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DeFrancesco hopes to get interview with Astros

Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco, who served as interim manager of the Astros for the final 41 games of the 2012 season, said Wednesday he hopes to get an opportunity to interview for the Major League managerial position once again

DeFrancesco, who led the Astros to a 16-25 record after Brad Mills was dismissed in 2012, was among the pool of candidates to interview with general manager Jeff Luhnow two years ago. The job eventually went to Bo Porter, who was dismissed Sept. 1.

“I talked to Jeff and I hope I have the opportunity,” DeFrancesco said. “That was one of the best times in my career [managing the Astros]. I hope to get another opportunity to go it again.”

DeFrancesco just finished his 20th season as a Minor League manager and fourth with Oklahoma City, which next year becomes the Triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers. He missed the first six weeks of the season while undergoing cancer treatments. Oklahoma City went 74-70 this year and finished in second place in the American North division of the Pacific Coast League.

Last season, DeFrancesco guided the RedHawks to a Pacific Coast League leading 82-62 record and an American Southern Division title.

Springer: “Goal is to just get healthy”

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season and George Springer’s strained left quad not 100 percent healthy, the Astros announced on Tuesday the rookie outfielder would sit out the remainder of the regular season.

The decision certainly comes as no surprise, considering Springer hasn’t played for the Astros since July 19 against the White Sox in Chicago. He went on a Minor League rehab assignment in August, but he suffered a setback and hasn’t been able to completely heal the injury.

“It’s tough, but at this point the goal is to just get through the year healthy and get to 2015 and just be as healthy as I can,” Springer said.

Astros interim manager Tom Lawless said general manager Jeff Luhnow and the team trainers sat down with Springer on Monday to map out his future, and the decision was made with the blessing of Springer.

We felt the best thing for the organization is that George doesn’t play anymore the rest of the year,” Lawless said. “In reality, it would have to be a rehab stint when you play him and get an at-bat here and at-bat there. Will eight, nine at-bats make a difference as opposed to the other alternative when he goes out there and tweaks it again, and now we’re set back again?

“We’re going to shut him down and he’s going to take batting practice and rehab when the season’s over, and he’s going to leave here healthy. And when he comes to Spring Training, he’s going to be ready to go.”

Springer’s competitive nature made it that much more difficult for him to miss so much time.

“It’s brutal,” he said. “The goal is to play and it’s tough for me to sit here every day and to know what I can’t play.”

Springer, the Astros’ Minor League Most Valuable Player a year ago, made his much-anticipated Major League debut in April and appeared in 78 games, hitting .231 with 20 homers and 51 RBIs and showing the flash and potential that has the Astros believing he’ll be a cornerstone player for years to come.

The 24-year-old was named the American League Rookie of the Month for May, hitting .294 (30-for-102) with four doubles, one triple, 10 homers, 25 RBIs, 22 runs scored and 13 walks in 26 games to claim his first monthly award. He was the first Astros player to win Rookie of the Month honors since Hunter Pence in May 2007, when the club was still competing in the National League.

“It’s been a great experience so far, and obviously have a lot more to learn and obviously think I could have done better overall,” he said. “In my 300 at-bats, I’ve learned and I’ve grown and I go off of that into 2015.”

Springer has been working out with the club for the past month in an effort to get healthy, but the team wasn’t going to take any chances if he wasn’t 100 percent.

“He wanted to play, and really we left the decision a lot up to him and what is the best for George Springer,” Lawless said. “We’re looking at is as an organization in the long run, and the importance of eight or 10 at-bats in the big picture doesn’t make any sense taking that chance. That’s what he decided, and everyone was on board with that.”

Springer said the bigger picture is more important.

“The goal is for me to play 162 games and for me it’s tough,” he said. “Being a player and a competitor, I want to play, but at the same time you have to protect yourself and sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.”

Astros-Mariners lineups

Astros vs. Mariners
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 – Safeco Field (9:10 p.m. CT)

Houston Astros (63-81)

 

Seattle Mariners (79-64)

No.

Player

Pos.

 

No.

Player

Pos.

19

Robbie Grossman (S)

LF

 

16

Austin Jackson

CF

27

Jose Altuve

2B

 

9

Endy Chavez (L)

LF

21

Dexter Fowler (S)

CF

 

22

Robinson Cano (L)

2B

23

Chris Carter

DH

 

15

Kyle Seager (L)

3B

15

Jason Castro (L)

C

 

21

Kendrys Morales (S)

DH

6

Jake Marisnick

RF

 

20

Logan Morrison (L)

1B

28

Jon Singleton (L)

1B

 

3

Mike Zunino

C

30

Matt Dominguez

3B

 

55

Michael Saunders (L)

RF

2

Jonathan Villar (S)

SS

 

5

Brad Miller (L)

SS

Starting Pitcher

 

Starting Pitcher

31

Collin McHugh (8-9, 2.89)

RHP

 

29

Roenis Elias (10-12, 3.90)

LHP

Astros showing bunt under Lawless

You eyes aren’t deceiving you. The Astros have been bunting much more since Tom Lawless took over as interim manager, just as he promised he would. In fact, bunts were instrumental in the Astros scoring runs late in the the past two games, especially since they didn’t homer on either Saturday or Sunday in Oakland.

In the sixth inning Saturday, Robbie Grossman had a sacrifice bunt and Jonathan Villar had a bunt single to help the Astros score a pair of runs. Jake Marisnick had a sacrifice bunt in the second inning Saturday as well.

In the seventh inning Sunday, Marwin Gonzalez had a sacrifice bunt that helped the Astros score a pair of runs. Lawless grew up playing that style of baseball under legendary Cardinals manager Whitey Ford and firmly believes in bunting and hitting and running.

“I watch the game and see how it’s going,” he said. “If the right guys comes up and the situation come ups and the last couple of games we really didn’t get a lot of hits, so for us to score runs we get two guys on and nobody out, what’s the better option? Bunting here or letting the guys swing away and if we hit into a double play we get nothing?

“If the right situation comes up and the right guys that can handle the bat and can drop the bunt, I take my chances in giving away an out. That’s the way I grew up. I grew up watching Whitey.”

Of course, bunting and giving away outs flies in the face of the analytical world, which preaches every out is precious. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, though, is letting Lawless manage how he sees fit.

“Nobody’s yelled at me yet,” Lawless joked. “It’s an idea you have to buy into. It’s nine guys playing team baseball. Whatever you have to do to push runs across, that’s what you have to do. We’re not taking the bat out of anybody’s hands. We’re getting a feel for what the game is telling us to do.”

Astros 2015 schedule

Astros 2015 schedule (times to be announced):

Astros 2015 schedule

April 6 – vs. Indians

April 8-9 – vs. Indians

April 10-12 – at Rangers

April 13-15 – vs. A’s

April 17-18 – vs. Angels

April 20-22 – at Mariners

April 24-26 – at A’s

April 27-29 – at Padres

April 30-May 3 – vs. Mariners

May 4-6 – vs. Rangers

May 7-10 – at Angels

May 12-13 – vs. Giants

May 14-17 – vs. Blue Jays

May 18-20 – vs. A’s

May 21-24 – at Tigers

May 25-27 – at Orioles

May 29-31 – vs. White Sox

June 1-4 – vs. Orioles

June 5-7 – at Blue Jays

June 8-10 – at White Sox

June 12-14 – vs. Mariners

June 15-16 – vs. Rockies

June 17-18 – at Rockies

June 19-21 – at Mariners

June 22-24 – at Angels

June 25-28 – vs. Yankees

June 29-July 1 – vs. Royals

July 3-5 – at Red Sox

July 6-9 – at Indians

July 10-12 – at Rays

July 14, All-Star Game, Cincinnati

July 17-19 – vs. Rangers

July 21-23 – vs. Red Sox

July 24-26 – at Royals

July 28-30 – vs. Angels

July 31-Aug. 2 – vs. D-backs

Aug. 3-5 – at Rangers

Aug. 6-9 – at A’s

Aug. 11-12 – at Giants

Aug. 14-16 – vs. Tigers

Aug. 17-20 – vs. Rays

Aug. 21-23 – vs. Dodgers

Aug. 25-26 – at Yankees

Aug. 28-30 – at Twins

Aug. 31-Sept. 2 – vs. Mariners

Sept. 4-6 – vs. Twins

Sept. 7-9 – at A’s

Sept. 11-13 – at Angels

Sept. 14-17 – at Rangers

Sept. 18-20 – vs. A’s

Sept. 21-24 – vs. Angels

Sept. 25-27 – vs. Rangers

Sept. 28-30 – at Mariners

Oct. 2-4 – at D-backs

 

Mallee welcomes Bonds input

Astros hitting coach John Mallee, who has one of his players leading the Major Leagues in hits and batting average (Jose Altuve) and another among the leaders in home runs (Chris Carter), said he welcomed Barry Bonds’ visit to batting practice on Saturday at O.co Coliseum.

Bonds, who’s hit more home runs than any player in history, lives in the Bay Area and is friends with Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler, who asked Mallee earlier this year if Bonds could come and spend some time around the club.

“If he wants to come out and hang out and look around and tell us what he sees, that’s fine,” Mallee told Fowler.

Mallee was talking to Bonds on Saturday about rookie slugger Jon Singleton, who entered Sunday hitting .179 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs, and Bonds asked Mallee if he could talk to him. The two wound up talking for nearly 15 minutes behind the batting cage about approach and how to set pitchers up and the importance of practice and commitment.

“That’s invaluable information,” Mallee said. “Coming from a guy like that, it was great he was able to spend time with these young kids in that regard. He told [Singleton], ‘You need to take the S off your shirt for Superman and put the P on there for practice. And you have to practice and practice right all the time. You’ve got to work with direction, you have to focus and you have to pay attention to your at-bats in the course of game and see how this guy is pitching you and then make adjustments. You’re going to learn that over time.’

“It’s the same thing we’ve talked about, and coming from him it’s a big deal for the kids and they’re lucky to have an opportunity to speak with him.”

 

Instructional league roster

 
  PITCHERS POS B/T HT WT BIRTHDATE AGE (Y.M) FIRST YEAR CITIZENSHIP
  Deetz, Dean RHP R/R 6’1” 190 11/29/1993 20.9 2014 United States
  Dykxhoorn, Brock RHP R/R 6’8” 240 07/02/1994 20.2 2014 Canada
  Garcia, Junior LHP L/L 6’1” 180 10/01/1995 18.11 2013 Dominican Republic
  Gatlin, John RHP R/R 6’5” 225 12/14/1990 23.9 2014 United States
  Gause, Jay RHP R/R 6’2” 240 04/24/1992 22.4 2014 United States
  German, Devonte RHP R/R 6’5″ 240 10/14/1994 19.11 2013 United States
  Guduan, Reymin LHP L/L 6’4” 190 03/16/1992 22.5 2010 Dominican Republic
  James, Joshua RHP R/R 6’3” 200 03/08/1993 21.6 2014 United States
  Martes, Francis RHP R/R 6’0” 170 11/24/1995 18.9 2013 Dominican Republic
  Mengden, Daniel RHP R/R 6’1” 210 02/19/1993 21.6 2014 United States
  Perez, Jorge RHP R/R 6’0” 175 07/30/1993 21.1 2013 United States
  Radziewski, Bryan LHP L/L 5’10” 190 02/21/1992 22.6 2014 United States
  Santos, Juan RHP R/R 6’4″ 240 08/30/1995 19.0 2013 Puerto Rico
  Solarte, Alejandro LHP L/L 6’4” 180 09/22/1994 19.11 2012 Venezuela
  Thompson, Ryan RHP R/R 6’5” 215 06/26/1992 22.2 2014 United States
  Velazquez, Derick RHP R/R 6’4” 200 11/28/1993 20.9 2014 United States
  CATCHERS POS B/T HT WT BIRTHDATE AGE FIRST YEAR CITIZENSHIP
  Castro, Ruben C / 2B L/R 5’10” 182 07/10/1996 18.2 2014 Puerto Rico
  Gonzalez, Alfredo C R/R 6’1″ 190 07/13/1992 22.2 2011 Venezuela
  Holberton, Brian C L/R 5’10” 190 06/10/1992 22.3 2013 United States
  Nottingham, Jacob C R/R 6’3″ 200 04/03/1995 19.5 2013 United States
  Ritchie, Jamie C R/R 6’2” 190 04/09/1993 21.5 2014 United States
  INFIELDERS POS B/T HT WT BIRTHDATE AGE FIRST YEAR CITIZENSHIP
  Davis, JD 3B R/R 6’2” 190 04/09/1993 21.5 2014 United States
  Fernandez, Jose SS R/R 6’1” 170 05/20/1993 21.3 2010 Dominican Republic
  Goedert, Connor 3B R/R 6’3” 195 12/14/1993 20.9 2014 United States
  Hyde, Mott SS R/R 5’10” 190 03/10/1992 22.6 2014 United States
  McCall, Dexture 1B R/R 6’1” 220 01/29/1994 20.7 2014 United States
  Moran, Colin 3B L/R 6’4” 215 10/01/1992 21.11 2013 United States
  McDonald, Chase 1B R/R 6’2” 260 06/02/1992 22.3 2013 United States
  White, Tyler 3B R/R 5’11” 225 10/29/1990 23.10 2013 United States
  Nunez, Antonio UTL R/R 5’9” 165 01/10/1993 21.8 2014 United States
  Reed, AJ 1B L/L 6’4” 240 05/10/1993 21.4 2014 United States
  Roa, Hector 1B/OF R/R 6’1” 195 03/01/1995 19.6 2012 United States
  Santos, Jeffry SS S/R 6’2” 150 01/04/1993 21.8 2011 Dominican Republic
  Tanielu, Nick 2B/3B R/R 5’11” 205 09/04/1992 22.0 2014 United States
  Trompiz, Kristian SS/2B R/R 6’1” 160 12/02/1995 18.9 2013 Venezuela
  OUTFIELDERS POS B/T HT WT BIRTHDATE AGE FIRST YEAR CITIZENSHIP
  Bottger, Ryan OF S/R 6’0” 210 04/14/1993 21.5 2014 United States
  Boyd, Bobby CF L/R 5’9” 180 01/04/1993 21.8 2014 United States
  Fisher, Derek OF L/R 6’3” 207 08/21/1993 21.0 2014 United States
  Martin, Jason CF L/R 5’10” 175 09/05/1995 19.0 2013 United States
  Mejia, Brauly OF R/R 6’0” 185 10/28/1994 19.10 2012 Dominican Republic
  Ramsay, James CF L/L 5’11” 180 03/02/1992 22.6 2013 United States
  Wik, Marc UTL L/R 5’11” 195 07/18/1992 22.1 2012 United States

Luhnow lauds coaching staff

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said no decision has been made whether any members of the coaching staff would return next year, but he did give a vote of confidence to hitting coaches John Mallee and Ralph Dickenson, third-base coach Pat Listach, first-base coach Tarrick Brock and pitching coach Brent Strom.

Luhnow is in the process of beginning the search for a full-time manager and bench coach after Bo Porter and Dave Trembley were dismissed Monday. Tom Lawless is serving as interim manager and Adam Everett as interim bench coach.

“Our hitting guys have done a nice job this, as evidenced by [Chris] Carter,” Luhnow said. “[Jose] Altuve, I’m not sure he needs much coaching, but I think they’ve done a nice job cutting back on the strikeouts and getting more production out of the offense.

“Strommy’s done a tremendous job and I’m happy with that. Listach has done a nice job with the infield positioning and making sure our infielders are ready, and T-Brock has done a nice job with the outfielders, so I’m very happy with all of our staff.”

Carter has authored one of the biggest turnarounds of the second half, leading the Majors in homers (22), slugging percentage (.650) and RBIs (52) since July 1, and he has a chance to lead the league in homers. Jose Altuve leads the Majors in hits and batting average.

That being said, Luhnow said the full-time manager could have some say on some of the spots on the coaching staff.

“You have to give your manager the ability to participate in shaping the staff,” he said. “At the same time, we have guys here that are doing well and they know our players and are a fit with our organization. It’s always a point of discussion. It’s something we’re going to ask managerial candidates about, but depending on the candidates, some guys want their own guys and other guys are willing to work with whoever’s there.”

Bo Porter’s statement on being let go by Astros

Astros manager Bo Porter sent this statement via text message to some members of the media:

“I want to thank the Astros Organization for giving me my first opportunity to Manage Major League Baseball.

During my time in Houston I dedicated myself to do everything I could to help this Organization win, in the short-term and for the long-term.

I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in Houston with an Organization in transition. I’m gratified we were able to bring some excitement to this city as a result of our improvement from 2013 to 2014.

I am enthusiastic about what the future will bring for me and my family. I look forward to my next opportunity in Major League Baseball. The valuable experience I gained with the Astros will be extremely beneficial in all my future endeavors.

I want to especially thank my players, my staff and support staff for all their efforts in our attempt to develop a Championship culture doing my time as Manager of the Houston Astros.

I want to thank the baseball community for your kind words and the countless text messages, phone calls, voicemails and emails. Your support is what makes our game and industry so great!

Last but surely not least I want to thank the city of Houston and the fans for the incredible support they have shown towards me and my family during our time in Houston.

I wish the Astros well in the future and look forward to the next chapter of my baseball career.”

Porter, Trembley relieved of duties by Astros

Astros manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley were relieved of their duties Monday, the team announced. Tom Lawless was named interim manager through the remainder of the season.

Porter had been the Astros manager since the start of the 2013 season after being named to the position on Sept. 27, 2012 while serving as third base coach for the Washington Nationals. Adam Everett will join the coaching staff, replacing Trembley as bench coach. The remaining coaches will continue in their current roles.

The search for a new manager will begin immediately, the team said in a statement.

The Astros are 59-79 in Porter’s second full season as manager and have already surpassed their win total of their previous three seasons. They went 51-111 last year, finishing with the worst record in baseball for the third year in a row.

Lawless, who has close to 35 years of experience in baseball as a Major League player, Minor League manager and coach, had served as the manager for Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier this season while Tony DeFrancesco was on medical leave before returning to his role as a roving infield instructor.

Everett, who spent parts of 11 seasons in the Majors as a shortstop, including seven with the Astros (2001-07), rejoined the Astros organization as a Minor League infield instructor in 2013.

“Bo’s passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.

“What we will seek going forward is a consistent and united message throughout the entire organization.  It is essential that as an organization we create an atmosphere at the Major League level where our young players can come up and continue to develop and succeed.  Ultimately, I am responsible for creating that culture, and I will do everything in my power to do so—even when it means making difficult moves like the one we made today.

“Moving forward, I am optimistic about the direction of our team.  Our young core continues to progress, and  I believe wholeheartedly that our plan—while at times challenging—is working and will bring a consistent winner to Houston in the very near future.

“We wish Bo and his family well, and feel he will be successful in future endeavors.”

Astros owner Jim Crane said in a statement: “This was not an easy decision to make,” Crane said. “We wish Bo nothing but the best in the future. Jeff has my full support moving forward. Our goal to bring a championship to Houston remains.”     

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