Results tagged ‘ 2012 ’

Carlos Lee will make debut Tuesday

Astros slugger Carlos Lee is scheduled to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Mets in his first Spring Training game of the year. Lee sat out the first two games with a mild right hamstring strain, but he said Monday he feels great and can play. Lee said he ran the bases and 20 sprints on Sunday and had no issues.

Meanwhile, catcher Humberto Quintero (back/hip) is still a few days from getting in the lineup, manager Brad Mills said. Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) continue to progress and will take batting practice Monday. Mills said they’re tentatively planned to take live batting practice on Tuesday.

Today’s game will be the first Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer against his former team. Michael Bourn, who was traded to the Braves in the Schafer deal last year, will start for Atlanta.

“It will be fun just to be able to go against some of my old guys,” Schafer said. “It’s just another Spring Training game and trying to get ready for the season, but it will be fun to go against my old teammates.”

Schafer worked out in the offseason with Martin Pardo and even a few times with Matt Diaz. He’s also kept in touch with Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens, who will start today for the Braves.

“When you’re on a team for a few years you build friendships, but at the same time I’m still getting ready to go for the season,” he said.

Here is the Astros lineup:

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

RF Brian Bogusevic

LF J.D. Martinez

DH Jack Cust

SS Jed Lowrie

3B Matt Downs

1B Scott Moore

C Jason Castro

—-

RHP Jordan Lyles, followed by Zach Duke

Game 2: Astros break out big bats

Chris Snyder, Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez each homered to send the Astros past the Nationals, 10-2, on Sunday afternoon in Viera, Fla. The Astros improved to 2-0. Click here for the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the feature story on George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr., which includes a video interview with Springer.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: You have to start with offense. The Astros broke the game open with four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth inning to beat the Nats for the second day in a row despite being outhit (11-8).

Catcher Chris Snyder, making his first start, hit a long solo homer down the left-field line in the third off Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. Outfielder J.D. Martinez belted a three-run homer in the third, and designated hitter Fernando Martinez – claimed off waivers from the Mets in January – hit a three-run homer in the fourth to cap a 2-for-2 day with a walk.

Fernando Martinez is trying to make the roster as an outfielder, and he’s got a shot if he stays healthy considering he swings left-handed and has power. Chris Johnson, Scott Moore, Brian Bixler and Jordan Schafer also had hits Sunday.

“We had some good at-bats in key situations,” manager Brad Mills said. “Snyder’s home run, that ball was hit. The other two might have gotten a little extra help [from the wind]. Fernando Martinez’s home run would have been in the gap anyway and would have been a double. J.D. put a good swing on a ball that was in on him. Any time you get a three-run home run, that’s a huge boost.”

It was another good day on the mound for the Astros, who walked only two batters. Starter J.A. Happ allowed three hits and one run in two innings. He was up in the zone a bit in his second inning of work, but was able to get outs at key times.

Henry Sosa, who was also up in the zone in his the second inning, worked around four hits to throw two scoreless innings. Paul Clemens made his debut and pitched a scoreless frame. The Nats didn’t appear to be seeing the ball very well off of him. Lucas Harrell allowed three hits and a run in two innings and had good life on the baseball, though his command wasn’t there. Fernando Rodriguez looked really sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced, including Bryce Harper. David Carpenter finished it out, allowing one hit in one inning.

The Astros have yet to commit an error this spring.

Click here to hear Fernando Martinez and J.A. Happ discuss their games.

WHAT WENT WRONG: For the second day in a row, there isn’t much negative to single out. The Astros did strike out 10 times and left 13 runners on base, but let’s not get nitpicky. They did draw seven walks, after all, and had a lot of base runners.

WHAT THEY SAID: “He’s got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him. Obviously, you hear about him, but it’s definitely live stuff. Him coming off Tommy John and day two of Spring Training games, he’s definitely got good stuff.” – catcher Chris Snyder on facing Stephen Strasburg.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jordan Lyles, who’s battling for a spot in the rotation, makes his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros when they face the Braves on Monday in Kissimmee. The game could also mark the spring debut of veteran slugger Carlos Lee, who sat out the first two games with a mild right hamstring strain.

INJURY UPDATE: Carlos Lee (mild right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Monday. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (right leg) is day-to-day. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) are taking batting practice against the coaching staff, but not ready to play.

Sorry, no pictures today. The Astros hit in the cages in Viera on a rainy Sunday morning, leaving me no opportunities to snap a few photos. Check back tomorrow.

Game 1: Castro’s return, Johnson’s homer thrill Astros

The Astros began Grapefruit League action on Saturday afternoon at warm and windy Osceola County Stadium by beating the Washington Nationals, 3-1, behind strong efforts from seven different pitchers and a two-run homer by Chris Johnson.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: You have to start with health. Catcher Jason Castro made his return from a pair of injuries, including a torn ACL that cost him all of last season, and caught three innings and threw out a runner trying to steal. More importantly, Castro says he felt fine. That’s great news for the Astros. Brandon Lyon pitched in a game for the first time since June 13 and threw a scoreless inning.

Astros pitchers didn’t walk any batters, which is a rare feat in a Spring Training game in which you had seven pitchers take the mound. Livan Hernandez and Kyle Weiland threw two scoreless innings, and Brett Myers, Fernando Abad, Brandon Lyon, Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez each threw a scoreless inning.

Hernandez is relishing the chance to mentor the Astros young staff.

Myers gave up the only run of the game for the Astros, but he appeared to have struck Jesus Flores out on an 0-2 pitch before Flores hit an RBI double. Myers and the Astros were a poor call away from a possible shutout.

At the plate, Chris Johnson gave the Astros all the offense they needed with a two-run homer. It’s a great start for Johnson, who is trying to win the Opening Day third base job. With Jimmy Paredes nursing a sore wrist, Johnson is taking advantage of his opportunity early.

Elsewhere, J.B. Shuck had a hit and – surprise! – a walk, and Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie (triple) and Jason Bourgeois had hits. The Astros didn’t commit an error.

What went wrong: Well, nothing really. When you don’t walk any batters, don’t make any errors, win the game and escape healthy, it’s a good day.

What they said: “We always talk about going up there and having good at-bats and making good contact. When it went over the fence, that was a plus. It’s definitely a good start, but it’s only one at-bat. I have to keep going.” – third baseman Chris Johnson on his two-run, fourth-inning homer of Washington’s Ross Detwiler.

What’s next: Left-hander J.A. Happ makes his first start of the Grapefruit League season when the Astros travel to Viera, Fla., to play the Nationals on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT (the game will be broadcast on MLB.TV). Among the players expected to be in the lineup for the first time for Houston are Chris Snyder, Brian Bogusevic and J.D. Martinez.

Injury update: Carlos Lee (mild right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Monday. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (right leg) is day-to-day. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) has been cleared to swing a bat from the left side of the plate. … Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) is making steady progress but isn’t game ready.

Here are the photos:

Livan Hernandez catches up with some old teammates.

Bench coach Joe Pettini skies some pop ups during morning drills.

Chris Johnson and Jason Michaels catch up.

Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson talk at the cage.

Jose Altuve prepares to take a cut.

Jason Castro makes contact.

Brandon Barnes signs autographs.

Lee, Quintero both sidelined to start Grapefruit League play

First baseman Carlos Lee, who was originally in the lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Nationals, said the mild right hamstring strain that caused him to be scratched isn’t serious and that he’s aiming to be in the lineup Monday against the Braves

“It’s something that happened in the offseason when I was running and I never felt it pull or nothing,” he said. “I was running one afternoon and the next day I woke up and it was kind of sore. I was treating it in Panama, too, and I feel a lot better. I ran yesterday and have been doing some exercises, and it’s feeling pretty good. I didn’t want to push it today. I’ll run some more today and tomorrow and I’m shooting for Monday.”

Astros manager Brad Mills isn’t too worried

“We knew it was like that when he came into camp and we’ve tried to hold off as much as we could as far as testing him, to see if he could play,” he said. “Yesterday, the day before we started playing, we ran him through some pretty good tests and after running through those tests we felt it would be best to give him two more days off. We’ll see how it is after tomorrow and see where he’s at for Monday.”

Meanwhile, catcher Humberto Quintero’s back is acting up again and will keep him out of game action for a couple of days. Quintero was scheduled play Saturday after starter Jason Castro left the game, but Carlos Corporan will get that time instead.

“We’ll probably hold him out of today and tomorrow as well and hopefully we’re able to get him behind the plate on Monday and Tuesday,” Mills said. “We were hoping to get him into the game today after Castro. We’ll hold off on that.”

Mills said third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) has been cleared to start swinging a bat from the right side of the plate. Infielder Angel Sanchez keeps progressing from his back injury and might begin swinging off a tee on Saturday.

Here is Saturday’s lineup against the Nats:

LF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

RF Travis Buck

DH Jack Cust

3B Chris Johnson

SS Jed Lowrie

1B Brett Wallace

CF Jason Bourgeois

C Jason Castro

SP Livan Hernandez

Mills sporting a black eye and a new watch

The Astros worked out on the stadium field at the Osceola County Stadium complex for the first time Friday morning in anticipation of Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals.

Before the players began to stretch, manager Brad Mills addressed the team and lauded non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes for presenting him earlier in the morning with a Transformers watch. Mills’ watch was shattered and he suffered a black eye Wednesday when a ball came through the netting behind the cage and struck him.

“That’s pretty good for a young kid to do that,” Mills said. “I told the guys if we screw up on the time today, it’s Brandon’s fault, because of the Transformers watch.”

Here’s the latest on the Astros:

  • LHP Sergio Escalona, who injured his throwing elbow swinging a bat last week, will be shut down for a few days, Mills said. Escalona had an MRI on Thursday, which showed no structural damage.
  • Mills announced the next two starters in his rotation following Livan Hernandez (Saturday), J.A. Happ (Sunday) and Jordan Lyles (Monday).  Wandy Rodriguez will start Tuesday against the Mets, and Bud Norris will start Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater.
  • Among the relievers scheduled to pitch behind Hernandez on Saturday are Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon, who will be pitching in a game for the first time since May. Myers will throw one inning in his debut as Astros closer (he won’t pitch the ninth, however).
  • The batting order has yet to be announced, but Mills revealed his starters for Saturday’s game against the Nats: Chris Johnson (third base), Jed Lowrie (shortstop), Jose Altuve (second base), Carlos Lee (first base), J.B. Shuck (left field), Jason Bourgeois (center field), Travis Buck (right field), Castro (catcher) and Jack Cust (DH).
  • Third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who’s nursing a sore left wrist, took batting practice left-handed Thursday, but is still not cleared to swing right from the right side of the plate.
  • Castro, who missed all of last year following knee surgery and then had foot surgery in December, will catch only three innings Saturday. Mills said he’d like Castro to catch three more innings Monday and then perhaps four on Wednesday, depending on how he feels.

Players gather to stretch on the stadium field for the first time

Mills in favor of extra playoff team

Add Astros manager Brad Mills to the list of people that like the idea of baseball perhaps adding another team to the playoffs.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are working toward a Thursday deadline to expand the playoffs by adding two additional Wild Card teams overall, creating a one-game first-round playoff in each league, beginning with the 2012 postseason.

“It’s going to be good for the all the fans,” said Mills, who spent six years as bench coach of the Red Sox before coming to Houston. “Even though you’re adding one more spot, you’re creating a lot of interest for more teams in both leagues.  I’m definitely in favor of that. If I’m not mistaken, it’s going to be a one-game playoff, and those are always fun.”

By the way, the Astros would have made the playoffs in 1995 had the two Wild Card teams in each league been in effect.

Astros left-handed relief pitcher Sergio Escalona, who injured his elbow swinging a bat early in camp, was examined by team doctors Thursday and was scheduled to undergo an MRI, manager Brad Mills said.

Escalona’s elbow didn’t respond as well as the Astros would like following his live batting practice session Wednesday.

“Escalona’s arm, after he threw yesterday, just wasn’t where he feels it needs to be and really our doctors and staff feels it needs to be,” Mills said. “We’re going to get him some more tests on that to see where he’s at, so he’s probably not going to throw for a while with that.”

Here is the day in pictures:

Brett Wallace follows through.

J.D. Martinez takes a break to laugh during BP.

Bud Norris fires a pitch during live BP.

Jed Lowrie, Travis Buck and bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte.

Fernando Rodriguez warms up in the bullpen.

 

 

Escalona to undergo an MRI

Astros left-handed relief pitcher Sergio Escalona, who injured his elbow swinging a bat early in camp, will be examined by doctors today and is scheduled to undergo an MRI, manager Brad Mills said. Escalona’s elbow didn’t respond well following his live batting practice session Wednesday.

Mills also provided health updates Thursday morning on pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (back) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back).

“Escalona’s arm, after he threw yesterday, just wasn’t where he feels it needs to be and really our doctors and staff feels it needs to be,” he said. “We’re going to get him some more tests on that to see where he’s at, so he’s probably not going to throw for a while with that. Wandy’s feeling better. Sanchez is feeling better. He’s still got some issues and we’re trying to bring him along slow with his back.”

Mills also said third baseman Jimmy Paredes has been cleared to take batting practice from the left side of the plate. He’s been dealing with wrist inflammation since January.

“We’re going to have to monitor him real close,” Mills said. “He’s still a ways away.”

Sanchez slowly working his way back from fall

Versatile infielder Angel Sanchez has been dealing with a tight back this spring after slipping and falling while taking his mother’s luggage down a set of stairs earlier this month. Sanchez took some ground balls hit right at him Wednesday and swung at balls on a tee.

“It felt way better than [Tuesday], so it’s improving,” he said.

Sanchez, a non-roster invitee who started at shortstop on Opening Day last year, was able to field ground balls at shortstop, second base and third base, but not at full speed. Astros manager Brad Mills would like to be able to get him on the field soon at full speed.

“His back is still real tight and the doctors don’t feel comfortable letting him go with it,” he said. “We’re still taking nice and easy ground balls right at him, but it’s putting him behind the eight ball because it’s not giving him an opportunity to take ground balls and take swings. We’re not going to rush him because we want to make sure he’s 100 percent.”

Be sure to check out this feature on CF Jordan Schafer by clicking here.

Here are some photos, some of which are up-close:

Wandy Rodriguez has some fun.

Humberto Quintero has some fun.

J.A. Happ warms up for live batting practice.

J.B. Shuck cracks a grin.

Juan Abreu throws to hitters with Burt Hooton watching.

Jason Bourgeois wonders why I'm standing so close.

The future: Jonathan Singleton, Delino DeShields Jr., George Springer.

Fernando Martinez awaits BP.

Smoke billows across the street while Henry Sosa pitches.

Astros outfield race has plenty of options

The Astros plan to give Brian Bogusevic a good look in center field this spring, putting him in competition with Jordan Schafer and Jason Bourgeois for the starting nod. Bogusevic started 31 games in right field last year after Hunter Pence was traded, but has some experience in center and enough athleticism to play the position.

What’s more, the Astros have Jack Cust and Travis Buck capable of playing right field.

“His ability gives him the opportunity to be able to play center or right, but we want this guy to step up and be an everyday starter for us and there’s reason he won’t be able to,” Astros manager Brad Mills said of Bogusevic. “We all saw what he can do at times last year.”

Bogusevic, a former first-round pick as a pitch who made the switch to outfield in 2008, understands the importance of being versatile enough to play different positions, and is more than willing to give center field a shot.

“There’s a lot of guys going for open spots, so I think everybody is trying to make a good impression all around,” he said.

Cust can play in left and right and will get some ground balls at first base. Top prospect Jonathan Singleton will also get some time in the outfield, Mills said. Versatile infielders Matt Downs and Brian Bixler will also do some work in the outfield.

Regarding Schafer, Mills said: “He seems like he’s on a mission.”

Here are a few other items of interest:

  • Astros manager Brad Mills announced the starting pitchers for the team’s first two Grapefruit League games, with veteran Livan Hernandez pitching Saturday against the Washington Nationals – his former team – at Kissimmee. Left-hander J.A. Happ will face the Nats on Sunday in Viera, Fla.
  • Astros pitchers will take a break from throwing live batting practice on Tuesday, giving some of the pitching groups two days off between times on the mound.
  • The Astros haven’t been able to successfully schedule extra B games against other clubs, something they wanted to do to create more innings for all of the arms they have in camp. Mills said some pitchers might have to throw in Minor League games. “You’d rather have B games against other teams, but that didn’t quite work out,” he said.
  • Infielder Angel Sanchez was again forced to watch from the sidelines against Monday because of his ailing back. Sanchez did some light toss, but didn’t participate in the team’s defensive drills. He said the back is improving.

Here is the day in pictures:

Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson take balls at third.

Chris Snyder and Jason Castro walk across the field.

A group of pitchers awaits the next drill.

Brad Mills watches Zach Duke pick-off drills.

Back problems kept Angel Sanchez on the sidelines Monday.

David Carpenter, Fernando Rodriguez and Lucas Harrell shoot the breeze.

David Carpenter throws a pitch to a hitter.

Jason Castro check the schedule.

Who knew bats on born-on dates?

J.D. Martinez talks with hitting coach Mike Barnett.

Jose Altuve plays catch with himself while awaiting the next drill.

Lee reports as full squad hits the field

After listening to speeches from owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Brad Mills, 63 Astros players hit the field for the first full-squad workout of the spring. The Astros have a week to get up to speed before opening Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

Among those on the field for the first time Sunday was Carlos Lee, who’s in the final year of his six-year, $100-million contract and likely his final season in Houston

Lee, 35, batted .275 with 18 homers and 94 RBIs in 155 games last year, and he hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers the last two seasons as did during his first three years in Houston when he hit .306 and averaged 29 homers and 107 RBIs.

“Last year, I started really slow, but I kind of figured it out and worked hard on my hitting and had a great second half,” he said. “I did what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully we take off in the same condition I was last year hitting the ball like I normally do.”

Crane made news when he told reporters the Astros would likely change uniforms next year.

Here is the day in photos, with an emphasis in smiles and autographs:

Astros owner Jim Crane and principal owner Bill Morgan stroll the back fields.

Jim Crane addresses reporters, saying team will likely change uniforms.

Juan Abreu rocks and fires in the bullpen.

Fernando Rodriguez signs autographs, chats with fans.

Jose Altuve, Travis Buck and Humberto Quintero await facing live pitching.

Travis Buck and Minor League baserunning coordinator Milt Thompson share a laugh.

J.D. Martinez laughs at the batting cage.

Kyle Weiland throws a round of living batting practice.

Aneury Rodriguez signs autographs.

A line of fans await Zach Duke's signature.

Sergio Escalona throws in the bullpen with Doug Brocail watching.

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