Results tagged ‘ Astros ’

Hernandez arrives at Astros camp

Despite feeling under the weather, veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez reported to Astros camp on Thursday morning and threw in the bullpen. Hernandez, whose arrival was two weeks late because of visa issues, flew from his native Dominican Republic on Wednesday night.

Hernandez, who signed a Minor League deal on Feb. 12, said he’ll throw in the bullpen again Saturday and should be ready to be inserted into Grapefruit League games. He worked out in the Dominican while he awaited his paperwork to arrive.

“We’ve got to get him off the bullpen mound and then gauge,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s prepared. He’s been working out at the main stadium in Santo Domingo. When he tells me he’s ready, he’ll be inserted. I’m just glad he’s here. Let’s get through one day first and then we’ll plan it out.”

Hernandez, 34, went 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) combined with the Phillies and Dodgers last season. The veteran will compete for a spot in the rotation with Brad Peacock, Dan Straily, Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski, Sam Deduno and Jake Buchanan.

“This is the first time it’s happened to me to compete for a spot, but I’m ready,” Hernandez said. “I’m not trying to do too much, but I’m ready.”

Hernandez, known as Fausto Carmona when he won 19 games for the Indians in 2007, was arrested in January 2012 outside the U.S. consulate for using a false identity and could not return to the United States until he obtained a visa. Houston general manager Luhnow said that situation wasn’t an issue in his late arrival this year.

Day 12: Quick workout in advance of game action

The Astros were on the field for less than two hours Wednesday as manager A.J. Hinch put the team through a quick workout prior to the start of Grapefruit League action on Thursday against the Phillies.

“It was good,” Hinch said. “We did a quick shift drill and then jumped right into BP. We’ve been leaning on these guys pretty hard, so the volume of exercise need to go down a little bit. Give them a long afternoon off and guys can do whatever they need to do. We threw a lot and ran a lot yesterday. It was a good pre-workout to our first game.”

The team will continue to work out in the mornings throughout the spring on game days. On days when the Astros are playing road games in Lakeland (Tigers), Viera (Nationals) and Lake Buena Vista, the Astros will work out at Osceola County Stadium in the morning before traveling for the games.

Quote of the day

“I think we’ve practiced enough. It’s time for us to see where we’re at in games and get a little bit of gauge against competition in game speed,”– A.J. Hinch on the start of Grapefruit League play.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw in the bullpen again Tuesday as he progresses towards a live bullpen session. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


Dominguez embraces chance to learn first base.

Hernandez obtains visa, will report to camp Friday.

Berkman to be inducted into College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hinch plans to ease Astros veterans into game action.

Tweet of the day


Day 11: Almost time for game action

After another day of team fundamentals and batting practice under the Florida sun, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday afternoon he’s ready for games. The Astros fire up Grapefruit League action Thursday when they face the Phillies at 12:05 p.m. at Osceola County Stadium, but they’ll work out Wednesday morning in their final short day of the spring.

“We need to get some game action, we need to pick up the tempo, obviously,” he said. “Doesn’t mean things are always going to be pretty, but game speed and game competition are clearly what’s needed. We’ve prepared and now we’ve got to go execute.”

The Astros worked on base running and did a sliding exercise on Tuesday as Hinch wants to make sure the players have practiced everything prior to getting into games so they can react appropriately.

“We’ve incorporated the base running, we’ve practiced our shifting, that type of stuff,” he said. “You try to hit everything before games start as a refresher for these guys.”

Quote of the day

“If they’re safe, I love it,”– A.J. Hinch on head-first slides.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw in the bullpen again Tuesday as he progresses towards a live bullpen session. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) still isn’t able to throw off the mound.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


Hinch lining up a seven-man bullpen.

Tweet of the day



Day 9: Pitchers nearing game shape

The Astros are inching closer towards games, and manager A.J. Hinch believes his pitchers are just about ready to get in game action. Two groups of pitchers threw live batting practice Sunday, with the other two groups set to do the same Monday. They will throw again Tuesday and Wednesday before hitting the field to face the Phillies on Thursday.

“Today was a good day of work,” Hinch said. “I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to get so much activity on the field. Coming to the stadium, I was a little bit nervous about how wet [the fields] were going to be, but the grounds crew here did a great job of getting the field ready. We did everything we wanted to do. We had to do pickoffs and rundowns at a little bit of slower pace just out of safety for the fields because they were soft, but getting all of our work in was great.”

Indeed, the Astros had coaches “run” the bases for pickoff and rundown drills.

“You put players out there and they get going a little bit, so we wanted to control the pace so there was slipping, no hamstrings, no groins, no issues,” Hinch said. “We’ll run it at a little bit faster tempo probably Wednesday.”

Left-handed reliever Luis Cruz played catch Sunday, but didn’t throw in the bullpen because of a bruised hand. He said he could throw in the bullpen Monday and expects to be ready for games.

“We’ll keep evaluating him,” Hinch said.

Among the pitchers who stood out to Hinch on Sunday was veteran Scott Feldman.

“His work is never a doubt,” he said. “He was very methodical, he has a routine, he knows what he’s trying to do. I can see him trying to execute pitchers with a little more precision this time around. He’s a pro’s pro. That’s what he is and that’s how he works out.”

Hinch also what he liked he saw from Mark Appel, Josh Fields and Dallas Keuchel.

“Keuchel, it’s all business when it’s his day to throw,” Hinch said. “His command is noticeable.”

Quote of the day

“I always thought the outfielders didn’t really do much in the spring, but they’re kicking my butt out there, which is really good for me,” — Evan Gattis on making the transition to outfielder.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) remains on his own schedule as he works his arm back in shape. … LHP Luis Cruz (bruised finger) played catch Sunday and could throw a bullpen Monday. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


McHugh in line to start the Grapefruit League opener.

Wojciechowski pumped to be healthy, competing.

Astros prospect Matt Duffy has a baseball namesake.

Gattis getting in work exclusively in the outfield.

Minor Leaguers will hit the field Monday for minicamp.


Hinch talks Astros starting pitching

Marisnick likes energy in camp

Astros tuning up at camp in preparation for 2015.

Tweet of the day:

Day 5: Position players take the field

After hearing from owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch in a team meeting Wednesday morning, 59 orange-clad Astros players hit the field for the first full-squad workout of the spring under cloudy skies.

“The guys reported in shape, they reported with a lot of enthusiasm and we got a lot of work in,” Hinch said. “The weather held off. We had a good day.”

Position players will rotate through different fundamentals daily before taking batting practice each day. Coaches threw batting practice on Wednesday, but the position players will face live pitching for the first time Thursday when the pitchers get back on the mound.

“We’ll get a team fundamental in every day – cut-offs and relays, bunt coverage, first and thirds, rundowns, those types of things,” Hinch said. “Much of the early part of camp will be centered around the pitchers’ readiness. Tomorrow we’re going to get some live batting practice where the pitchers are throwing to our hitters.

“We’ll have another team fundamental. We’ll mix it up a little bit, and we got back and forth on purpose, just not to have a monotonous workout every day. Early in camp until games start, we have two sections that we change every day. One is how many pitchers throw live batting practice, and two is the team fundamental.”

The only pitcher who threw in the bullpen Wednesday was Brad Peacock, who gets an extra day of rest between bullpens while he makes his way back from off-season hip surgery.

“Peacock was great,” Hinch said. “He’s healthy and it was another good step in the right direction. It was very encouraging to watch him bounce back into his second bullpen. You can tell he feels good. He’s starting to get a little irritated if he doesn’t executive a pitch, so it’s a good sign.”

Quotes of the day

“This is definitely the year we’re going to the playoffs,”Jose Altuve.

“He’s a caveman. He does everything 150 percent with some conviction behind it,”A.J. Hinch on Evan Gattis.

“There’s 60 people in that room, and there’s a lot of talent in that room. I’d put it on par with just about any organization,” – GM Jeff Luhnow.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw his second bullpen Wednesday without incident. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


Story AND Video: Crane’s goal is to make the playoffs.

Story: Carlos Correa focused on base running this year.

Story AND Video: Astros taking health of players to another level.

VIDEO: Springer talks about his mohawk

VIDEO: Altuve feels like Brad Pitt.

Day 4: Here come the position players

Astros pitchers threw their final bullpens Tuesday before facing live hitters. With the full squad set to work out for the first time Wednesday, the pitchers will take a day off from throwing before ratcheting it back up by facing hitters on Thursday – a week before the first Spring Training game.

Manager A.J. Hinch continues to be impressed by how well-prepared his pitchers are this spring.

“I think some of the readiness of the pitchers to get into games or into simulated games has been notable,” he said. “The number of guys that have come in here and told me they threw simulated innings, they’re up and running, there’s not too many guys easing into these bullpens. I don’t know if it surprised me, but it’s a pleasant surprise if I’ve been surprised.”

Hinch said the quality to attention to detail has been good.

“That’s expected at this level,” he said. “I don’t want to dive too much into things being surprising, but I expect a lot because this is the big leagues. Guys are coming and the focus is there and I’m happy with that.”

Before the full squad hits the field on Wednesday, the Astros will hold a team meeting. Hinch will talk to the team, and typically general manager Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane will say a few words as well.

“I’ll have a couple of words for the whole team and then we’ll get on the field,” Hinch said. “I think the tone and the vibe of camp has been good, and I think the pitchers and catchers that have been here will be able to show and live with that, with the position players. There’s some messages to send, some introductions to be made, and then there’s a full-squad workout.”

Quotes of the day

“It’s hard to embarrass a guy who wears a beard like that,” Hinch joking about singling out bearded Dallas Keuchel in clubhouse.

“I’d prefer no dive. It’s the one thing that we didn’t mention beforehand is we’d like them stay on their feet, but we corrected it afterwards,”Hinch on 6-7 pitcher Scott Feldman taking all-out dive to try to field a ball during PFPs on Tuesday.

“I know he wants to prepare to play every day. From our early conversations, he doesn’t know what a day off is. That’s fine by me.”Hinch on Jose Altuve.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw 20 fastballs in the bullpen Sunday in his first action since having surgery and is progressing well. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks. … RHP Josh Fields (left hamstring tightness) threw in the bullpen Tuesday without incident

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


Hinch says there’s no pressure on Altuve to repeat as batting champ

Fields hopes hamstring issue is behind  him

Tweet of the day

Day 3: Intensity gets ramped up

It was another smooth day at Astros camp on Monday as the first and second pitching groups got on the mound for the second time, and for the final time before facing hitters later in the week. The only pitcher who didn’t throw was right-hander Josh Fields, who has slight tightness in his left hamstring and has been pushed back by one day.

“Guys are getting a little bit intensity, turning it up just a touch,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “The bullpens were a little crisper and guys are getting ready. They know their next outing they’ll face hitters when the full squad gets here. You can see a little bit of the dial being turned up a touch. These first four days are more about getting their legs underneath the pitchers and the catchers getting familiar with the pitchers. We’re accomplishing that slowly but surely.”

Jed Lowrie and Luis Valbuena were two of several position players who showed up at camp Monday, one day before the mandatory date to report. Some position players, such as Evan Gattis, George Springer, Jon Singleton and Robbie Grossman, have been in camp for a few days, and they were joined Monday by Gregorio Petit, Joe Sclafani, Nolan Fontana, Domingo Santana, Jake Marisnick and Andrew Aplin, among others.

“There’s been a number of guys who have been here the last couple of days,” Hinch said. “We’ve had voluntary workouts going on and they’ve been able to get on the field. You start implementing team fundamentals. The second day of full squads, they’ll have live batting practice to those guys. It gets up and running at a rapid pace.”

As far as Fields is concerned, he did participate in bunt defense and the other PFPs, but just won’t throw until Tuesday.

Quotes of the day

“I’ll have to rely on Super Cuts,” Manager A.J. Hinch on his need for a haircut while on the road.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) threw 20 fastballs in the bullpen Sunday in his first action since having surgery and felt fine Monday. … RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks. … RHP Josh Fields (left hamstring tightness) had his bullpen session scheduled for Monday pushed back a day.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


Astros, MLB huddle to discuss pace-of-game procedures

Flores thrilled for opportunity with Astros

Lowrie, Valbuena find comfort in new surroundings


Day 1: Pitchers and catchers hit the field

Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field Saturday morning at Osceola County Stadium for the first day of workouts. Twenty-seven pitchers (Roberto Hernandez isn’t here yet) and six catchers were in action, while several position players, who don’t have to be here until next week, got in some work on the back fields as well.

“Today’s like Christmas morning,” first-year manager A.J. Hinch said. “You get out here and you get the uniform on and get the players on the field and it truly is the start of the season. We’re excited.”221 017

Prior to hitting the field, Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow held a meeting in which Hinch introduced his entire coaching staff. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who’s a special assistant to Luhnow, also spoke briefly to the group before observing the workout.

You can sense things are different in camp this year. Hinch has established a laid-back, communicative environment, and the added presence of accomplished veteran players like Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek have raised the expectations for a club that hasn’t had a winning record since 2008.

“We put a lot of work into this and now we get to see the beginnings of the end result,” Luhnow said. “Obviously, we’ve got six weeks and two days until Opening Day so we have some time and I told the guys this morning they need to pace themselves because the worst thing that can happens is they go too fast and hurt themselves. We’ve got some time – 30 Spring Training games between now and the end of the season, but we’re all anxious, champing at the bit, as they say, to see what the work they’ve put in all offseason and how it all paid off.”

Hinch cautioned the players to ease into workouts.

“We told them, ‘You’re not going to make the team this week and you’re not going to not make the team this week,'” he said. “There very much is a ramp into the spring. These guys are in such great shape and we’ve got a couple of guys that pitched in winter ball that were competing a couple of weeks ago. You do caution them to try to not make the team on the first day. If you’re not available, you can’t help us.”

Pitching groups one and two threw bullpens on Saturday, and groups three and four will do the same Sunday. Groups one and two will throw again Monday, and groups three and four will throw again Tuesday — the last day before facing live hitters.

Pitching group one: Scott Feldman, Dan Straily, Jake Buchanan, Tony Sipp, Luke Gregerson, Jordan Jankowski and Joe Thatcher.

Pitching group two: Dallas Keuchel, Mark Appel, Asher Wojciechowski, Luis Cruz, Josh Fields, James Hoyt.

Pitching group three: Collin McHugh, Alex White, Brady Rodgers, Chad Qualls, Kevin Chapman, Jason Stoffel, Roberto Hernandez (absent).

Pitching group four: Brett Oberholtzer, Sam Deduno, Michael Feliz, Pat Neshek, Darin Downs, Will Harris, Brad Peacock.

Quotes of the day

“He’s also part crazy,”Hinch on Double-A pitching coach Doug Brocail stepping in the batter’s box against Mark Appel.

“I think our fans expect more this year and rightly so. We’re on our way and we hope to deliver,” –– GM Jeff Luhnow.

“I tell people the only disappointment is I never got to throw to Yogi Berra, to Johnny Bench, that would have been a treat for me as a starting pitcher,”Roger Clemens.

Injury report: RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Sunday. RHP Vincent Velasquez (strained right lat) won’t throw for at least two-to-three weeks.

The day in photos can be found on my new Instagram page:


—  Astros have plenty of options to fill the close’s role.

Visa issues delay Hernandez’s arrival at camp.

Roger Clemens pays a visit to Astros camp.

Hinch stresses communication between pitchers and catchers.

Velasquez sidelined with a lat injury.

Tweets of the day

Astros make their Super Bowl picks

For the second year in a row, we asked some of the Astros to give us their Super Bowl predictions. Here they are:

President of business operations Reid Ryan: Seahawks 31, Patriots 30. “Seahawks battle back to take the lead late in the fourth. Patriots miss a 54-yard field goal as time expires.”

Manager A.J. Hinch: Seahawks 27, Patriots 24. “Great match up on both sides of the ball, and I think we have a chance for a great game. Dual threat QB in Russell Wilson is the difference maker for me.”

LHP Dallas Keuchel: Patriots 31, Seahawks 17. “Vince Wilfork wrecks shop on Seattle’s O-line.”

C Jason Castro: Seahawks 24, Patriots 17. “I have to say even though I’m a 49ers fan, I still have to stay with my Stanford allegiance.”

RHP Chad Qualls: Patriots 27, Seahawks 24: “Would rather see Gronk dance than Marshawn grab his junk.”

1B Jon Singleton: Seahawks 30, Patriots 10. “Only because my girlfriend is a Russell Wilson fan.”

RHP Scott Feldman: “Rooting for Patriots because Brady is from San Mateo. But I think beast mode will be too much. Seahawks 24-17. But go pats!”

C Max Stassi: Seahawks 27, Patriots 24.

DH Chris Carter: Patriots 24, Seahawks 17.

SS Jed Lowrie: Seahawks, 27, Patriots 21.

LHP Brett Oberholtzer: “I’m taking Brady and the Pats. If they can stop the run…28-27.”

LHP Kevin Chapman: Patriots 24, Seahawks 16. “Gisele, Tom and Bill.”

OF Jake Marisnick: “I’m going with the Pats, 27-17. Brady and Gronk can’t be stopped! Patriots are going to get up early and it’s all over.”

OF Alex Presley: Patriots 24, Seahawks 21. “I think both defenses will play well but Brady will be the difference in the end.”

RHP Mark Appel: Seahawks 31, Patriots 24.

Radio announcer Robert Ford: Seahawks 35, Patriots 31. “I think Seattle is the better team, and they’re coming together at the right time.”

Radio announcer Steve Sparks: Patriots 11, Seahawks 4. “I predict four safeties in this game. And the score is low because of deflation.”

TV announcer Geoff Blum: “20-17, Sea Chickens win! Beast mode runs 140 & 1 TD, wins MVP & blows off post presser for a Skittles shower.”

Sideline reporter Julia Morales: Seahawks 31, Patriots 21. “Seattle’s defense wasn’t rattled by Manning last year, same story, different QB today.”’s Brian McTaggart: Patriots 31, Seahawks 27. “Brady and bunch won’t be denied fourth Super Bowl win.”

A look at Astros 2015 payroll

As promised, the Astros opened up their wallet this offseason by spending (so far) $27.5 million in free agency for 2015 with the additions to Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek. They shed Dexter Fowler’s contract, but picked the up contracts of Luis Valbuena ($4.2 million), Evan Gattis, Hank Conger and Dan Straily in trades.

With the newcomers and the raises several players received in arbitration, the Astros’ 2015 payroll should come in around $70 million on Opening Day.

“Those are some pretty significant investments we made we are expecting to pay off in 2015,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “I do think it’s been a nice position to be in, and the fact we have a TV deal in place, our fans are starting to get excited and want to come check out what we’ve done. It all should build what I call a cycle where we increase our revenues and are able to increase our payroll next year and beyond that as this team continues to progress and become a playoff team as soon as possible.”

Here’s a look at the team’s 2015 salaries:

Scott Feldman                   $10,000,000

Colby Rasmus                    $8,000,000

Jed Lowrie                          $8,000,000

Luke Gregerson                   $6,000,000

Pat Neshek                         $5,500,000

Luis Valbuena                    $4,200,000

Chris Carter                        $4,175,000

Jason Castro                       $4,000,000

Chad Qualls                        $3,000,000

Jose Altuve                         $2,687,500

Tony Sipp                            $2,400,000

Jon Singleton                     $2,000,000

Hank Conger                      $1,075,000

Marwin Gonzalez              $1,062,500

Alex Presley                       $1,000,000

TOTAL                                $63,100,00

If the final 10 players on the 25-man roster, all of which will be players with 0-3 years of service time and not yet eligible for arbitration (assuming they don’t sign another player), make an average of $550,000, that’s roughly another $5.5 million in salary on the books.

Thus, the total is roughly $68,600,000.


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