Altuve memorabilia headed to Venezuelan Baseball HOF

The batting gloves worn by Jose Altuve when he passed Magglio Ordonez last week to set the record for most hits in a single season by a Venezuelan-born player are on their way to the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.

Juan Pablo Galavis, a former professional soccer player who was recently featured on the reality show “The Bachelor,” is an ambassador for the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame and is traveling the country to collect donates to improve the facility, as well as gathering memorabilia from Venezuelan-born players.

Galavis, who born was in Ithaca, N.Y., but lived in Venezuela as a child, said Altuve is well-known in his native country.“With baseball being the first sport in Venezuela, every player that gets to the big leagues becomes a name,” he said. “Not only here and what he has done here, but also when he goes back home and he played last year and the year before, [reaching] the finals. They become super stars.”

The Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame, which opened in 2002, was the brainchild of the Cardenas family, which included a young son stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was such a huge baseball fan he wound up writing some books on the sports before passing away in 1994, and his family decided to open the Hall of Fame in his honor.

Galavis saw the Cardenas family story on a documentary and he started traveling to the United States to spread the word about the museum to Venezuelan-born players. He recently designation from the IRS as a charitable organizations, called the Cardenas Sports Foundation Baseball Hall of Fame Inc.

“I found out many of the players didn’t know the museum was there,” he said. “That’s what I stayed with them. It’s easier for me to travel to the United States, getting collectibles for the museum, just like Cooperstown does, than waiting for them to get to Venezuela, because maybe they won’t come, the teams won’t let them play. That’s pretty much what I like to do. It’s my passion.”

Galavis said being a TV celebrity has helped him make more inroads.

“I’ll say it’s helped a lot,” he said. “Obviously, I could so the same thing I did three years, two years ago, but now they see me a little differently.”

Appel throws bullpen at Minute Maid Park

Mark Appel, one of the Astros’ top prospects and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, threw in the bullpen at Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon in front of senior pitcher advisor/special assistant to the general manager Doug Brocail and Astros pitching coach Brent Strom.

The Astros wanted to get Appel in front of Brocail, who served as the interim pitching coach at Double-A Corpus Christi, before the right-hander headed out next week for the instructional league in Florida and ultimately the Arizona Fall League.

“He’s still trying to get cleaned up,” Brocail said. “Personally, I think there’s a lot he needs to do. We’ve talked about it and it’s a matter of trying to clean him up as much as we can until he gets down the instructional league and out of the fall league. I just want to make sure he’s staying on the right path and doing the same things that led him to success at Double-A and he can keep marching up the ladder, versus taking one step back and two steps forward.”

Appel overcame a sluggish start to his first full season in the pro ball this year. He went 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA in seven games (six starts) at Corpus Christi after beginning the season with a 2-5 record and a 9.74 ERA in 12 games at hitter-friendly Lancaster in Class A.

“We got some really good work done in terms of trying to time some things up,” Strom said. “His fastball was extremely explosive, good changeup. There’s some work that needs to be done on the slider, which we did.

“He’s very open to ideas, so it was an excellent session and there’s definitely thunder coming out of his arm, from what I saw in the bullpen. It was firm, and it was four-seam firm with power. I was very excited for him and he did a good job. I loved what I saw, to be honest with you.”

When asked how close he was in the Majors, Strom said: “I saw some fastballs today that could have played last night.”

Brocail said his theory when he got Appel in July was to prepare him to pitch in the big leagues, which meant cleaning up his rhythm and delivery and helping him hold runners better.

“We got him in a five-man rotation and moved forward and didn’t look back,” he said. “Not taking anything away from the other coaches, I told him, I said, ‘Listen, everything that you think worked, keep it. And everything that didn’t, get rid of it. Erase it completely off the slate.’ And he responded very well. He’s intelligent, he has desire to win. I wish I would have had him longer.”

Astros’ Triple-A to be in Fresno in 2015

The Astros will have their Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, Calif., next season, the Grizzlies announced via Twitter.

Fresno, which had been partnered with the San Francisco Giants, will replace Oklahoma City, which had served as the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate the previous four years. The Dodgers bought a stake in Oklahoma City and will move their Triple-A operations there.

The Grizzlies play at Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. The park, which opened in 2002, seats 12,500 fans and features a semi-irregular field shape with dimensions measuring 324 feet down the left field line, 385 in left center, 400 in center field and 335 to the right field foul pole.

Fresno is in the PCL Northern division with Reno, Sacramento and Tacoma.

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
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