Results tagged ‘ Angel Sanchez ’

Morning Astros update

As the Astros hit the field at rainy Osceola County Stadium, here’s a Sunday morning update from manager Brad Mills:

– Catcher Humberto Quintero (bulging disk) will catch in the bullpen Sunday for the second day in a row. Quintero caught Livan Hernandez‘s side session Saturday and felt some stiffness in his back, though it got better the longer he was out there. He will catch Sergio Escalona on Sunday and swing off a tee Monday.

– Catcher Chris Snyder is in the lineup catching consecutive games for the first time. Jason Castro will be behind the plate on Monday. Mills said the way the catching rotation was set up, Snyder was making most of the road trips and facing all the right-handed pitchers and Castro was staying in Kissimmee and facing all the left-handed pitchers. “That’s not quite how we wanted to work things out and we had to mix it up,” Mills said. “I don’t have any problem with Castro facing lefties, but we want to mix it up.”

– Left-hander Sergio Escalona (elbow) will throw his first bullpen session Sunday since being shut down for a few days with elbow problems. Escalona was very effective out of the bullpen last season for the Astros, so they would like the back issue to get resolved and get a good look at him.

– Non-roster outfielder Justin Ruggiano was back in the lineup Sunday in right after missing some time with a strained oblique. It’s the same injury that’s sidelined outfielder Travis Buck, but he’s available to play Sunday.

– Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) is scheduled to see his first action of the spring Sunday and will be in the starting lineup at second base when the Astros face the Yankees on Monday night.

– Right-hander Kyle Weiland will make his first start of the spring Monday against the Yankees in Tampa. That’s the rotation spot of Bud Norris, who will instead throw four innings/60 pitches in a simulated game. The Astros know what Norris can do, but getting a chance to see Weiland face the Yankees will be a good test for him.

Astros lineup vs. Tigers:

CF Jason Bourgeois

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

C Chris Snyder

DH Chris Johnson

3B Jimmy Paredes

RF Justin Ruggiano

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

Quintero heading to Houston for cortisone shot

Astros catcher Humberto Quintero left the team’s facility in Kissimmee early Tuesday to head to Houston to get his ailing back checked out. Quintero said he’s going to have a cortisone shot Wednesday and be back on the practice field Thursday with the hope of playing Friday against Toronto.

“I’m feeling better,” he said.

Quintero said trainers told him he could have some inflammation in one of the disks in his back, which could be pinching a nerve and causing discomfort down his right leg. He’ll be examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner in Houston.

Meanwhile, third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who has yet to appear in a spring game because of left wrist inflammation, will face live pitching Tuesday afternoon on one of the Minor League fields. Infielder Angel Sanchez (back), whom manager Brad Mills said isn’t as far along in his recovery as Paredes, will take two sets of batting practice with the coaching staff and track pitches with Minor Leaguers. Mills said they’re both going to Viera, Fla., for Thursday’s game against the Nationals.

In other injury news, Carlos Lee is in the lineup for the first time Tuesday for the game against the Mets:

CF Jason Bourgeois

LF J.B. Shuck

SS Jed Lowrie

1B Carlos Lee

DH Fernando Martinez

3B Chris Johnson

C Chris Snyder

RF Brad Snyder

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

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.

Luhnow’s first trade is a good one

Less than a week after being introduced as general manager of the Astros, Jeff Luhnow put his first major imprints on the club when he acquired Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland in exchange for closer Mark Melancon.

“For me, it’s the classic win-win trade,” Luhnow said. “Boston had the need for a bullpen arm. We’re going to suffer a loss in our bullpen by not having Melancon there for us, but what we’re able to get back is a guy who can play a premium position and who has had success with the bat and who has done a lot of good things. To add on top of that a young pitcher capable of being a starting pitcher in the big leagues, we felt this is an opportunity to take advantage of.”

I’m never one to judge trades until you get a better idea of how the players will perform in their new uniforms, but at first glance this appears to be a good deal for both sides. But, in this space, let’s focus on the Astros.

The Astros needed a shortstop after losing Clint Barmes and they got one in the hard-nosed Lowrie, who could probably use a fresh start. He’s a switch-hitter who’s under club control for three more years, so he fits into what the Astros are doing. You can bet Astros manager Brad Mills gave his endorsement of Lowrie, considering he was his bench coach in Boston for two years.

Sure, the Astros had internal candidates to play shortstop from a group including Angel Sanchez, Diory Hernandez, Rule 5 pick-up Marwin Gonzalez and non-roster invitee Brian Bixler, but Lowrie is a better option to be the everyday man at shortstop.

Lowrie, 27, has played a part-time role with the Red Sox since 2008, appearing a career-high 88 games last season and hitting .252/.303/.382. He had his best year in 2010 when he hit .287/.381/.526 with nine homers and 24 RBIs, but he was limited to 171 at-bats. He’s a career .214 hitter with a .293 on-base percentage as a left-hander and a .326 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage as a right-hander.

Weiland, a 25-year-old right-hander who went to Notre Dame, made a steady rise through Boston’s system after being drafted in the third round in 2008. He got his feet wet in the Majors last season, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t come to Astros camp and compete for a spot in the rotation. He throws in the low 90′s with his fastball, but can hit 95 mph and has good sink, according to scouting reports. He was a closer at Notre Dame, but appears to have a future in the rotation.

The Astros will miss Melancon, who went 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves in his first full season in the Majors last year. He moved into the closer’s role when Brandon Lyon went down for the season with an injury and he appears to have a bright future, but the Astros have a growing crop of young bullpen arms, including Rule 5 pick-up Rhiner Cruz and David Carpenter, who made his debut last year. Lyon will return healthy next year and could close in the final year of his contract.

Plus, the Astros are unlikely to contend next year, so having a lights-out closer isn’t tantamount. Expect the club to get a good look next year at several arms they believe could close in the future.

The bottom line is the Astros traded one young player and received two more in return. The rebuilding continues.

Let’s take a stab at what the Astros’ Opening Day lineup could look like:

CF Jordan Schafer (L)

2B Jose Altuve (R)

LF J.D. Martinez (R)

1B Carlos Lee (R)

RF Brian Bogusevic (L)

3B Jimmy Paredes (S)

SS Jed Lowrie (S)

C Jason Castro (L)

Johnson to get ‘bulk’ of time at 3B

Astros manager Brad Mills shed some light Saturday on how he plans to split playing time the rest of the season at third base, which has been a rotation between Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez and Matt Downs the past two weeks.

Johnson, who burst onto the scene last year with a strong rookie campaign, has started just three of the team’s last nine games after starting 75 of the first 85 games. Downs has started a pair of games at third during the last nine games, and Sanchez started his fourth game in that span on Saturday.

Mills said Saturday that Johnson will get most of the playing time. Johnson batted .298 in June and is hitting .274 with four homers and 23 RBIs following a woeful April when he hit .185.

“C.J.’s going to get the bulk of it,” he said. “He’s got the bulk of it in the first half of the season and he’s going to get the bulk of it here coming up pretty quickly. Again, hopefully he’s able to get it going and trying to get these guys some at-bats right now is difficult. He’s going to get the bulk of starts as soon as [Sunday] maybe, at third base.”

Mills had Sanchez in the No. 2 hole Saturday, which is where Sanchez has hit during most of his starts.

“He does a good job defensively, wherever you put him,” Mills said. “He’s done a good job at second and obviously has done a good job at third. We’re putting him in there today mainly because how he fits in. C.J.’s struggled against [Paul] Maholm in the past, even though he’s a left-handed pitcher. I think how Sanchez is able to fit into our lineup is nice.”

Astros lineup for Thursday’s game

Here is manager Brad Mills’ lineup for Thursday game against Pirates:

CF Michael Bourn

2B Jeff Keppinger

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

3B Matt Downs

SS Angel Sanchez

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Jordan Lyles

Astros have grand night at Minute Maid

Astros manager Brad Mills was forced to watch Tuesday’s 11-2 win over the Cubs from a suite at Minute Maid Park after being suspended earlier in the day, but the view had to be sweet no matter where he was sitting.

The Astros pounded out 16 hits for the second time in three games and reached double-digit hits for the fifth consecutive game – their longest such streak in nearly two years. Michael Bourn, Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence went a combined 9-for-15 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs.

Bourn went 2-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases and a career-high four runs scored, Sanchez tied his career high with four hits and drove in a pair of runs and Pence went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBIs. The Astros were 9-for-20 with runners in scoring position.

Brett Myers, who had a rare chance to pitch with a big lead, went seven innings and allowed one run and eight hits to improve to 6-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts against the Cubs. He’s also 10-1 with a 2.26 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) in his career at Minute Maid Park.

“That’s how you win ballgames,” Myers said. “You’ve got to have pitching and defense and you’ve got to score some runs. We played well at everything – defense, pitching was good and we swung the bats really well, too. Last night’s game had a lot to do with how well we played. We showed ourselves we could fight back with any team no matter who was in there. They came out from the get-go swinging tonight.”

Here are some postgame notes:

  • The Astros have recorded double-digit hits in each of their last five consecutive games and are hitting .339 in that span. The last time the club had a streak of five games with 10 or more hits was May 1-5, 2009.
  • The 11 runs scored by the Astros on Tuesday are the most since Aug. 3, 2010, at St. Louis, when the team scored 18 in an 18-4 win.
  • Astros starting pitchers have posted a 2-1 record and a 3.32 ERA since April 7. In the first five games of the season, Astros starters combined for an 0-4 record and a 9.62 ERA.
  • The Astros have five triples this season and entered Tuesday’s game tied for first in the Majors with Texas and Toronto with four.
  • Astros starting pitchers are hitting .381 (8-for-21) this season, including Brett Myers’ 1-for-3 performance on Tuesday. Myers is hitting .429 (3-for-7) in 2011.
  • Astros pitchers did not allow a run from the fifth inning Monday night until the seventh Tuesday, a span of 11 innings, marking the longest scoreless innings streak by the club this season.
  • RHP Brett Myers allowed one run in seven innings, lowering his season ERA to 1.77. Myers owns a 6-0 record with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts vs. the Cubs, and in his 14 career starts against the Cubs, he is 11-2 with a 2.16 ERA.
  • Myers is 10-1 with a 2.26 ERA in 20 games, 18 starts, in his career at Minute Maid Park.
  • SS Angel Sanchez tied his career high with four hits Tuesday for the second time (also Aug. 3, 2010 at St. Louis). Sanchez has five hits in his last seven at-bats with four RBIs in that span (.714). In his last last games, he is hitting .526 with five RBIs.
  • C Humberto Quintero tied his career high with three hits for the fifth time.
  • CF Michael Bourn scored a career-high four runs in the win. His previous high was three runs, accomplished four times. He also stole bases on consecutive pitches.
  • RF Hunter Pence’s four RBIs were his most since Aug. 17, 2010, vs. the Mets, when he also drove in four.
  • CF Michael Bourn and 2B Bill Hall each extended their hitting streaks to a team-leading seven games on Tuesday. During their streaks, both players are hitting .333: Bourn is 10-for-30 and Hall is 8-for-24.

Options a factor a decision time

As the Astros debate their remaining roster decisions in the next few days, one of the factors that will come into play is which players are out of options. Players who are out of options and don’t make the 25-man roster must clear waivers before being sent to the Minor Leagues, so the Astros would risk losing them.

The Astros have seven players who are out of options for 2011 – right-handers Nelson Figueroa and Alberto Arias, infielders Clint Barmes, Angel Sanchez and Jeff Keppinger, catcher Humberto Quintero and left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith. Of those, only Sanchez and Rowland-Smith are battling for roster spots at this point.

“It’s certainly something we talk about,” general manager Ed Wade said. “We try to weigh all factors, including out-of-options status. Whether it’s one of the out-of-options guys or the Rule 5 players, we try to factor in everything before we make a decision.”

Sanchez, who returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing a few days with an upper back strain, is among five players competing for two backup spots on the infield. Rowland-Smith is in the hunt for a slot in the bullpen. Keppinger will start the year on the disabled list, and Arias is likely to be disabled, as well. Barmes, Figueroa and Quintero are locks to make the club.

Pitchers Lance Pendleton and Aneury Rodriguez were both taken in the Rule 5 Draft, which means they must remain on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to their former clubs. That’s assuming, the Astros can’t work out a trade to keep them. Pendleton came from the Yankees, and Rodriguez from the Rays.

Astros stockpile young talent

The Astros’ success from 1997-2005 was a product of some terrific front-office moves. They drafted well, made some key free-agent signings and weren’t afraid to trade away some of their top prospects to get players in return. When the big contracts become burdensome and the youth pipeline began to dry up, the Astros were forced to shift course.

What made matters worse was the disastrous draft of 2007, which led to a shake up in the front office. Ed Wade took over as general manager and was asked to rebuild a farm system considered one of the worst in baseball, and one of the first thing he’s he did was hire Bobby Heck as scouting director.

The 2008 draft produced catcher Jason Castro and pitcher Jordan Lyles, and the Astros are still waiting to see what the 2009 and 2010 drafts produce, though several of their top prospects came from those drafts, including 2009 first-round pick Jiovanni Mier.

But what Wade and his staff have managed to do is add even more young players to the system in the past few months with a series of trades, as well as the Rule 5 draft. Here’s a look at the moves the teams has made since July 1 that have netted 11 young players in return:

  • July 1, 2010 – Acquired infielder Angel Sanchez from Boston in exchange for Kevin Cash.
    Comment: Sanchez did a nice job at the plate while starting at shortstop for much of the second half of the season while Tommy Manzella was on the disabled list. Sanchez has no power and is limited defensively, but he has skills.
  • July 29, 2010 – Acquired pitcher J.A. Happ, infielder Jonathan Villar and outfielder Anthony Gose from Phillies in exchange for Roy Oswalt.
    Comment: Oswalt didn’t want to be in Houston anymore, and the Astros were thrilled to get the switch-hitting Villar, who immediately became one of the team’s top prospects.
  • July 29, 2010 – Acquired first baseman Brett Wallace from Blue Jays in exchange for Gose.
    Comment: With Lance Berkman on his way out, the Astros spun Gose to the Blue Jays for Wallace, who became the starting first baseman at the Major League level.
  • July 31, 2010 – Acquired pitcher Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes from the Yankees in exchange for Lance Berkman.
    Comment: The Astros weren’t going to pick up Berkman’s hefty option for 2011, so he agreed to a trade to the Yankees. Melancon is a key part to the bullpen, and Paredes is a speedy third baseman who was put on the 40-man roster.
  • Aug. 19, 2010 – Acquired pitcher David Carpenter from the Cardinals in exchange for Pedro Feliz.
    Comment: With rookie Chris Johnson tearing it up at the plate, Feliz was done in Houston. Still, the Astros managed to get something for him in a trade. Carpenter was added to the 40-man roster and could be in the mix this year in the bullpen.
  • Dec. 9, 2010 – Selected right-handers Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton in the Rule 5 Draft.
    Comment: Both Rodriguez and Pendleton will compete for a spot in the rotation this spring, but they must remain on the active roster or be offered back to their former clubs (Rodriguez came from the Rays and Pendleton the Yankees).
  • Dec. 23, 2010 – Acquired left-hander Wes Musick and right-hander Jonnathan Aristil from the Rockies in exchange for Matt Lindstrom.
    Comment: Lindstrom was due for a big raise in arbitration, and the Astros were worried about his health and inconsistency last year. They got a pair of young arms in return who have some potential.
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