Results tagged ‘ Bo Porter ’

Porter calls Scioscia to apologize

Astros manager Bo Porter called Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Saturday morning and apologized for an incident that occurred in Friday’s game.

In the sixth inning of the Angels’ 4-2 win, Astros outfielder Chris Carter hit a pop up in front of the Astros dugout. Angels catcher Hank Conger was camped under the ball at the dugout railing with first baseman Mark Trumbo charging in, but no one caught the ball. Conger charged with an error that was overturned after the official scorer learned someone had yelled something to Conger from the Houston dugout.

Porter acknowledged someone yelled at Conger, but he wouldn’t say if it came from a player or a coach or what exactly was said.

“It came from our dugout,” Porter said. “I called Mike this morning and he and I had a good conversation about it. I apologized to him on behalf of our ballclub. It’s nothing I condone, but I take full responsibility and it won’t happen again. It was handled the way it should be handled.”

Said Scioscia: “It’s nothing. I appreciate the call, and it’s not an issue. We’re not holding any grudges. We’ll go out and play like we do.”

Earlier this year, Porter apologized to Scioscia for inadvertently making an illegal pitching change, a move that led to the two-game suspension and fine of crew chief Fieldin Culbreth and fines for the rest of his crew.

Porter sees Dominguez, Castro for the long haul

Astros manager Bo Porter was asked repeatedly this spring about setting his starting lineup, and he always gave the same answer: “Jose Altuve is my starting second baseman and he’s going to hit leadoff.” In other words, Porter was set on the 5-foot-6 Altuve as his starting second baseman, but every other position was up for grabs.

Though the evaluation process continues in the outfield, earlier this month Porter identified J.D. Martinez as the starting left-fielder, Robbie Grossman as the starting center-fielder and Jimmy Paredes as the starting right-fielder — for now. These names are by no means locked in as much as Altuve, an All-Star a year ago, but Porter’s declaration was more about finding out what Martinez, Grossman and Paredes can do to prove they belong.

Which brings us to Saturday night, when third baseman Matt Dominguez and catcher Jason Castro both hit two homers, becoming the first Astros teammates to do that since Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio in 2005.

Dominguez, a tremendous defender, has seven homers in his last 12 games after not hitting a homer in his first 33 games this year, and the former first-round pick Castro has homered three times in his last six games and is hitting .450 in that span. Dominguez is hitting .253 with seven homers and a team-leading 24 RBIs, and Castro is hitting .265 with six homers and 15 RBIs.

After the game, Porter was ready to say Dominguez and Castro had joined Altuve in locking up a starting spot for the long term, and considering there’s nobody in the Minor Leagues ready to push them, that’s a good thing for the Astros.

“We found ourself a third baseman and we found ourself a catcher,” Porter said. “And coming into the season we knew we had a second baseman. This is the thing: You let them play long enough, the questions you have, they’ll answer them. One way or another, they will answer the questions you need to have answered. I will not leave this season without getting every question I have in my head answered.”

As for first base and shortstop? Jonathan Singleton appears to be the first baseman of the future and will begin his Minor League season next week after missing the first 50 games because of a second failed drug test. The shortstop spot is being kept warm until 2012 No. 1 pick Carlos Correa is ready, though Jonathan Villar could be interesting to watch next year.

And don’t sleep on Chris Carter, who has enough power to entrench himself at first base or designated hitter if he can cut down on his strikeouts.

Whether any of these names are here when the Astros hope to contend in a few years remains to be seen, but there are some signs on hope in the rubble of a 14-35 season.

Porter apologizes to umps for illegal pitching change

Astros manger Bo Porter issued a public apology Friday afternoon for making an illegal pitching change in Thursday’s loss to the Angels, a move that led to the two-game suspension and fine of crew chief Fieldin Culbreth and fines for the rest of his crew.

Porter pulled pitcher Wesley Wright from the game in the seventh inning Thursday before he had a chance to face a batter, which is a misapplication official baseball rule 3.05(b). The rule states a pitcher must face at least one hitter before he can come out of the game, unless he’s injured.

The other members of Culbreth’s crew – Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson – also received fines by Major League Baseball stemming from the same sequence of events.

Porter, the first-year manager, was adamant following the game he was allowed to make a pitching change because the Angels had brought in a pinch-hitter after Wright was announced as being in the game, but he was informed later that night Wright should have faced the batter.

“I would say the first thing is me, personally, I want to apologize to their whole crew for putting them in that position,” Porter said. “And it’s unfortunate for the game of baseball, but at the same time I had a chance to speak to [Culbreth] last night after the fact and he called over and I stand corrected of my thought process and interpretation of what it is I believed the rule to be. I want to give them my apology, and I wish the whole thing never happened.”

Porter said Culbreth called over to his office after the umpire had spoken to his superiors and told him the pitching change hadn’t been handled properly. Porter said he apologized to Culbreth at that time, and then took time prior to Friday’s game to apologize again through reporters.

“When I went out there last night, my interpretation of it and my thought process of what it is I believed the rule to be was the fact that the scheduled hitter had to be faced by that pitcher,” Porter said. “After the game, I found out that was not the case and there are some repercussions. As I sit here today, it’s more that I feel sorry for the crew chief and crew for having to wear what it is that happened last night.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia had been playing the game under protest, which was dropped when his team scored three runs in the eighth and won, 6-5.

The controversy came in the seventh inning. With runners at first and third and two outs, Porter brought in Wright, a lefty, to face left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck. Porter then subbed in the right-handed Hector Ambriz before Wright threw a pitch after he saw right-hander Luis Jimenez on deck to pinch-hit.

Porter said Wright could have been pulled when a pinch-hitter entered the game had he pitched the previous inning and was beginning a fresh inning, but he reiterated it was an honest mistake.

“But a mistake we don’t want to have,” he said. “That’s why to me, I give my deepest apology to their entire crew. Mike Scioscia was right. I feel bad I put them in position where they felt that, ‘Maybe Bo is right,’ and then a decision was made that ended up not being the right decision.”

Major League Baseball reviewing improper pitching change

A Major League Baseball spokesman said Friday the controversial pitching change in the seventh inning of Thursday’s Astros-Angels game was not applied correctly and that the matter is being reviewed.

The Angels were playing the game under protest before rallying for three runs in eighth inning to win, 6-5. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued with the umpires that Astros manager Bo Porter made an illegal pitching change in the seventh inning.

With runners at first and third and two outs, Porter brought in lefty Wesley Wright to face left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck. Porter then subbed in the right-handed Ambriz before Wright threw a pitch after he saw right-hander Luis Jimenez on deck to pinch-hit.

Rule 3.05 (b) says that a pitcher must face at least one hitter before he can come out of the game, unless he’s injured. Wright wasn’t injured, and Scioscia argued at length with the umpires before notifying them he was playing the game under protest.

“My contention was that the pitcher who came in had to face one batter,” Scioscia said Thursday. “That’s why I protested it, and we’re happy we won.”

Porter said following the game he sat in a meeting last year with Nationals manager Davey Johnson that laid out the rule (Porter was Washington’s third-base coach).

“If you have to pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher,” he said. “Technically ,Wesley came in to pitch the batter that was scheduled to hit [Shuck] but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit. Which, from my understanding of the rule, you can bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.”

Porter said he stopped to talk to the umpires to make sure Jimenez was officially in the game.

“Once I made sure that he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, then I started towards the mound,” he said. “The home plate umpire [Adrian Johnson], he kind of stopped me. He said, ‘Whoa, Bo,’ and then Scioscia started yelling he has to face a hitter.

“I just calmly explained to him my interpretation of the rule is ‘Yes he has to face hitter, as long as it’s the hitter that’s scheduled to hit.’ The hitter that was scheduled to hit had now been pinch-hit for, which now gives me the right to bring a pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.”

Porter address pitching change controversy

Here’s what Astros manager Bo Porter told the media about the seventh-inning pitching change controversy in Thursday’s loss to the Angels.

With runners at first and third and two outs and the Angels trailing, 5-3, in the seventh, Porter brought in lefty Wesley Wright to face left-handed hitter J.B. Shuck. Porter then subbed right-hander Hector Ambriz before Wright threw a pitch after he saw right-hander Luis Jimenez on deck to pinch-hit.

Rule 3.05 (b) says that a pitcher must face at least one hitter before he can come out of the game, unless he’s injured. Wright didn’t appear to be injured, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued at length with the umpires before notifying them he was playing the game under protest.

Q: Can you walk us through the pitching change in the seventh inning?

A: “My understanding of the rule, and I was fortunate enough last year to sit in with [Nationals manager] Davey [Johnson] when they changed the rule of a pitcher having to face a batter. But at the same time, if you have to pinch-hit for that batter, you now have the right to bring in another pitcher. Technically, Wesley came in to pitch the batter that was scheduled to hit [Shuck] but he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit. Which, from my understanding of the rule, you can bring in another pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.”

Q:  What’s going through your mind when the umps are talking?

A: “At that point, you just let the umpires sort it out. Like I said, my understanding of the rule…I felt like if I did the best thing for my team, I was going to let the umpires sort it out. At that point, the umpires decided that we were able to let Ambriz face the pinch-hitter. I don’t think the delay or anything affected Ambriz from a standpoint of his effectiveness.”

Q: Just to be clear, before you went out to get Wesley you stopped to talk to the umpires for a while. That was…?

A: “The first thing I wanted to make sure is the pinch-hitter was in the game. That’s why I stopped before I went to the mound, to make sure he pinch-hit for the guy who was scheduled to hit.”

Q: So Jimenez was in the game?

A: “Yes. Once I made sure that he pinch-hit for the batter that was scheduled to hit, then I started towards the mound. The home plate umpire, he kind of stopped me. He said, ‘Whoa, Bo,’ and then Scioscia started yelling he has to face a hitter. I just calmly explained to him my interpretation of the rule is ‘Yes he has to face hitter ,as long as it’s the hitter that’s scheduled to hit.’ The hitter that was scheduled to hit had now been pinch-hit for, which now gives me the right to bring a pitcher to face the pinch-hitter.”

 

Keuchel, Bedard to rotation; Humber to bullpen

Astros manager Bo Porter said Wednesday left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Friday’s series opener against the Rangers, with fellow southpaw Erik Bedard moving back into the rotation to throw Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, struggling right-hander Philip Humber has been moved to the bullpen.

“We’re just trying to go with the guys that give us the best opportunity at this time,” Porter said.

Keuchel is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in six relief appearances, so Friday will mark his first start of 2013. He made 16 starts for the Astros last year and was 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA, including a complete-game win over Cleveland on June 23.

“One of the things you look at, the Rangers’ lineup it’s left-handed dominant and they have some left-handed guys in their lineup, and we felt like if we can get both of our lefties matched up against them it would put us in good position,” Porter said. “Dallas has done a tremendous job out of the bullpen and he’s given us length every time he’s come into the game, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to get into the rotation.”

Bedard made five starts before being moved to the bullpen and now finds himself back in the rotation. He’s 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA as a starter this year, but in two relief appearances has allowed three hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings.

“The competition we have for these spots is a fluid situation and it wasn’t a competition that was going to end in Spring Training,” Porter said. “I made that perfectly clear to the guys then. Obviously, moves like this kind of reiterate that to them and we’re going to try to go with the hot hand and go with the guys that give us the best opportunity to win ballgames.”

Humber got off to a nice start for Houston and had a 2.89 ERA in three starts, but he was 0-3 after the Astros didn’t score any runs in any of those starts. But he’s 0-4 with a 16.20 ERA in four starts since.

“I talked to Humber and told him the same thing we told Bedard when we sent him down there,” Porter said. “I said, ‘It’s going to be a situation  you are built up and you’ve seen the long guys go down there and have success, like Keuchel, and end up back in the rotation.’ Bedard went down to the bullpen and did a tremendous job last time out and he’s going into the rotation. It’s a fluid situation we will continue to monitor and this competition will continue to go on.”

Bedard will pitch at Pittsburgh the following weekend, Porter said.

Astros shape the look of their outfield

Outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment Monday, likely bringing an end to their tenure in Houston. The Astros also optioned infielder Brandon Laird to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe and infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes, as well was reinstating outfielder J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. </p>

Crowe, J.D. Martinez and Paredes will join the Astros before Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Ankiel has enough service time to refuse a Minor League assignment, at which point he would probably be released. The Astros have 10 days to decide what to do with Fernando Martinez, who will be released, traded or sent to the Minor Leagues if he passes through waivers.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow had high hopes for Ankiel, who he watched blossom into a potent outfielder while both were with the Cardinals. Ankiel hit just .194 in 25 games with five homers, 11 RBIs and a whopping 35 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.

“Rick Ankiel is a class guy, and I really like him both as a baseball player and as a person,” Luhnow said. “We brought him in here to help our younger kids, to mentor them and help out on the field. I really appreciate everything he did for us. The reality is the team is not where we wanted to be at this point and we feel like outfield is one of our weakest positions, and we wanted to give some guys who are having some success at Triple-A a chance to continue that up here.”

Luhnow met with manager Bo Porter on Monday at Minute Maid Park and went over the roster, and the general manager said the moves were made to fill some specific needs and not a shake-up of a club that’s lost 10 of 11 games and is 8-24.

“We sat down today and really talked about the mix of the team and what was available to us in Triple-A,” Luhnow said. “This is more of a testament about how Jimmy’s been doing in Triple-A, how Trevor’s been doing in Triple-A and wanting J.D. back. We weren’t making changes for the sake of making changes.”

Luhnow acknowledged the club also talked about the status of struggling starting pitcher Philip Humber, but Luhnow deferred to Porter.

Crowe is hitting .300 (33-for-110) in 29 games for Oklahoma City in 29 games this season, clubbing two homers and driving in 14 runs while stealing a team-high 11 bases. Crowe, a former first-round Draft pick by the Indians who’s appeared in 205 Major League games, was signed by the Astros this offseason as a Minor League free agent.

Paredes entered Monday hitting a team-high .376 (41-for-109) in 29 games for Oklahoma City, which ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League, with a 1.040 OPS. Paredes has started at third base and in right field this season for the RedHawks and remains raw on defense.

J.D. Martinez, out since April 20 with a right knee sprain, hit .300 in five games on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. He played in 14 games, including 12 starts, for the Astros before heading to the disabled list.

Fernando Martinez, who had trouble staying healthy, was hitting .182 with a homer and three RBIs in 11 games, while Laird was batting .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 11 games

Porter gives Wallace the day off

Astros manager Bo Porter gave struggling first baseman Brett Wallace the day off Wednesday after he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts during the team’s 22-hit outburst on Tuesday. Wallace is 1-for-21 this season with 17 strikeouts.

“Sometimes you need to take a step back,” Porter said. “You can be trying so hard with extra work and video and reading game reports and over-analyzing each and every at-bat to where you probably need to take a step back. We’re going to give him the day off, we have an off day on Thursday, and Friday send him back in there. I think the results are going to be in a more positive light for Brett.”

Wallace singled in his second at-bat of the season March 31 against the Rangers, but has gone 0-for-19 since with 16 strikeouts.

“I think the thing that’s kind of crazy is swing-wise, I feel pretty good and my swing feels like it’s not that far off,” he said. “It’s just timing and contact point adjustments that need to be made. I think that’s one of the things you just have to keep your head down and keep working, and the more at-bats you get, you see the ball travel and let it get a little deeper and go from there.”

Porter yanks Martinez for ‘mental mistake’

Astros manager Bo Porter pulled starting left-fielder J.D. Martinez in the middle of the fourth inning Monday night for what Martinez later admitted to be a mental mistake during his at-bat in the top of the inning, a pop out to second base.

Porter was asked following the Astros’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners if Martinez, who was hitting clean-up for the first time this year, had been injured, and he told reporters to ask Martinez what happened.

“That was a manager’s decision,” Porter said. “You go ask him why he didn’t finish the game. I’m actually interested in what he’s going to tell you.”

Martinez admitted to making a mistake during the at-bat, but wouldn’t go much beyond that. He swung at a first-pitch fastball from Joe Saunders and popped out after striking out looking in the first inning. Designated hitter Chris Carter swung at the first pitch the at-bat prior to Martinez, too.

“From a baseball standpoint, I made a mistake today,” Martinez said. “I had a mental error going up to the plate and was totally my fault. I understand everything what Bo did, taking me out and everything. I hold nothing against him in that sense because what I did was unacceptable and it was just a mental mistake that will never happen again.”

Martinez hinted went against the approach that was discussed at the hitter’s meeting prior to the game.

“It was just something going up to the plate, our plan and everything,” he said. “I got caught in the moment and really didn’t take a step back. The game was moving quick and I totally slipped, and I take full responsibility for it.”

Martinez has no problem with how Porter handled the situation.

“I completely get it,” he said. “I don’t want it to come off as me being selfish and not being about the team. That’s not what my intentions were. You just get caught up in the game sometimes and you want to go up there and you want to hit so bad and your plan sometimes just flies out the window.”

White pleased with first spring with Astros

Astros pitcher Alex White didn’t have the kind of spring that made anyone’s eyes pop out, and his results — a 6.87 ERA in 19 2/3 innings — weren’t great, but overall White is satisfied with being able to get his pitch count up and put himself in position to win a rotation spot.

He says he’s where he wants to be with all five pitches, though his change-up was a little iffy in his five-inning out Monday against Washington.

“Spring, for me, has always been tough, just trying to get ready for the season, especially this year competing for a job,” White said. “It’s been a good spring for me. I feel really good coming out of it and I’m just excited about the season.”

White threw a spring-high 84 pitches against the Nats.

“I wanted to get my pitch count up, obviously, and treat it like a real start,” White said. “I had good stuff and a real good sinker, real good split tonight. I got a lot of ground balls and gave up a few hits and a few runs.”

White will make the Astros’ Opening Day roster, but it remains to be seen whether he’s in the bullpen or the rotation. White and Brad Peacock are battling for the fourth spot in the rotation, and whoever doesn’t win it will begin the year as a long man in the bullpen.

“Me and Brad have gotten pretty close and we talk about it a lot,” White said. “We just want to help this team win and both of us will do either job pretty well, I think, and we’re comfortable in both spots and we’re excited about the opportunities.”

Peacock will get his turn on Tuesday night against the Yankees in a game that will be televised by MLB Network at 6:05 p.m. CT.

“I think we’ll sit down as a staff and talk about both guys and figure out what’s the best thing to do after Peacock starts tomorrow night,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “They’ve both have done a tremendous job and that’s why they were both informed today that they both had made the ballclub. I don’t think we can make a wrong decisions because they both have done a tremendous job.”

When asked about White’s so-so spring numbers, Porter said: “I’m extremely pleased. You look at the fact his groundball ratio is where we expected it to be, he’s pounding the strike zone, he’s getting himself built up to the point that even when he’s gotten into jams, he’s been able to make quality pitches to get out of the jams. We’re pleased with Alex and we expected him to have a big year.”

 

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