Results tagged ‘ Brad Arnsberg ’

Arnsberg not surprised by decision

Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has been relieved of his duties, general manager Ed Wade announced Monday. He will be replaced on an interim basis by former Astros pitcher Doug Brocail.

The decision to let Arnsberg go was made as a result of philosophical differences, according to a release by the club.

When reached by MLB.com on Tuesday, Arnsberg echoed those sentiments.

“It was philosophical differences between a manager and a general manager and a pitching coach,” Arnsberg told MLB.com via phone. “I don’t want to get into the details. It’s just been kind of rearing its ugly head the last 2-3 weeks, and I guess they felt like they had to make a move for the betterment of the club and the staff. I take it like a man.”

Arnsberg said he wasn’t surprised.

“The last couple of weeks have really been a bear for me going to the ballpark,” he said. “I’m always a fun-loving, free-spirited guy and get along with pretty much everybody, and it just hasn’t been a whole lot of fun over the last two, three or four weeks. That’s not why I intended on staying in this game, and so as far as it being a surprise? I’d have to weigh on the side of no, not really.”

Arnsberg said he plans to return to his home in Arlington, Texas, within the 24 hours and looks forward to spending more time with his family. His oldest son, Kyle, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals last week, and his youngest son, Kaden, is on a summer baseball team.

“I know what I’m going to do when I get home, and that’s become a full-time husband again, which I’m really excited about,” Arnsberg said. “I’m going to be a full-time daddy to a  17-year-old son and get to watch him play a lot of summer league baseball. I’ll just go enjoy my family and become a dad and a husband.”

Arnsberg said he has had an outpouring of support from his players. He talked with Brett Myers on the phone for 15 minutes Tuesday and asked him to talk to some of the players he never got a chance to talk to personally. He said he got a nice text from reliever Brandon Lyon.

“I leave with my head held very, very high,” he said. “I know there’s a majority of the players, and I would say 100 percent of the pitchers, hopefully, that have had a good experience with me as I did them, and I would think they would always have my back no matter what the sitaution.

“The only thing I take credit for is trying to build a family. I know the guys on the pitching staff will have each other’s back.”

Arnsberg had served as the Astros pitching coach since being hired on Oct. 30, 2009 and has been lauded for his work with the pitchers and in the video room. The Astros are second-to-last in the in the NL with a 4.69 ERA.

Brocail, 44, pitched for 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, including four with the Astros. Since retiring after the 2009 season, Brocail has assisted with the evaluation of Major League and Minor League players in the Astros system and has handled some Major League scouting assignments.

Astros got it right with this coaching staff

It’s rather unusual to see a Major League coaching staff get multi-year deals, but the Astros felt so good about what they had in manager Brad Mills’ staff that they announced Saturday they had extended the contracts of the field staff by two years, though 2012.

The Astros will have to wait a couple of more weeks before hitting coach Jeff Bagwell tells them whether he wants to return, but Mills and general manager Ed Wade have put together a terrific coaching staff in Brad Arnsberg (pitching coach), Dave Clark (third-base coach), Bobby Meacham (first-base coach), Al Pedrique (bench coach) and Jamie Quirk (bullpen coach).

Not only do they have the respect of the players, but the group puts in long hours poring over advance scouting reports and in the video room before the players even arrive at the ballpark.

“I knew from basically July on we wanted to keep this group together,” Wade said. “I talked to [owner] Drayton [McLane] and [president of baseball operation] Tal [Smith about doing two-years and they see the same things I’ve seen and they’re very supportive of extending beyond this organization’s norm.

“If you look at coaches’ contracts, there’s not a lot of multi-year deals out there. There are some, but not the vast majority. To be able to do that with the entire unit sends a message to them that we appreciate the kind of work they’ve done and a message to the players, too, that there’s continuity and stability. With a younger group, that’s an important message to try to deliver.”

Don’t be surprised to see the Astros pick up Mills’ option for 2012. He’s under contract next year, but with his staff getting contracts through 2012, it only makes sense the manager gets the same deal.

 

Day 6: Arnsberg stressing keeping the ball down

New Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has been vocal in stressing to his pitchers to pound the lower half of the strike zone. He wants the pitchers to begin down and work their way up the zone.

“When you’re up and trying to get the ball down, it can lead to real long days,” he said. “It’s a little bit further from the eyesight of a hitter and they get the top half of the ball and it’s a little bit tougher to get to the middle half of the ball.

“It’s easier to get over the top of the bat where they’re getting the bottom half of the ball, so pop-ups and grounds are the key to winning. Just because you’re not a ground ball pitcher doesn’t mean you can’t make a living in the big leagues as long as you stay in those low-thigh to beltline areas.”

Arnsberg’s philosophy is to make hitters swing. He says they’re coming to the plate wanting to put the bat on the ball, and if a pitcher can make them chase a ball down in the zone early in the count, he’s going to have the advantage.

“We want to continue to be aggressive,” he said.

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Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella became the latest player to have his contract renewed, agreeing to the minimum of $400,000. The club still has to set salary figures for Bud Norris, Edwin Maysonet and Wesley Wright.

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Astros manager Brad Mills revealed the first three starting pitchers for the Grapefruit League season, which begins Thursday against Washington in Kissimmee, Fla.

Right-hander Brett Myers will start the opener Thursday, followed by left-hander Wandy Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., and Roy Oswalt on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves in Kissimmee. Houston will use six starters this spring, with Bud Norris, Brian Moehler and Felipe Paulino getting the other starts.

“We’re going to have some guys piggyback and switch back and forth as we go along,” Mills said. “That’s where we are right now the first three days.”

The Astros will play an intrasquad game Wednesday and will use 14 pitchers – seven pitchers on each team throwing one inning. Third base-coach Dave Clark will manage one side against first-base coach Bobby Meacham.

Mills said he will be able to get other pitchers – Wesley Wright, Yorman Bazardo, for example — some starts because of the three split-squad games the club has and a “B” squad game on Thursday. Paulino will throw in a “B” game Friday in Lakeland.

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The Astros welcomed 37 players Friday to a weeklong Minor League mini camp that will include some of the bigger prospects in the system, including pitchers Ross Seaton, Jordan Lyles, Jay Austin, Jon Gaston, Collin Delome Jiovanni Mier and Brad Dydalewicz.

LHPs (6) – Douglas Arguello, Brad Dydalewicz, Dallas Keuchel, Ross Seaton, Jon Switzer, Patrick Urckfitz.

RHPs (10) – Tanner Bushue, Matt Ginter, Kyle Godfrey, Kyle Greenwalt, Chris Hicks, Jordan Lyles, Dan Meszaros, Juan Minaya, Sergio Perez, Brandt Walker.

Catchers (4) – Luis Alvarez, Rene Garcia, Frederico Hernandez, David Williams.

IFs (8) – Jose Altuve, Erik Castro, Koby Clemens, Phil Disher, Enrique Hernandez, Jonathan Meyer, Jiovanni Mier, Brandon Wikoff.

OFs (9) – Jay Austin, David Cook, Collin Delome, Jonathan Gaston, Andrew Locke, J.D. Martinez, Telvin Nash, J.B. Shuck, T.J. Steele.

Day 2: Arnsberg winning over pitchers early

Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who joined the staff after serving the same position in Toronto the previous five years, could probably convince his pitchers to throw under-handed by the time this camp is over. He’s energetic and passionate about his job. And Arnsberg has lots of work to do to retool a pitching staff that boasted some of the worst numbers in the Majors last year.

Arnsberg met at length Sunday morning with starters Roy Oswalt and Brett Myers. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes, and Arnsberg said he covered a variety of topics.

“It was Baseball 101,” Arnsberg said. “It was an old-school talk about some of the things they like to do. I was talking to them a little bit about what I have in store for them as far as a pitching plan and kind of what their next week entails, how I’m going to try to back both of them down as we get close to their starts and put them into that five-day rotation. It’s what I’ve done in years past with other Major League teams I’ve been with.”

Oswalt, who didn’t always see eye-to-eye with former pitching coach Dewey Robinson, has already developed a good relationship with Arnsberg.

“He got to coach one of the premier pitcher sin the league in [Roy] Halladay,” Oswalt said. “You learn some things from him because he’s been around and seen a lot of pitching. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, you always learn something.”

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Two days of camp are done the Astros remain relatively healthy. Right-hander Jeff Fulchino still has a sore ankle, but it doesn’t appear to be slowing him down. Right-hander Brandon Lyon is working his arm back in shape after having a cyst drained in his shoulder.

On Sunday, right-hander Casey Daigle was pulled out of last drill because of a slightly sprained right ankle.

“It’s nothing of any significance,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “As a matter of fact, they said it’s better today than it was yesterday. Doing different things on different days they might aggravate it a little bit, but he was fine.”

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One of the most entertaining drills the Astros have done in the first two days of camps involves manager Brad Mills hit a soft-covered baseball, a.k.a. rag ball, at the pitchers while they’re on the mound. Mills talks and yells encouragement during the drill, and the pitchers barely have time to catch their breath before another ball is hit to them.

As the drill progresses, Mills hits the balls harder and eventually Mills and first-base coach Bobby Meacham are hitting balls rhythmically at the pitchers.

“It’s a high-energy drill to keep the guys going,” Mills said. “We want them to have fun with it, but at the same time we want them to pick up in their reactions to the ball and reacting to who the ball is hit. We can have fun with it, they can have fun with it and get something out of it and learn from it.”

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Among the position players to show up Sunday: Center fielder Michael Bourn, outfielder Jason Bourgeois, shortstop Tommy Manzella, third baseman Chris Johnson, outfielder Yordany Ramirez and second baseman Kaz Matsui. There are 12 positions players in camp, but they won’t work out until Wednesday.

“It’s nice to see them show up, and it’s probably nice for me because now I can spend some extra time with them,” manager Brad Mills said. “Before everybody gets here, I can spend some time and they’ll talk to me and I’ll get to know them.”

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