Francisco Romero and Alex Trevino, and Astros players Matt Albers, Jose Altuve, Anthony Bass, Chris Carter, Jason Castro, Kevin Chapman, Jarred Cosart, Matt Dominguez, Josh Fields, Robbie Grossman, Lucas Harrell, L.J. Hoes, Marc Krauss, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Chad Qualls, Brett Wallace and Josh Zeid. Astros top prospects Mark Appel, Michael Foltynewicz and George Springer will also be on the tour, joining Astros alumni Kevin Bass, Art Howe, J.R. Richard, Carl Warwick  and Jimmy Wynn. Please note that all players and front office staff are subject to change.

Astros FanFest will cap off the week-long Caravan at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with baseball-themed activities including current and former player autograph sessions, batting practice on the field, running the bases, bullpen throwing sessions, an interactive kids zone, fan forums with front office staff and current players and a vendor expo. Additionally, there will be mechanical bull riding, a rock climbing wall and several other activities for fans of all ages. The majority of FanFest proceeds will benefit The Astros Foundation’s programs for at-risk children and teens.

Details :

Monday, January 20th

Katy and Sugar Land

Josh Fields, Kevin Chapman

Houston Methodist West Hospital Cancer Center

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             18500 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77094

•             Open to all media

Lake Jackson and Angleton

Brett Oberholtzer, L.J. Hoes

Lake Jackson Volunteer Fire Department

•             9:15am-10:15am

•             10 Oak Dr, Lake Jackson, TX 77566

•             Open to all media

Whataburger Appearance

•             3:00pm-4:00pm

•             1120 N Velasco St., Angleton, TX 77515

•             Open to all media and public

Houston

Lucas Harrell, Bo Porter, Jimmy Wynn, Milo Hamilton

Urban Youth Academy MLK Service Day

•             9:00am-11:30am

•             2801 South Victory Drive, Houston, TX 77088

•             Players and Astros front office staff will repair fields, install fencing and take part in other

                general improvements to the facility as part of MLK Service Day

•             Open to all media

Houston Methodist Research and Technology Facility

•             1:30pm-2:30pm

•             6670 Bertner Ave, Houston, TX 77030

•             Open to media

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             3:00pm-4:00pm

•             2404 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77098

•             Open to all media and public

Cypress

Robbie Grossman, Matt Dominguez, J.R. Richard

H-E-B

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             28550 U.S. 290, Cypress, TX

•             Open to all media and public

Cy-Hope Clinic

•             2:00pm-3:00pm

•             15301 Cypress North Houston Road, Cypress, TX  77429

•             Open to all media

 Chick-Fil-A

•             3:45pm-4:45pm

•             25835 Highway 290, Cypress, TX 77429

•             Open to all media and public

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:15pm-6:15pm

•             19720 Northwest Freeway, Jersey Village, TX  77065

•             Open to all media and public

Tuesday, January 21st

San Antonio

Jose Altuve, Mark Appel, Art Howe, Bill Brown

Raise the Flag Ceremony at the Alamodome

•             11:00am-11:30am

•             100 Montana St, San Antonio, TX 78203

•             Open to all media and public

Whataburger

•             12:00pm-1:30pm

•             4590 Northwest Interstate 410 Loop, San Antonio, TX 78228

•             Open to all media and public

Methodist Children’s Hospital

•             2:00pm-3:00pm

•             7700 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229

•             Open to all media

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:00pm-6:00pm

•             2024 N. Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, TX 78232

•             Open to all media and public

Alvin and Houston

Brett Oberholtzer, Josh Fields, Milo Hamilton

Whataburger

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             2305 Texas 35, Alvin, TX 77511

•             Open to all media and public

East End Little League Clinic at Diez Park

•             3:45pm-4:45pm

•             1818 Dumble, Houston, Texas 77023

•             Open to all media

 Lake Charles

Anthony Bass, Josh Zeid, Brett Wallace, Steve Sparks

Chick-Fil-A

•             2:15pm-3:15pm

•             3435 Nelson Rd, Lake Charles, LA 70605

•             Open to all media and public

Coushatta Tribe Visit

•             4:30pm-5:30pm

•             TBD Address

•             Open to all media

Pearland and League City

Jarred Cosart, Bo Porter, Robert Ford

Pep Rally at Clear Creek High School

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             2305 E Main St, League City, TX 77573

•             Open to all media

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:15pm-6:15pm

•             2804 Business Center Drive, Pearland, TX 77584

•             Open to all media and public

Wednesday, January 22nd

San Antonio

Jose Altuve, Mark Appel, Art Howe, Bill Brown

Intrepid Center Visit

•             10:00am-11:30am

•             3851 Roger Brooke Drive, San Antonio, TX 78234

•             Open to all media

Luncheon at Stonewerks hosted by UTSA

•             12:00pm-1:00pm

•             999 East Basse Road, San Antonio, TX 78209

•             Open to all media

San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Basketball game

•             7:00pm-9:00pm

•             1 AT&T Center Parkway, San Antonio, TX  78219

•             Open to all media (per Spurs media access guidelines)

Galveston and Texas City

Brad Peacock, Kevin Chapman, Jimmy Wynn

U.S. Coast Guard Visit

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             1 Ferry Road, Galveston, TX 77550

•             Open to all media

 Luncheon at Landry’s Fish Tales with Sunshine Kids

•             11:30am-1:30pm

•             2502 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, TX 77550

•             Open to all media

Baton Rouge and Lafayette

Anthony Bass, Josh Zeid, Brett Wallace, Steve Sparks

Luncheon with Rotary Club of Baton Rouge

•             11:45am-1:15pm

•             9625 Fenway Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70809

•             Open to all media

Visit with LSU Baseball Team

•             2:00pm-3:00pm

•             3357 Highland Rd, Baton Rouge, LA  70802

•             Open to all media (per LSU media guidelines)

Conroe and Huntsville

Robbie Grossman, L.J. Hoes, Michael Foltynewicz, Kevin Bass

U.S. Army Reserve

•             9:00am-10:00am

•             4724 South Pkwy, Conroe, TX 77303

•             Open to all media

Pep Rally at Sam Houston State University

•             2:30pm-3:30pm

•             1905, Huntsville, TX 77340

•             Open to all media and public

Thursday, January 23rd

Austin

George Springer, Jason Castro, Alan Ashby

RBI Dinner at the For the City Center

•             7:00pm-9:00pm

•             500 E. St Johns Ave, Austin, TX 78752

•             Open to all media

Victoria and Rockport

Chad Qualls, Marc Krauss, Chris Carter, J.R. Richard, Milo Hamilton

Pep Rally with U of H Baseball Team

•             11:00am-12:00pm

•             3007 N Ben Wilson St, Victoria, TX 77901

•             Open to all media

Rockport-Fulton High School Pep Rally

•             2:30pm-3:30pm

•             1801 Omohundro Street, Rockport, TX 78382

•             Open to all media

 K-Bob’s Steakhouse

•             5:15pm-6:15pm

•             2405 Highway 35 N, Rockport, TX 78382

•             Open to all media

Beaumont

Josh Fields, Lucas Harrell

Buckner’s Children’s Services

•             2:00pm-3:00pm

•             9055 Manion Drive, Beaumont, TX 77706

•             Closed to the media and public

Chick-Fil-A

•             3:30pm-4:30pm

•             4050 Dowlen Road, Beaumont, TX 77706

•             Open to all media and public

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:00pm-6:00pm

•             7130 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77708

•             Open to all media and public

College Station/Bryan and Brehnam

Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, Robert Ford

BlueBell Headquarters

•             4:00pm-5:15pm

•             1101 S Blue Bell Rd, Brenham, TX 77833

•             Open to all media

Friday, January 24th

Austin

George Springer, Jason Castro, Alan Ashby

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:00pm – 6:00pm

•             12250 Research Blvd., Austin, TX 78759

•             Open to all media and public

 

Corpus Christi

Marc Krauss, Chris Carter, J.R. Richard, Milo Hamilton

Luncheon at Ortiz Center

•             11:30am-1:30pm

•             402 Harbor Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78401

•             Open to all media

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•         4:45pm-5:45pm

•         1900 US 181, Portland,  TX 78374

•         Open to all media and public

 

Spring and The Woodlands

Lucas Harrell, Brad Peacock, Michael Foltynewicz

Whataburger

•             3:15pm-4:15pm

•             3073 College Park Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77384

•             Open to all media and public

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             5:30pm-6:30pm

•             1360 Lake Woodlands Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77380

•             Open to all media and public

Humble and Kingwood

Matt Dominguez, Matt Albers

H.A.A.M. Humble Area Assistance Ministries

•             3:15pm-4:15pm

•             1302 1st Street E, Humble, TX 77338

•             Open to all media

H-E-B

•             4:45pm-5:45pm

•             216 FM 1960 Bypass Road East, Humble, TX 77338

•             Open to all media and public

Saturday, January 25th

FanFest

•             11:00am-3:00pm

•             Minute Maid Park- 501 Crawford Street, Houston, TX 77002

•             Open to all media

Sunday, January 26th

Brownsville

Alex Trevino, Francisco Romero

Academy Sports + Outdoors Autograph Signing

•             2:30pm-3:30pm

•             4305 Old Highway 77, Brownsville, TX 75820

•             Open to all media

Valley Regional Medical Center

•             5:15pm-6:15pm

•             100A E. Alton Gloor Blvd., Brownsville, Texas 78526

•             Open to all media

Monday, January 27th

Brownsville / McAllen

Alex Trevino, Francisco Romero

Dr. Carlos E. Castaneda Elementary

•             9:30am-10:30am

•             4100 N 34th St, McAllen, TX 78504

•             Open to all media

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