Results tagged ‘ Astros ’

Astros waiting for sluggers to explode

A week into the season, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he’s not concerned about the lack of production in the middle of his batting order. Through six games, the third, fourth and fifth spot in the Astros’ lineup were hitting .070 (4-for-57).

Those numbers are largely because of the struggles of designated hitter Evan Gattis (0-for-20) and Chris Carter (1-for-19), but they were back in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the A’s. Carter sat out Sunday’s game after a tough game Saturday.

“I like that we’ve been able to keep our head above water a little bit without that kind of production – to hold serve or whatever analogy you want to use,” Hinch said. “It’s important for us to stay afloat while those guys are getting themselves on track.

“I don’t want to put any heightened press or expectations on them. They’re good players, good, productive offensive players. These 20, 25 at-bats, depending on when they happen, create different kinds of emotions for players. I don’t wake up thinking we have a problem in the middle of our order or these guys aren’t going to bounce back.”

Hinch had lunch with Gattis on Monday, but it was pure happenstance. He walked into Union State on Monday and Gattis was eating in the café in the lobby, and Hinch joined him. Gattis’ offensive woes never came up.

“You encourage them and continue to put them out there,” Hinch said. “These are our guys. They know that. Obviously, I’ve got a job to do to give them days off or get some sparkplugs in there if they are struggling. These guys know that we back them and they’re not going to continue to struggle in the production categories they have so far.”

Hinch reminded reporters the Astros have faced some tough pitching this year, including a Cleveland starting staff that was fourth in the AL in ERA and strikeouts last year.

“I think you have to put that into context as well,” he said. “These guys don’t go up to the batter’s box trying not to do something. … I don’t make too much out o fit, but I don’t leave it unaddressed.”

Astros set Minor League rosters

The Astros have set their preliminary 2015 Minor League rosters for four of their affiliates, Triple-A Fresno, Double-A Corpus Christi, Class A Lancaster and Class A Quad Cities. The announcement was made by Astros director of player Development Quinton McCracken.

These rosters are subject to change and will not be officially finalized until the Minor League Opening Day. Rosters do not include disabled list players.

Fresno:

PITCHERS

Buchanan, Jake

Chapman, Kevin*

Cruz, Luis*

Downs, Darin*

Hoyt, James

Jankowski, Jordan

Rodgers, Brady

Rodriguez, Richard

Shirley, Tommy*

Stoffel, Jason

Straily, Dan

White, Alex

CATCHERS

Flores, Luis

Stassi, Max

INFIELDERS

Dominguez, Matt

Duffy, Matt

Petit, Gregorio

Singleton, Jon*

Sclafani, Joe#

Torreyes, Ronnie

OUTFIELDERS

Aplin, Andrew*

Hoes, L.J.

Santana, Domingo

Sosa, Ruben#

Tucker, Preston*

Corpus Christi:

PITCHERS

Appel, Mark

Baez, Angel

Ballew, Travis

Devenski, Chris

Emanuel, Kent*

Hader, Josh*

Hauschild, Mike

Lambson, Mitch*

McCullers, Lance

Minor, Daniel

Perez, Tyson

West, Aaron

Westwood, Kyle

CATCHERS

Booth, Brett

Heineman, Tyler#

Pena, Roberto

INFIELDERS

Correa, Carlos

Fontana, Nolan*

Gregor, Conrad*

Kemp, Tony*

Mier, Jio

Moran, Colin*

Nash, Telvin

White, Tyler

OUTFIELDERS

Heras, Leo*

Hernandez, Teoscar

Kemmer, Jon*

Meredith, Brandon

Lancaster:

PITCHERS

Brunnemann, Tyler

Cotton, Chris*

Fant, Randall*

Feliz, Michael

Frias, Edison

Grills, Evan*

Holmes, Brian*

Houser, Adrian

Morton, Zach

Sanudo, Gonzalo

Scribner, Troy

Sims, Blaine*

Tiburcio, Frederick

CATCHERS

Holberton, Brian*

Morales, Jobduan#

INFIELDERS

Davis, JD

Fernandez, Jose

Mayfield, Jack

McDonald, Chase

Moon, Chan#

Reed, AJ*

OUTFIELDERS

Mitchell, Ronnie*

Phillips, Brett*

Ramsay, James*

Vasquez, Danry*

Wik, Marc*

Quad Cities:

PITCHERS

Chrismon, Austin

Comer, Kevin

Dykxhoorn, Brock

James, Joshua

Lee, Chris*

Mengden, Daniel

Minnis, Albert*

Montero, Jose

Musgrove, Joe

Peterson, Eric

Radziewski, Bryan*

Thompson, Ryan

Yuhl, Keegan

CATCHERS

Gonzalez, Alfredo

Nottingham, Jacob

Ritchie, Jamie

INFIELDERS

Hernandez, Alex

Hyde, Mott

Lindauer, Thomas

Muniz, Bryan

Tanielu, Nick

Trompiz, Kristian

OUTFIELDERS

Bottger, Ryan#

Boyd, Bobby*

Fisher, Derek*

Martinez, Jorge#

McMullen, Sean*

* – denotes left-hander

# – denotes switch-hitter

 

Astros set 25-man roster

The Astros set their 25-man roster on Wednesday with a flurry of moves, including RHP Josh Fields (groin), LHP Brett Oberholtzer (blister) and RHP Brad Peacock (returning from offseason hip surgery) to the DL

CATCHERS (2)

Jason Castro

Hank Conger

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Dallas Keuchel

Scott Feldman

Collin McHugh

Asher Wojciechowski

Roberto Hernandez

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)

Chad Qualls

Luke Gregerson (closer)

Pat Neshek

Tony Sipp

Sam Deduno

Joe Thatcher

Will Harris

OUTFIELDERS (5)

Colby Rasmus

Jake Marisnick

George Springer

Evan Gattis

Robbie Grossman

INFIELDERS (5)

Jose Altuve

Jed Lowrie

Luis Valbuena

Marwin Gonzalez

Jonathan Villar

DESIGNATED HITTER (1)

Chris Carter

Dominguez, Correa among Astros cuts

The Astros trimmed their active spring roster by eight players Sunday morning, including top prospect Carlos Correa, a shortstop, and Matt Dominguez, who was the team’s starting third baseman the past two years.

Correa, the former No. 1 overall Draft pick who is a budding star, was reassigned to the Minor Leagues and will begin the season at Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros also informed relievers Darin Downs and James Hoyt, infielder Gregorio Petit and catcher Tyler Heineman they wouldn’t make the team, but would remain on the big league roster through the end of camp.

The Astros also informed reliever Sam Deduno he had made the club as a long reliever, leaving one spot open in the bullpen. Dominguez, along with pitcher Jake Buchanan and catcher Max Stassi, were optioned to the Minor Leagues.

“This is a challenging time because we’ve got a lot of players that have stepped up and played well and we have tough decision to make,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “These aren’t the last ones. We feel good about the squad we’re going to be able to take to Houston to start the season with and we feel good about the protection and the players that we’re going to have to Triple-A that are going to be available to us should an injury occur or a need arise.”

Dominguez started 309 games for the Astros the past two years, mostly at third base. He hit .241 with 21 homers and 77 RBIs in his first full season in 2013 and last year slumped to .215 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs, which is why the Astros traded for Luis Valbuena to play third this year.

Dominguez came to camp competing for a backup role, which including playing some first base, and hit .250 with two RBIs in 36 at-bats, but was behind Jonathan Villar.

“One of our goals this offseason was to give ourselves more options and out infield production last year, with the exception of [Jose] Altuve, was below what we really needed to compete in this division, so we went out and addressed upgrades at shortstop and options at third base and first base,” Luhnow said. “We’re seeing the results of that. Valbuena had an amazing spring so far and is basically going to be our third baseman and that leaves Matt in competition with some of the other guys for an extra spot on the roster, a spot off the bench, and right now we feel like there’s a couple of other guys ahead of him and he needs to play every day. Right now he’ll go down to Fresno and play third and play some first and be ready when the need arises.”

Correa has done nothing but impress in his second big league camp. He hit .341 with two homers and five RBIs this spring and was terrific on defense. He has yet to play above Class A, so getting him some reps at Double-A is the goal.

“Carlos is going to be a star player in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of time,” Luhnow said. “Having never had an at-bat in Double-A, he needs to go get some regular work in the high Minors. He did a great job for us on the field as well as off the field and I think he’s got a lot of fans in the organization and he impressed the big league staff, which is what you want as a young player.”

Deduno, claimed off waivers in August, will be the team’s long relief man. He’s appeared in 74 big league games (42) starts and is 16-19 with a 4.20 ERA, including a 3.12 ERA in five games (one start) with Houston last year.

“A.J. talked to him and he was excited because when he came in the office he was a little nervous,” Luhnow said. “He had a big smile on his face when he left the office this morning.”

Astros cut three from camp

The battle for the fifth spot in the Astros’ starting rotation is a three-man race after right-hander Dan Straily, brought to Houston in a trade with the Cubs in January, was among three players cut from Major League camp on Monday morning.

Straily was optioned to the Minor Leagues, and right-hander Mark Appel and outfielder Andrew Aplin were reassigned, leaving the Astros with 41 players in camp two weeks shy of Opening Day.

Straily, who was competing with Roberto Hernandez, Asher Wojciechowski and Sam Deduno for the fifth spot in the rotation, will begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A Fresno. He appeared in four games this spring, making two starts, and allowed 12 hits, seven runs and five walks in 10 2/3 innings.

“He was behind a couple of other guys,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “It’s always tough to send a guy out after he pitched well [Sunday], but we looked at the set of circumstances that would lead to him being that fifth starter, and we really feel like he’s a starter so we want him to go to Triple-A and be prepared.”

Straily, 26, was acquired along with third baseman Luis Valbuena from the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Dexter Fowler in January. He had a subpar year with the A’s and Cubs last year while battling shoulder weakness that changed his arm slot following a bang-up rookie season in which he went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for Oakland in 2013.

“He’s a Major League pitcher, he’s had time in the big leagues, he’s had success in the big leagues and I think he will for us as well,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to need more than five starters this year more than likely and he’s going to be one of the guys we rely on.”

Hernandez, a nine year veteran, is 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four outings (two starts) this year and could have a leg up on the competition considering his experience.

“You look at what’s going on with other clubs around baseball, and there’s a lot of injuries and having extra pitchers that are Major League caliber is something we value,” Luhnow said. “That’s definitely a consideration.”

Appel, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, appeared in three games this spring and gave up five hits and two earned runs in seven innings. He’s likely headed to the rotation at Double-A Corpus Christi, which is where ended last year.

“He’s on a good trajectory right now after a down season last year,” Luhnow said. “He ended the season strong and had a good fall league and a good camp and he’s exactly where we need him to be. He’s one of the top Major League starting prospects in the game, and I expect he’s going to be in Houston and be close to or at the top of our rotation for many years to come.”

Considering Appel appeared in only one game last spring, his experience in big league camp this year was invaluable.

“I’m very blessed to be able to be here,” he said. “It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about what it takes to be able to get here and stay here, and I’m going to definitely work hard to get back.”

Game 17: Solid day from Astros pitchers

The facts: The Astros got superb pitching from starter Dallas Keuchel, reliever Darin Downs and Mark Appel, who pitched in relief, and then blew the game and lost, 3-2, when the Yankees scored three in the ninth (two earned) against Will Harris (boxscore).

Analysis: In his first start since being named Opening Day starter, Keuchel cruised through 4 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing 41 of his 58 pitches for strikes. He allowed a pair of runners in the first, but got Brian McCann to ground out to end the inning, and he coaxed Chris Young into an inning-ending double play in the fourth.

“I just felt like I had a few mechanical issues last start and I was all over the place, but today I was just focused on making as many quality pitches as I could,” Keuchel said. “I think I said I took a step back last start, but I think I took two steps forward this one and was really able to establish the fastball early. I was making those guys conscious inside with the two-seam and then kind of set up some breaking balls and change-ups away.”

Downs allowed a hit, but quickly got a double play to get out of the inning. Appel looked polished by allowing one hit in three scoreless innings.

The Astros were held to five hits, including a two-run blast by Chris Carter in the first inning off Michael Pineda. The Astros nearly hit for the cycle in the first with George Springer hitting a triple and Matt Dominguez stroking a single to join Carter’s first homer of the spring.

“He can leave any area of the ballpark,” Hinch said of Carter, who was second in the AL with 37 homers last year. “He’s been working on staying towards the middle and hitting the ball back where it’s pitched. It’s a big man that can hit it out to a big area.”

Player of the game: Dallas Keuchel.

Notable: Yankees pitchers struck out 14 batters.

Quotable:

“You want to play quality baseball, which is key, heading into the season. To me, handling the ball cleanly and playing clean baseball is the No. 1 priorty,” — Astros manager A.J. Hinch when asked about having a winning record in the spring.

Up next: Veteran Roberto Hernandez, who gave up three earned runs and four hits in three innings Tuesday, will continue his audition for the fifth spot in the rotation when he starts Sunday’s game against the Pirates at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Dan Straily, who walked four and allowed three runs in two innings Tuesday, will also pitch against Pittsburgh while he also competes for a spot in the rotation. The game will be televised on MLB Network and ROOT Sports.

Injury report: LF/DH Evan Gattis (right wrist discomfort) is playing in Minor League games. … LHP Brett Oberholtzer (mild left lat strain) is able to throw in the bullpen and could return to game action soon. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) will pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

Hinch likes the idea of Altuve and Springer at top of the lineup.

Important week coming up for fifth starter battle.

A-Rod, Correa comparisons are real.

Tweet of the day:

Game 10: Relief pitchers shut down Braves

The facts: Astros starter Collin McHugh gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings as the Braves held off the Astros, 6-5, on Saturday night at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (boxscore)

Analysis:  Take away McHugh’s performance and this was a good night for the Astros. The rest of the pitching staff combined to hold the Braves to one hit — a solo homer off Tony Sipp — over the final 5 2/3 innings, with James Hoyt (two-thirds of an inning), Luke Gregerson (one inning), Chad Qualls (one inning), Michael Feliz (one inning) and Kevin Chapman (one inning) working efficiently.

“I thought Kevin Chapman was fantastic coming in and taking some things he was working on with [pitching coach Brent Strom] in the bullpen into the game,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Gregerson looked good, Qualls looked really sharp. Tony Sipp gave up the solo homer, but was fine. Michael Feliz was bringing heat tonight. He’s got a good arm. For a young kid who hasn’t got to pitch a ton this spring, it’s good to see him let it loose.”

McHugh also hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt and allowed six hits in his outing. He said he’s still trying to get the feel for his curveball.

“We did a couple of good things, but overall obviously not super pleased with the way it turned out,” McHugh said.  “It’s Spring Training so people are going to say, ‘You’re here to work on things, you’re here to get better or ready for the season to start,’ which is true. Every time I get on the mound, I’m ready to fight and I’m ready to battle. Nobody likes results like this today.”

Said Hinch:”He pitched in a lot of duress tonight, which was a little taxing for him. He had a tough time getting into counts, had a tough time putting hitters away, so he worked through a little bit. As I told him when I took him out of the game, it was a volume day when he got his pitches up past 60 and pitched in duress. That’s all you can take away from this one.”

Offensively, the Astros had 11 hits, with Robbie Grossman (2-for-3) staying hot. Nine other players had one hit, including a triple by Jonathan Villar and homers by Colby Rasmus — his first of the spring — and Minor League Player of the Year Brett Phillips.

Player of the game: RHP Michael Feliz struck out two of the three batters he faced in relief.

Notable: IF Jonathan Villar, who started at third base, left the game after he was hit above the right knee with a pitch, but Hinch said he was fine.

Quotable:

“I’m floating on a cloud right now. It was a great feeling, for sure,” Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year Brett Phillips on his ninth-inning homer Saturday.

“I kind of got singled to death out there, which sometimes is worse because it’s a carousel on the bases,”Collin McHugh on his outing against the Braves

Up next: Asher Wojciechowski, who’s competing for the final spot in the rotation, makes his first start of the Grapefruit League season when the Astros face the Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Wojciechowski, who missed all of spring camp last year with a strained lat and missed a month later in the season with a strained forearm flexor, is finally healthy. He appeared in 15 games (14 starts) at Oklahoma City and was 4-4 with a 4.74 ERA, including 3-1 with a 3.11 ERA in his final six starts.

Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) will start Monday’s split-squad game in Viera against the Nationals. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw his second live bullpen session Saturday. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) began his throwing program and will begin the day on the DL.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

— Story and video: Lowrie looking forward to being part of Astros’ bright future.

Peacock throws a second round of live batting practice.

Hinch effusive for his praise of Deduno.

Former Astros GM Al Rosen passes away.

Called over from Minor League camp, Brett Phillips seizes moment.

Tweet of the day

Game 7: Altuve, Marisnick lead charge on offense

The facts: Gregorio Petit’s single to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Joe Sclafani from third base with the winning run and lifted the Astros to a 4-3 victory over Brad Ausmus’ Tigers at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Analysis: Jose Altuve is probably ready for the season. He went 3-for-3 on Thursday, including a double and an RBI single, and he stole a base. He and Jake Marisnick (2-for-2) accounted for half of the Astros’ 10 hits. Marisnick and Altuve are both hitting .417 after one week of spring games.

On the mound, Dan Straily turned up the intensity a notch and worked three innings, allowing three hits and one run.

“We’ve challenged him to throw strike one and pitch ahead,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He struggled with that in the third inning, but for the most part he’s mixing his pitches. When he’s right, he’s getting ahead of hitters and expanding with his secondary pitches. I know he felt better today. He told me that. He was a little more synched up with his delivery and his pitches. That’s progress.”

Pat Neshek, who two days ago thought he might have to wear a protective boot on his right foot, threw a scoreless inning, and Joe Thatcher’s strong spring continued when he retired all four batters he faced, even a few lefties, as Hinch tried to use him in a spot that simulated a regular season situation for the lefty.

Will Harris also threw a scoreless inning to keep his scorecard clean, but Alex White allowed three hits and two runs and walked two batters in 1 2/3 innings.

Player of the game: 2B Jose Altuve (3-for-3, double, RBI).

Notable: Hinch said RHP Asher Wojciechowski will start Sunday’s game against the Nationals. “He’s earned a longer look,” he said. It’s Brett Oberholtzer’s day to pitch, and he’ll work in a Minor League game.

Quotable:

“I can sort of tear up like a proud parent when we work on it for 10 straight days and we get one in the game,” — manager A.J. Hinch on RHP Alex White picking off a runner at second base.

“When I first got called up in 2010, Brandon Lyon called me over and asked where I went to school and I told him [Stanford], and he said, ‘Alright, you’re our new player rep.’ I didn’t even know what that meant. I had to find out later what he was even talking about. I welcomed it with open arms,” — catcher Jason Castro on his role as team representative to the MLBPA.

Up next: Right-hander Scott Feldman, who started on Opening Day for the Astros last year, will make his second start of the spring when the Astros travel to Viera, Fla., to face the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday. Feldman will be followed by Roberto Hernandez, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation who’s scheduled to throw three innings. Luke Gregerson, Josh Fields and Jake Buchanan are also scheduled to throw.

Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) could return to the mound by the weekend. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) will take batting practice on the field Friday and could return to action Saturday. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) has progressed to throwing live bullpens. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) began his throwing program and will begin the day on the DL.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

Hinch envisions Valbuena getting plenty of playing time.

Castro had a front-row seat to Will Ferrell’s previous baseball foray.

Straily incorporates tweaked curveball into game plan.

Velasquez starts throwing program.

MLBPA chief Tony Clark addresses Astros.

Game 6: Stassi’s blast overcomes Cardinals

The facts: Astros catcher Max Stassi blasted a two-run homer off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal in the seventh inning that snapped a tie and sent the Astros to a 7-6 win on Tuesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

Analysis: The Astros’ bats showed some life with 10 hits, including five extra-base hits (four doubles). Luis Valbuena, in the lineup at DH, went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, and Jed Lowrie doubled in each of his first two at-bats. Colby Rasmus had a two-run double in the fourth inning off a left-handed pitcher, which manager A.J. Hinch thought was encouraging.

On the mound, Brett Oberholtzer sailed through two innings before running into some traffic in the third and giving up a pair of runs, but everyone was happy with his day.

“I had to work a little bit, but for the most part I was pretty efficient,” Oberholtzer said. “I felt better today than I did my first start, which is expected of myself. I think the biggest thing I got out of today’s outing is make a better pitch 0-2, 1-2 when I’m ahead put guys away. I threw strikes which is something you always want to do in Spring Training. But like I said, I think I have to do a better job next outing finishing guys off, or at least throwing some balls there to change the thought process for them.”

HInch was asked what Oberholtzer needed to do to lock down the fourth spot in the rotation.

“I think he just needs to continue to pitch,” he said. “There were some good things that happened today, especially early. He ran into a little bit of trouble and gave up some hits. He needs to focus on continuing to throw strike one, work with a good tempo. I trust Obie with the ball every five days. That’s probably all he needs to know at this point.”

Chad Qualls worked a scoreless innings, and Josh Fields and Luke Gregerson each gave up one run, with Fields surrendering a homer to Jacob Wilson. Sam Deduno got the win in relief by allowing three hits and one run while striking out three in three innings.

“I thought Deduno continued to pitch well,” Hinch said. “He had a lot of movement on his pitches, really breezed through his outings. We had a couple of key hits. It’s good to see Lowrie have a couple of key hits. Altuve finished with a positive note with his hit. Colby Rasmus with runners in scoring position against a lefty, that’s a good sign.”

Player of the game: C Max Stassi.

“It’s something I got in the tank,” he said of his power. “I’ve always kind of had it like that, you know? I don’t really try to elevate and hit the ball in the air, that direction. It’s something that it just comes out and, you know, trying to hit the ball hard. That’s it.”

Notable: Jon Singleton has struck out only three times in 14 at-bats so far this spring.

Quotable:

“That’s big-boy territory. It’s hard to rag a guy when he goes dead-center off a guy with a pretty good resume. That’s a big hit,” — manager A.J. Hinch on catcher Max Stassi’s homer off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Up next: The Astros aren’t scheduled to play in Grapefruit League action on Wednesday, but they have scheduled a “B” game against the Braves for 9 a.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. Dallas Keuchel will pitch three innings for the Astros. Jonathan Villar, an infielder, is also scheduled to get a look in the outfield during the game. Houston returns to Grapefruit League play Thursday against the Tigers when Dan Straily takes the mound in Kissimmee..

Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) says he’s ready to pitch after being scratched from his outing Monday, but the Astros want him to pitch in the bullpen first. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) is day to day after getting hit by a pitch and could return to action Thursday. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) will throw a live bullpen session on Wednesday. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

Bagwell lending a hand at Astros camp.

Neshek sidelined with soreness in right foot.

Appel ready to go after bout with tight forearm.

Astros looking to stay active on the base paths.

Tweet of the day

Game 5: Pitching rules the day

The facts: The Astros scratched out a run in the sixth inning to back their strong pitching and beat the Blue Jays, 1-0, on Monday afternoon in Dunedin, Fla. (boxscore).

Analysis: Four Astros pitchers combined to shut out the Jays, who had just five hits. Collin McHugh threw three innings and has yet to allow a run in two starts (five innings), and Roberto Hernandez made his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros and tossed two scoreless innings with two walks.

McHugh, who says he usually struggles in the spring, has been sharp.

“My arm feels great,”  he said. “I felt the ball was coming out. There’s a radar gun on the scoreboard so I peeked every once and while – I don’t know how accurate it was – but to see if it felt good coming out and to see what that actually translated into. I’ll go back and look tomorrow and watch a little video and see how it came out.”

Asher Wojciechowski came on strong by striking out three batters and allowing two hits in three innings, and Will Harris worked the ninth for the save.

“Great day of pitching today,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Everybody that took the ball, threw strikes and got out of a couple of jams, used all their pitches. I thought Wojo had a really good showing. He had a little extra velocity, had all of his pitches working and really showed well. It was good to see Roberto on the mound for the first time.”

At the plate, Jon Singleton went 2-for-3 with a double to raise his spring average to .500 (5-for-10).

Players of the game: RHP Asher Wojciechowski.

Notable: Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick, didn’t pitch because he reported a mild strain of his right forearm.

Quotable:

“Right out of Santo Domingo to two bullpens to live action. There’s a reason he’s got quite a bit of service time. He knows how to get himself ready,” — manager A.J. Hinch on spring debut of RHP Roberto Hernandez, who showed up at camp less than a week ago following visa issues.

Up next: Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer makes his second start of the spring when the Astros return home to face the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT Tuesday at Osceola County Stadium. Oberholtzer, the leading candidate to win the fourth spot in the rotation, gave up four hits and one unearned run in two innings in his first out of the Grapefruit League on Friday.

Injury report: RHP Mark Appel (mild right forearm strain) was scratched from his outing on Monday. … OF Preston Tucker (bruised right hand) is day to day after getting hit by a pitch. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) is throwing routinely in the bullpen with the target of facing live hitters in the March 10-12 window. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound.

Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/

Links of the day:

Richard Justice column: Rigorous prep has Altuve elite.

Evan Gattis still trying to get comfortable in left field.

Story and video: Appel scratched with right forearm tightness.

Defensive wiz Marisnick has a chance to win job in center

Grossman brings aggressive approach to roster battle.

Tweet of the day

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 83 other followers