Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Braves claim Schafer from Astros

In Jordan Schafer, the Astros got a player with plenty of athleticism, but who could never seem to put it all together or stay on the field because of health reasons.

Schafer was claimed off waivers Thursday by the Braves, the team that traded him to Houston in the middle of the 2011 season as part of the Michael Bourn deal.

Schafer began last season as the Astros’ starting center fielder, but numerous injuries and a drop in production, as well as some concerns about his attitude, caused him to fall out of favor. He hit .211 with four homers, 27 stolen bases and 106 strikeouts in 313 at-bats with the Astros, but a shoulder injury limited him to 21 at-bats in the final two months.

The Astros have options in center field with Justin Maxwell, who can play all over the outfield, and rookie Brandon Barnes, who made his debut last year and made a handful of highlight reel catches in center. Waiver claim Che-Hsuan Lin can also play center field.

The subtractions of Schafer and infielder Matt Downs, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, and catcher Chris Snyder, whose option wasn’t picked up, and the addition of Lin put the 40-man roster at 37. That doesn’t include pitchers Kyle Weiland and Sergio Escalona, both of whom are on the 60-man disabled list.

Schafer was one of the top prospects for the Braves, who drafted him, four years ago before they sent him to Houston on July 31, 2011. In the deal, the Astros also received pitchers Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens, both of whom reached Triple-A last year, and reliever Juan Abreu, who’s no longer in the organization.

Schafer was pulled from a game in July for what then manager Brad Mills described as “behavioral reasons” and was out of the lineup the following day. He was arrested last year and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia during a traffic stop. He entered a drug pre-trial interview program.

Considered a solid defensive player who can run, Schafer will have a chance to begin the 2013 season as one of Atlanta’s backup outfielders. His acquisition likely lessens the odds of Jose Constanza beginning next season with the Braves.

Schafer hit .228 with four home runs and a .616 OPS in the 132 games he combined to play for the Braves during the 2009 and ’11 seasons. He homered in the first at-bat of his career and tallied two home runs in his first three games. But Schafer was never the same after suffering a left wrist injury during the fourth game of his career.

Lineups for Astros-Braves

Here are the lineups for Wednesday’s series finale between the Astros and Braves:

ASTROS

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

RF Travis Buck

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

SS Marwin Gonzalez

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

BRAVES

CF Michael Bourn

LF Martin Prado

1B Freddie Freeman

3B Chipper Jones

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

C David Ross

SS Jack Wilson

RHP Randall Delgado

Astros, Happ battle Braves

The Astros try to keep their momentum going Monday at Minute Maid Park when they face the Braves, marking the return of former Astros All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Michael Bourn. The Astros are 2-1 and will give the ball to J.A. Happ, who’s making his first start of the season. Right-hander Brandon Beachy will start for the Braves.

Happ is 2-0 in six career starts against Atlanta. His 1.72 ERA in these appearances is one of the lowest by a starting pitcher versus the Braves in the last 60-plus years. Only Greg Mathews (1.21) and Paul Maholm (1.58) have lower ERA as starters against the Braves since 1950 (minimum six starts).

Before we get to the lineups, here are some pregame tidbits:

  • The Astros and Braves are two of the youngest teams in the Majors. The Astros are 27 years, 334 days old, and the Braves are 28 years, 103 days old. The only team younger than the Astros is the Royals, who are 27 years, 159 days old.
  • Carlos Lee is a career .363 hitter when he puts the first pitch of an at-bat into play, and only a handful of active players have had more first-pitch hits than Lee since his debut season of 1999: Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Todd Helton,  Lance Berkman.
  • The Braves have gone 10-2 (.883) against the Astros in the last two seasons. That’s the best winning percentage by any team against the Astros in that span (minimum four games).
  • Atlanta pitchers have posted a 2.70 ERA against Houston since the start of the 2010 season.
  • Astros starting pitchers have a 0.89 ERA through three games with three quality starts. Last year, Astros starters posted a 7.80 ERA through the team’s first three games with one quality start.
  • Brandon Beachy, who starts Monday for the Braves, held opponents to a .220 batting average on the road last season. That was the fourth-best road average against in the NL last year.

Here are Monday’s lineups:

ASTROS

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Jose Altuve

LF Travis Buck

1B Carlos Lee

RF Brian Bogusevic

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

SS Marwin Gonzalez

LHP J.A. Happ

BRAVES

CF Michael Bourn

LF Martin Prado

C Brian McCann

2B Dan Uggla

1B Freddie Freeman

RF Matt Diaz

3B Juan Francisco

SS Tyler Pastornicky

RHP Brandon Beachy

Game 3: Rough day for Astros pitchers

The Astros suffered their first Spring Training loss of the season when the Braves came to Kissimmee and beat them, 10-5, on Monday afternoon. And here I thought they were going to go undefeated. Here’s the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, make sure you read the story of how Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson are pushing each other while they battle for the same spots on the field.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The only Astros pitcher who took the mound and didn’t allow a run was Henry Villar, who gave up one hit in his scoreless innings. Starter Jordan Lyles had a crisp second inning after a tough first inning, and Zach Duke stretched out to three innings and pitched out of trouble a few times.

Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno struck out three batters in one inning of work around giving up a home run to Dan Uggla.

J.B. Shuck (2-for-2), Jed Lowrie (2-for-2) and Matt Downs (2-for-3), who got a start at third base, led the Astros’ 11-hit attack, which was their most in three spring games. Jordan Schaefer, Jason Bourgeois, J.D. Martinez, Chris Snyder and Joe Thurston also had hits. Jonathan Villar walked twice.

Bogusevic stole two bases. The Astros also turned three double plays. Also, the Astros didn’t strike out in 34 at-bats.

There certainly were plenty of teachable moments for Astros manager Brad Mills, who watched his pitchers allow 13 hits and six walks. The Braves had runners on base in all nine innings, allowing his pitching staff and his defense to see plenty of different situations.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Astros pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone, walking six batters. Lyles endured a 27-pitch first inning and wound up only going two innings, allowing four hits, two runs and one walk. Duke gave up three hits, two walks and one run in three innings.

Rhiner Cruz, the Astros’ Rule 5 pick, made his first appearance and didn’t retire any of the five batters he faced, giving up two hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks. Juan Abreu and Enerio Del Rosario each gave up one hit and one run in one inning of work.

Jack Cust went 0-for-3 and Fernando Martinez went 0-for-2, a day after hitting a three-run home run

WHAT THEY SAID: “There was a lot of defensive things we can take from this game because there were guys on and offensively there are some things we can take from the game. Again, I thought we ran the bases pretty good and were aggressive. Getting to the latter innings, the all-important strike kind of eluded us a little bit.” – Astros manager Brad Mills.

WHAT’S NEXT: First baseman Carlos Lee, who sat out the first three games of the spring season to rest his strained right hamstring, will make his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros against the Mets at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday in Kissimmee. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring for the Astros and is scheduled to pitch three innings.

INJURY UPDATE: Catcher Humberto Quintero (back/hip) is still a few days from getting in the lineup. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) continue to progress and are taking batting practice.

Here is the day in photos:

Carlos Lee scoops up a ball at first.

Matt Downs fields a ball at third base.

Livan Hernandez works in the bullpen.

Former Astros CF Michael Bourn walks to the batting cage with Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace.

Carlos Lee jokes around at the cage.

J.D. Martinez awaits batting practice.

Michael Bourn catches up with third base coach Dave Clark.

Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee get reacquainted.

Jack Cust stretches before BP.

Bourn prefers Houston

For the second day in a row, the Astros clubhouse was filled with anxiety as everyone wondered if more players were on their way out the door. The Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies on Friday, and were reportedly in talks with the Braves for a possible deal for Michael Bourn.

The Astros’ efforts to trade outfielder Bourn were picking up steam on Friday evening, according to multiple reports. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Saturday it’s growing more likely Bourn will be dealt before Sunday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Bourn said Saturday he’d prefer to stay in Houston, his hometown.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I don’t control that. There’s nothing I can do about that. There’s nothing I can say because everybody knew [Hunter] wanted to stay here and he had no control. Sometimes the business side takes over the love side. You’ve got to understand that.”

Bourn was trying to stay focused as much as possible.

“I know it was a little tough for Hunter,” Bourn said. “It’s a tough thing to deal with all the time. If one of your big pieces leave, then they’re trying to start the whole thing over. That happens from time to time and you have to deal with that. Whatever they decide to do, I’ll have to be prepared every day.”

Bourn, 28, is having his best season, entering Saturday hitting .304 with a Major League-leading 39 stolen bases. Since June 1, he’s tied for first in the National League in hits and ranks fourth in batting average (.338).

Astros’ lineup for Monday

The Astros welcome Wandy Rodriguez back from the disabled list tonight to try to snap a four-game losing streak tonight at Minute Maid Park and avoid getting swept in four games by the Atlanta Braves.

Here is the Astros’ lineup:

CF Michael Bourn

SS Clint Barmes

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

2B Jeff Keppinger

1B Brett Wallace

3B Chris Johnson

C J.R. Towles

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

Pence’s back keeps him out of lineup

Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who’s riding a 22-game hitting streak, was out of the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Braves and wasn’t expected to play. Pence has been dealing with lower back spasms.

Jason Bourgeois was originally going to get the start in right field, but he was scratched about an hour before the game with an ankle sprain. Jason Michaels started in his place.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Pence and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero came into his office following Saturday’s game and expressed concern over Pence’s back condition.

“Hunter doesn’t want to ask for a day off,” Mills said. “God bless him. That’s the way you want everybody to be. But throughout the conversation, he said it hurt him when he ran and felt like it was going to lock up on him.

“If it locks up on him when he tries to do something, it could really hurt something. With a day game following a night game, the chances of that happening go up. At the end of everything, we felt today would be a good day to take off.”

The Astros are in a stretch of 16 consecutive games without a day off, and Pence has started every game in right field.

“It only makes sense for him to take today off,” Mills said.

Pence, who’s hitting .391 during the streak, told reporters Sunday morning his back feels fine.

“They told me last night they wanted, with a day game after a night game, they wanted to give me a day rest and come back ready to go,” he said. “I felt good after the game, and that’s that.”

Mills said his goal is to try to not use Pence as a pinch-hitter, and not just because he has a 22-game hitting streak on the line.

“He needs today off,” Mills said. “If some unforeseen thing happens with someone getting hurt and he has to play and we got 15 innings and we have no one else, that’s something we have to weigh at that time.”

Astros-Braves lineups for Friday

Here are the lineups for tonight’s Astros-Braves game:

ASTROS

CF Michael Bourn

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

2B Jeff Keppinger

1B Brett Wallace

3B Chris Johnson

C J.R. Towles

RHP Aneury Rodriguez

BRAVES

CF Jordan Schafer

2B Dan Uggla

3B Chipper Jones

1B Freddie Freeman

SS Alex Gonzalez

LF Eric Hinske

C David Ross

RF Matt Young

P Tim Hudson

Game 2: Arms shine for the Astros

The Astros (0-2) lost to the Braves in Grapefruit League action for the second time in as many days, dropping a 3-0 decision in their home opener at Osceola County Stadium.

Before I get into the breakdown of the day’s events, do yourself a favor and read this feature on Astros Minor League outfielders T.J. Steele, Jon Gaston and J.B. Shuck. They are the future, and they have a cool story to tell.

What went right: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. After giving up 15 hits and eight walks in eight innings Monday, eight Astros pitchers scattered eight hits, allowed one walk and gave up three earned runs. Starting pitcher Brett Myers threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one batter.

“My arsenal is not as full as hopefully it would be at the end of the spring, but I was going out there and working a couple of pitches and just tried to locate my fastball more than anything and throw some changeups,” Myers said. “Hopefully, I’ll get some swings and misses and get some quick outs.”

Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mark Melancon, Jeff Fulchino and Gustavo Chacin each enjoyed 1-2-3 innings. Wesley Wright also threw a scoreless inning, allowing one hit.

“I was just trying to work down in the zone,” Rowland-Smith said. “A couple of pitches I was down and a couple of pitches I was up, and I wasn’t too happy about it. You know, as long as I’m throwing strikes and pounding the zone, the more I do that the quicker I get a feel out there for what I’m doing and get ready to go.”

What went wrong: The Astros were held to just three hits, including two singles, by the Braves. The only extra-base hit came on a triple by Hunter Pence in his first at-bat of the spring. Jason Bourgeois and Clint Barmes went 0-for-3 at the top two spots in the order.

“I felt like I saw the ball really well the first day,” Barmes said. “I just missed some balls. My timing was a little off, but for the most part I was happy with the way I saw the ball. I barreled a foul ball, but trying to break it in against three different pitchers, I was pretty happy with the way I felt today. I didn’t get the results I wanted, but I’m not necessarily worried about that right now. It’s still early. All in all, I felt like today was a good day.”

The Braves scored on a bloop hit in the third against Brandon Lyon, and Patrick Urckfitz gave up two runs and three hits in one inning.

What they said: “It’s always good to get back out on the field and see where you’re at with your swing and definitely get back into game action. I’m not looking for too much results on the first day. If you’re expecting a lot of your first day, you’re going to be in trouble. I was looking for something and I feel I got that in the latter part of my at-bats and I feel good going forward.” – Astros second baseman Bill Hall, who was 0-for-2 in his spring debut.

What’s next: The Astros will play their first of six split-squad games Wednesday with games in Lakeland, Fla., against the Tigers and Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees, both at 12:05 p.m. CT. Left-hander J.A. Happ (Detroit) and right-hander Bud Norris (Yankees) will make their first springs starts for the Astros.

Injury update: Astros left-hander Fernando Abad, who’s competing for a spot in the bullpen, was sent home from the team’s Spring Training complex Tuesday morning after showing up with a body temperature of 101 degrees. Infielder Anderson Hernandez (back) and outfielder T.J. Steele (elbow) were cleared to play Tuesday, though neither did. The Astros are holding back outfielder J.D. Martinez (quadriceps strain) until they can reevaluate him Thursday.

Sorry, no pictures today. Rain kept the Astros from working out in the morning and kept me inside. But my trusty camera will be in Lakeland, Fla., tomorrow for the game against the Detroit Tigers.

Tuesday morning tidbits

The great, albeit hot, weather we’ve experienced entire spring gave way this morning to the first rain of camp. That put a damper on the Astros’ early-morning workouts, but the skies should clear in time for today’s 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Braves.

Spring.jpg

Here is the lineups:

ASTROS

CF Jason Bourgeois

SS Clint Barmes

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

2B Bill Hall

DH Brian Bogusevic

1B Koby Clemens

C Humberto Quintero

3B Tommy Manzella

RHP Brett Myers

BRAVES

LF Jordan Schafer

CF Nate McLouth

DH Chipper Jones

2B Dan Uggla

RF Jason Heyward

3B Joe Mather

1B Freddie Freeman

C J.C. Boscan

SS Diory Hernandez

RHP Tommy Hanson

Also scheduled to pitch: Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Wesley Wright, Mark Melancon, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Gustavo Chacin, Patrick Urckfitz. 

  • Left-hander Fernando Abad, who was scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, was sent home ill and will likely throw tomorrow.
  • Manager Brad Mills said he might try some other guys at the No. 2 hole, though Clint Barmes might have the tools to be there on Opening Day. One name he mentioned was Brett Wallace, who had three hits on Monday.
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