Results tagged ‘ Astros ’
The Astros moved their spring workouts to the stadium field at Osceola County Stadium, where a team managed by Adam Everett beat a team managed by Morgan Ensberg, 10-4. The hitters were batting against a pitching machine that threw nothing but curveballs.
The teams combined for five home runs – Carlos Correa, Max Stassi, L.J. Hoes, Jonathan Meyer and Domingo Santana. Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, got cooler of liquid and ice dumped on his head after the game.
“It was cold,” he said. “I don’t think I need the cold tub anymore after today. You enjoy those kinds of moments, especially with your teammates. It was fun.”
Astros manager Bo Porter was happy with what he saw from his club following a couple of days when he voiced some displeasure about the drills on the back fields.
“Extremely happy about today, the entire day,” he said. “The work early on in the workout, and I felt like the intrasqaud game was really good because these guys had the opportunity to compete and play the game of baseball.”
Because the day was so productive the players got their work in running the bases earlier in the morning, strength and conditioning coach Jake Beiting told Porter no post-workout conditioning was needed.
“He said, ‘Bo, that’s about as good a conditioning as you can get,’” he said.
Here’s the day in pictures:
Several Astros players and staff members joined with other teams in posing with the Venezuela flag and signs that read “PAZ, TODOS UNIDOS, HERMANDAD” in Spanish in a plea for peace for a nation in crisis. The sign loosely translated in English reads “peace, together, brotherhood.”
Venezuela has seen an increase in violence in the last few weeks as the government has tried to subdue a protest movement. The Astros who posed together included native Venezuelans Jose Altuve, Marwin Gonzalez, Jesus Guzman, Cesar Izturis, David Martinez, Carlos Perez, Gregario Petit and Ronald Torreyes. Players from other nations, such as Carlos Corporan and Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico, also participated, along with bullpen Javier Bracamonte and bullpen assistant Carlos Munoz, both of whom are from Venezuela.
Bracamonte, a native of Caracas, spoke following the display of unity and explained to reporters how difficult things are in the country. Bracamonte, who was a victim of violence himself three years ago when he was held at gunpoint during a bank robbery in his home country, is hesitant to take his daughter to Venezuela to meet his family.
“I want my daughter to know when I came from and see the neighborhood where I grew up,” he said. “I have brothers and sisters that want to see my daughter, but I’m a little afraid.”
Bracamonte was in Venezuela a few months ago for winter ball with J.D. Martinez, who’s from Miami, and he could sense the tension.
“I have two friends of mine that died very young of heart attacks, and I think it’s because of the stress of the whole country,” he said. “[While in winter ball] we didn’t do anything outside the hotel and just go to the ballpark and that’s what it was. I went to see my family for a few days and they didn’t do anything outside. I just went to the ballpark to the hotel to the ballpark.”
“The good thing is they have security for the players to go pick them up and drop them off at the hotel, and a bunch of those guys live in the hotel that way they feel safe. … It’s been tough. You see all the video. Right now there’s no media covering it because they’re kicking people out. The only thing you see is by phone or Facebook or Twitter and you see a lot of people filming.”
Munoz, who’s from Maracaibo, said it’s difficult for his family in his homeland to find basic supplies like food and soap.
“I think we’ve gone back like 60, 70 years,” he said.
The Astros had to alter their schedule Saturday because of early-morning rain showers, with the pitchers throwing live batting practice first to make sure they got their work in before more rain fell. As far as the position players are concerned, they took batting practice and then worked in a large group focusing on defensive drills.
“We had some weather early on, so we wanted to make sure our pitchers that were scheduled to throw live, we wanted to keep them on schedule,” manager Bo Porter said. “We were able to get that in, and it turned into a defensive day from that point on.”
Porter said the defense needs improvement, which meant the players weren’t able to give each other the post-workout “Astros win!” handshake.
“We didn’t execute, and that’s why we actually turning into a day of execution from the defensive side of it,” Porter said. “We all understand the game of baseball. It’s about runs being scored, and I’m a firm believer that the best offense is a good defense. We have to defend the baseball.”
That’s more about just making the throws or fielding cleanly, Porter said.
“We’ve explained this to our guys, from a defensive standpoint it’s not just the physical aspect of making the plays,” he said. “There are a lot of mental things that go into positioning, situations, understanding what to do, what not to do, given the situation. We’re going to put our guys in as many of those situations as possible throughout the course of the spring to try to emphasize the importance of these decisions based on situations.”
Astros manager Bo Porter plans to simulate the use of instant replay as much as he can during Grapefruit League play, even though he won’t always have access to a replay monitor. For Porter, it’s about identifying potential plays to challenge and learning the terminology and what he can or can’t do.
Officials from Major League Baseball, led by Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, briefed the Astros, Nationals, Tigers and Braves during a two-hour, 45-minute meeting Friday on expanded instant replay that will begin this year.
“They did a tremendous job of putting the information together and kind of giving us scenarios,” Porter said. “It was long, but it was very much needed, and I think it was very beneficial at the same time.”
Porter said one of the issues that was addressed during the meeting was the timing of when you can challenge a call.
“There were some questions that came up, ‘OK, if you have to make it before a pitching change is being made, if that guy leaves the bullpen, when does that constitute him being in the game?’” Porter said. “We were able to kind of clarify all of those issues, and I think everybody left there yesterday feeling comfortable with the rules, and it’s a thing we’re actually going to be able to put into practice this spring.”
Torre said each time will have at least five games during Spring Training during which it can implement replay, but the Astros are going to have their own program and use walkie-talkies if there’s no access to a phone.
“We’re going to go ahead and start from Day 1 and implement our process among myself, [bench coach] Dave [Trembley], the coaching staff, the video people, so we can practice it the entire spring,” Porter said.
Odds and ends
- Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who was named the Astros executive advisor two weeks ago, will arrive in camp on March 10. As part of his duties, Ryan will work with Astros owner Jim Crane, president of business operations Reid Ryan and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
- The Astros will play an intrasquad game Sunday against a curveball machine, with the losing team serving the winning team lunch and banana splits. An intrasquad game against live pitching will be held Thursday, one day before the Grapefruit League opener.
- Astros owner Jim Crane was scheduled to arrived in Kissimmee, Fla., be in camp Saturday, but morning rains kept him away.
- Not much new to report on the injury front this morning as pitchers Asher Wojciechowski (lat), Jesse Crain (calf) and Jorge De Leon (right quad) are dealing with various injuries. Porter said De Leon was moving around more Saturday, but they’re still awaiting results of an MRI. Wojciechowski felt pain throwing Thursday in his back/shoulder are and won’t throw for a few days.
Here’s a couple of morning photos from rainy Kissimmee:
The goal for Astros pitcher Scott Feldman was to simply not hit anybody. Feldman and a handful of other pitchers faced live hitters for the first time Friday, throwing for about 15 minutes on the back fields against teammates.
“You’re just getting reacquainted with the mound and seeing hitters out there and trying to get all my pitches over and work with the catchers a little bit,” Feldman said. “Trying not to hit anybody is probably the most important thing.”
In years past, hitters would typically stand in the box during the first days of live batting practice and simply track the pitches with their eyes. The Astros this year gave hitters certain in-game scenarios to focus on when they stepped into the box.
“Throughout the years, it’s been called pitching practice, and the hitters would get in there and see their five pitches and get out,” manager Bo Porter said. “It’s something as a staff we talked about and wanted to try to get a little bit more out of that situation, so our hitting coaches put together a program that put these guys into situations and counts to intensify it for the hitter.”
Porter says it allows the hitters to sharpen their mind while the pitchers get their work in, as well.
“You train yourself from a mental standpoint of executing that situation,” he said.
Here’s the day in pictures:
After the Astros finish the second day of full-squad workouts on Friday, manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley will take part in a meeting with Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, and Peter Woodfork, senior vice president for baseball operations, to get the lowdown on instant replay.
Porter said the bench coaches from the Tigers and the Braves, both of whom train relatively close to Osceola County Stadium, will also take part in the meeting. MLB approved the use of expanded replay for the 2014, which includes managers being able to challenge calls.
Porter has been a proponent of replay.
“You have something in your pocket that can definitely impact the game, and we didn’t have that in previous years,” he said. “I’ve always been an advocate to do everything we can to get it right, and this is a huge step forward for Major League Baseball, given the amount of technology we have. It puts us in position get the calls right.”
In injury news, right-hander Jorge De Leon is nursing a strained right quad.
Friday was photo day for the Astros, which meant they took turns at various photo stations prior to workout:
With almost all of the position players have reported to camp Wednesday, the Astros will hit the field Thursday for the first full-squad workout of the spring. There was no shortage of news Wednesday, with the arrival of Roger Clemens, a calf injury to Jesse Crain and news Japhet Amador wasn’t reporting.
Many position players have been here for days, hitting in the cages and on the field in groups later in the day. They’ll be hard at it Thursday doing defensive drills and conditioning working along with the pitchers and catchers, who have four days of camp under their belts.
“When you have this many guys show up early, it almost feels like you’ve had a full workout just because we had so many guys that are here,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “I just got finished commending the position players. It’s not every day you have pretty much your entire contingent of position players show up two, three, four days early and have the type of workouts and size of workouts they’ve been able to have.
“I think after we’ve had so many guys here already, it almost feels like we’ve had the whole team here.”
One player who had yet to report to camp as of 1 p.m. ET Wednesday was first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who was expected to be on the field Thursday.
“I think he will be here,” Porter said. “One of the guys told me they went to call him and the phone went to voice mail, so they think he’s on his way here on a flight. … I commend those guys who came in early, but at the same time it is voluntary and you don’t have to be here until Thursday.”
Porter will have different groups of position players lead the daily “break point” drills, when the players are given an in-game scenario to execute at the end of workouts. And like last year, there will be the daily shaking of hands on the field reminiscent of what takes place when the Astros win.
“We’re looking forward to it as a staff, and I’m pretty sure the players will be excited about it,” he said
Porter said he plans to address the full squad Thursday like he did five days earlier when pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time. Owner Jim Crane is not expected to be in camp Thursday to talk to the team.
“I’ve said this to the catchers and pitchers and the position players will hear the same message tomorrow,” Porter said. “The training wheels are off. It’s either you can ride a bike without training wheels or you’ll find down and we’ll pick you up and get you on your way.”
When manager Bo Porter addressed the Astros pitchers and catchers on the field prior to Wednesday’s workout, he could be overheard raising his voice and telling his team they’re actions were “disrespectful.” Porter was asked about the incident following the workout and said it stemmed from the daily 9 a.m. ET meeting, which he calls a “synergistic chemistry lab” for the players. Seven-time Cy Young award winner and Astros special advisor Roger Clemens was visiting camp to speak to the club and not all the players were ready.
“Obviously, as an organization we’re fortunate to have some people like Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio and different people that will come in here over the course of the year and speak to our ballclub,” Porter said. “Even that being said, we have the 9 o’clock meeting when it comes to the synergistic chemistry lab.
“Out of respect to your teammates, out of respect to the people that take time out of their day to come out there and try to do everything they can to help this organization, it’s the right thing to do to make sure you’re dressed and ready and attentive when that person shows up or when it’s time for a team meeting.”
Porter appointed a handful of veterans earlier this week to lead a closed-door players-only team meeting each day at 9 a.m. He’s not in the meetings, but he walked Clemens into the clubhouse Wednesday and didn’t like what he saw from some players.
“From a respect standpoint, you should give them that respect,” he said.
Pitcher Brett Oberholtzer said Porter brings the passion every day. “As a manager, you have to be that way I feel like,” he said. “With a younger ballclub in the Major League, it works.”
Seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens arrived in Astros camp Wednesday and went right to work, watching two groups of pitchers throw in the bullpen. He pulled a few of the guys aside to work on mechanics, including Lucas Harrell and Jared Cosart.
“I love it because when I was young, I was fortunate to have some veteran players around that I wasn’t afraid to ask pointed questions,” Clemens said. “I paid attention to detail and enjoyed watching. If I can fire them up and get them all excited and still give them a little reality, that’s good.”
Clemens, who will be in camp again Thursday and plans to show up next month at some point, is a special advisor to the club. He said the team’s young pitchers need to step up this year, a point he made when he addressed the pitchers and catchers.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Clemens said. “We talked about the expectations that there’s more than a handful of guys that have opportunity, and they need to take a big step forward. Spring Training, everybody’s all giddy right now and then you start the season and everybody gets punched in the face, and it’s not a lot of fun. I think they’re taking the kid gloves off them a little bit and asking a lot of them to step up.”
Clemens revels in the chance to help young pitchers, and the Astros certainly have no shortage of those guys. His impact with the Astros goes beyond Spring Training. Last year, he was sent on special assignments to watch some Minor League players and potential Draft picks, and the Astros sent him to Los Angeles last month to try to lure Masahiro Tanaka.
But the chance to work one-on-one with the pitchers in the spring is what he finds the most enjoyable.
“That was something that was said today also — obviously, it’s not working for some of you so you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing,” he said. “If you need to do some extra work, conditioning, whatever, it might be to make you mentally tougher than the next guy. With all the conditioning I did over my career, that really helped me feel like I had an edge over the next guy.”
The Astros will executive advisor Nolan Ryan in camp sometime next month as well.
“Last year, I was in the clubhouse when he spoke to the players,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said of Clemens. “He able to not only give the appropriate messages to the pitchers, but also to the catchers and position players [Clemens didn't address position players Wednesday]. He really understands our philosophy as an organization. He’s been a part of this organization for a long time and he sees eye to eye with everything we’re doing, and it was so much credibility from a player who’s won seven Cy Young awards.”
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Wednesday morning right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain suffered a right calf strain Tuesday when he was doing exercises in the gym and will undergo an MRI to make sure there’s no structural damage.
“He came in feeling better this morning,” Luhnow said. “It was sore, so we’re going to modify his throwing program a little bit in light of that. We’ll know more information the next couple of days, but that will be some sort of setback. We’ll continue to try and get him to work on his arm strength, but we’ll keep the calf injury in mind.”
Crain has yet to throw off the mound and is recovering from biceps surgery performed in October. Luhnow said he’ll probably have to throw from his knees during workouts to keep his arm loose.
He was an All-Star in 2013, posting 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-inning scoreless streak. He didn’t pitch after being traded to the Rays on July 29 because of the injury.
Meanwhile, first baseman Japhet Amador won’t report to camp on Wednesday or any time soon, Luhnow said. Amador is in Mexico with what would only call a family emergency.
“He’s not going to be here, and we don’t know what the next steps are with him,” Luhnow said. “For now, he needs to spend some time with his family, so he won’t be showing up here today. Other than that, we expect everybody else to be here.”
Amador, a 6-foot-4, 311-pound slugger who signed out of the Mexican League last year and played in the Arizona Fall League, was going to compete at first base with Jesus Guzman, Brett Wallace, Jonathan Singleton and Marc Krauss at first base.
“When things happen to your family, you tend not to think about next steps,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to give him the time that he needs, but right now we’re proceeding as if he’s not going be here during Spring Training. He was one of the players that was going to be in the mix for first base, but we have several others here who are going to compete hard for the position and we’ll find the right guy or pair of guys.”