The Astros have placed outfielder Justin Maxwell on the disabled list with a fractured left hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch in Tuesday’s win over the Mariners. The team recalled outfielder Robbie Grossman from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Maxwell was removed from Tuesday’s game between the fourth and fifth innings after being hit in the left wrist by a pitch in the bottom of the third, driving in a run with the bases loaded.
Maxwell was hitting .234 with one homer and six RBIs in 77 at-bats as Houston’s starting center fielder. The move likely means Brandon Barnes will get most of the playing time in center field.
Grossman, a switch-hitter, was hitting .324 with 13 runs scored and a .452 on-base percentage in 19 games for Oklahoma City, going 9-for-22 in his past five games. Acquired from the Pirates in the Wandy Rodriguez trade at the Trade Deadline last year, he hit .267 with a .371 on-base percentage in 36 games at Double-A Corpus Christi.
This will be Grossman’s Major League debut.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was adamant Monday the team wasn’t planning to trade starting pitcher Bud Norris despite persistent rumors he’s on the trade block. Norris is 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA heading into his fifth start of the season Tuesday against the Mariners.
“Bud’s a critical part of our team,” Luhnow said. “He’s always going to be rumored to be moved, and that’s unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us, but here’s nothing active happening right now. There hasn’t been in a long time and we’re not planning on moving Bud. He’s an important part of our team right now.”
In an effort to have fresh arms in the bullpen capable of working multiple innings, the Astros on Monday recalled right-hander Jose Ciserno from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned left-hander Brett Oberholtzer back down after a brief stay on the Major League roster.
Oberholtzer was called up Sunday and made his debut against the Indians, throwing two innings while allowing two home runs. He was recalled after long relievers Paul Clemens (3 1/2 innings) and Dallas Keuchel (2 2/3 innings) worked multiple innings in Saturday’s 19-6 loss to Cleveland (Keuchel was sent down after the game).
Cisnero has appeared in three games, making one start, for the RedHawks, going 1-1 with a 9.35 ERA in 8 2/3 innings. He last pitched Thursday, throwing three innings Round Rock. He had a terrific year in 2012, going 14-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 20 starts at Double-A Corpus Christi and eight at Oklahoma City.
He’s expected to provide support in long relief for a bullpen that has had to eat up a lot of innings in the last week. Only one Astros starting pitcher has pitched into the sixth inning in the team’s last six games, including three starters that didn’t survive the first inning.
Nothing like catching a 5 a.m. flight when you haven’t slept, arriving at the ballpark at 11 a.m. and making your Major League debut only a few hours later. For Brett Oberholtzer, it was nothing short of a dream come true.
The Astros called up the lefty from Triple-A Oklahoma City, informing him late Saturday night in Albuquerque, N.M. he was headed to Houston. He pitched two innings in relief Sunday and gave up a pair of solo home runs and a double in Houston’s loss to Cleveland.
“I was a little nervous, not as nervous as I thought I would be,” said Oberholtzer, who was acquired from the Braves in the 2011 trade for Michael Bourn. “It’s all about how to handle it and continue to make progress.”
Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco summoned Oberholtzer into his office following Saturday night’s game and scribbled on paper for a few minutes before telling him nonchalantly he was going to Houston.
“It meant the world to me, though,” he said. “Growing up as a kid you always want to become a professional baseball player. I had that goal since I was 5 in tee ball. I need to continue to work hard and make strides and I’m glad I started my career.”
Once gathered his thoughts late Saturday, he called his parents in Delaware. It was 2 p.m. ET.
“My mom was sick, but she texted me in the morning and asked if it was for real,” he said.
Oberholtzer had been starting for the RedHawks, but he’ll pitch in long relief for the Astros. Paul Clemens was unavailable Sunday after throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday, and Dallas Keuchel threw 2 2/3 innings before being sent down.
“Having guys down in the bullpen as long guys is vital to the overall success of the team,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “You look at the short sample in which we’ve had this year, and they’ve saved us quite a few times, times when our starter has gotten in trouble early and other times we wanted to bridge to the back end of our bullpen.”
Oberholtzer made three starts for Oklahoma City, going 0-2 with a 9.49 ERA. In 12 1/3 innings pitched, he’s allowed 18 hits, 13 earned runs and four walks.
The Astros called up left-handed pitcher Brett Oberholtzer on Sunday and sent left-hander Dallas Keuchel back down to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Oberholtzer will wear No. 65.
Oberholtzer made three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 0-2 with a 9.49 ERA. In 12 1/3 innings pitched, he’s allowed 18 hits, 13 earned runs and four walks. He last pitched Tuesday, allowing five hits and five runs in five innings in a loss to Round Rock.
Keuchel didn’t make the team out of spring camp, but was called up when Travis Blackley went on the disabled list April 6 with a shoulder strain. He’s appeared in four games in relief and has a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in Saturday’s loss to Cleveland.
This will be the first time on a Major League roster for Oberholtzer, who was one of four players acquired from the Braves in the Michael Bourn trade in 2011.
The manhunt that had the city of Boston on lockdown for much of Friday hit close to home for Astros first baseman Carlos Pena, whose sisters and parents are in the city and on lockdown.
Police are searching door-to-door for the second of two suspects in Monday’s deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon after one suspect was killed late Thursday in a firefight with police. Boston residents are being ordered to shelter in place.
Pena, who lived part of his childhood in Boston and attended Northeastern University, said his parents are in town from Florida visiting his sister, who has an apartment in the Boston area.
“They’re calm, they’re inside, they’re not going anywhere,” Pena said. “They’re trusting the fact it will be taken care, and sooner or later we’ll have this guy in custody.”
Pena has watched the events unfold since Monday’s bombing with disbelief.
“It’s something that’s very unfortunate what’s going on,” he said. “Sometimes you have this helpless feeling that you wish you could do more. It’s very maddening at the same time and it makes me angry to think that would happen and I just wish I could do more. At the same time, I trust the authorities. They’re unbelievable. They’re doing all they can to neutralize the situation and diffuse the danger.”
Pena admitted it was upsetting seeing the streets shut down, streets he walked nearly every day while he was going to school in the area.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “It’s almost like a movie, you know? But I also understand there is some real danger there and they are taking the precautions necessary, and hopefully sooner or later we’ll know more about the situation. It’s kind of nerve-wracking. I get this helpless feeling that there’s nothing I can do. I have my family members locked inside the apartment because they can’t move.”
The Astros will reunite with old friend Brett Myers tonight at Minute Maid Park in the first game of a three-game series against the Indians, who have lost four in a row as they hit Houston. The Astros, who have lost five in a row, are 10-8 all-time against the Indians, including 7-5 in Houston, but this is the first meeting between the teams as American League foes. Lucas Harrell starts for the Astros.
Here are the lineups:
2B Jose Altuve
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
DH Chris Carter
1B Carlos Pena
LF J.D. Martinez
RF Rick Ankiel
3B Matt Dominguez
SS Marwin Gonzalez
RHP Lucas Harrell
Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell loves hitting behind Jose Altuve, like he did for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday.
“For me, it makes me get ready on deck,” he said. “He’s not playing around when he gets up there. He’s coming to swing the stick. It helps me because I can’t be lethargic on my approach. He always keeps me on edge because it could be the first pitch of the at-bat when he gets a hit or the seventh or eighth pitch. He does a really good job, he’s got a great approach, and I try to mimic him in batting practice.”
Altuve entered Saturday hitting .364 with five multi-hit games. He ranked tied for fifth in the American League with 16 hits and tied for sixth in multi-hit games, and had reached base in nine of the Astros’ first 10 games this year.
The 6-foot-5 athletic Maxwell can only marvel at what the 5-foot-6 Altuve has accomplished.
“I think the first time I ever heard his name was when I was rehabbing from shoulder surgery [in 2011], and I just happened to check MiLB.com to see what was going on in the Minor Leagues, and I see this Altuve guy is hitting .380 in Double-A,” Maxwell said. “I clicked on his numbers, and now it’s kind of weird I’m playing with him now. He’s got incredible hand-eye coordination. Any time he takes a swing, he puts the barrel on the ball. He’s fast, too, so he gets a lot of infield hits and he’s got power.”
2B Jose Altuve
CF Justin Maxwell
C Jason Castro
LF Chris Carter
DH Carlos Pena
RF J.D. Martinez
1B Brett Wallace
3B Matt Dominguez
SS Marwin Gonzalez
RHP Lucas Harrell
On the Astros’ bus ride to the hotel following the win over the Angels on Friday, Twitter was alive…