Results tagged ‘ Brett Myers ’

Day 17: Astros play best game of spring to beat Mets

The Astros played their most complete game of the spring Tuesday in beating the New York Mets 8-4 in Port St. Lucie. They had 13 hits, didn’t commit an error, turned three double plays and stole three bases. And they did it without Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence, who didn’t make the trip to Kissimmee.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Where to begin? Let’s start with the defense, which was superb. The Astros turned three double plays, including a nice 1-6-3 double play started by pitcher Brett Myers in the third. Pedro Feliz made a sparkling diving stop and threw out Jeff Francouer in the second, and Jason Michaels made a pair of terrific catches in left field in the fifth.

On the first catch, he made a run to his right and tumbled after caching Francouer’s fly ball. Two batters later, he made a long run into the Mets bullpen and made a sliding catch at the wall, all the while avoiding the extra pitchers and while garden chairs that were in his way.

“I’m going over there and out of the corner of my eye see these guys moving these chairs and I say, ‘This ought to be good.’ So I said ‘Let me just slide here,'” Michaels said. “I’m not going to go into the wall, but I slid and ended up surprisingly catching it.”

The Astros scored three in the first off Johan Santana, including a solo homer by Kaz Matsui, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks. First baseman Geoff Blum was 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Feliz was 2-for-3. Catcher Jason Castro came off the bench and was 2-for-2 with a well-struck double over the head of the center fielder.

Myers, making his second start in Grapefruit League play, gave up two runs and four hits in three innings, and reliever Matt Lindstrom breezed through two innings and struck out one batter. Shane Loux and Sammy Gervacio also had scoreless innings.

Myers gave up a two-run homer to David Wright in the first, but he was happy with the way he was able to keep the ball down. He gave up singles in the second and third but got inning-ending double plays both times.

“The first inning I struggled a little bit making an adjustment to the mound and things me and Arnie worked on in the bullpen,” Myers said. “You go from different mound to different mound, and it just took me a little bit longer to make an adjustment. I was able to make the adjustment and it was great. I made some good pitches. The one David Wright hit was down and he put a good swing on it.”

Michael Bourn stole second and third in the second, and Chris Shelton stole second in the third.

The bad: Not much really on the field, but there is a new injury concern. Reliever Alberto Arias was pulled after facing two batters and giving up a homer and a walk. Arias was diagnosed with a mild strain of his upper back and will be examined perhaps as early as Wednesday.

“It felt it before today, but I felt it more on my first pitch of the game,” Arias said.

Mills didn’t want to take any chances.

“He’s had it kind of bothering him,” he said. “They said it was feeling pretty well. He said he could have pitched out there, but what was coming out we didn’t think it would be safe. The doctor’s going to take a look at him and we’ll go from there.”

What they said: “It was a very well-played game. We made some pitches when we had to and the guys swing the bats, we ran the bases and we made some big plays on the double plays. It’s fun to see a game played like that and the guys are rewarded for their efforts. The hitting is going to come. We can look at that as we’ve got a good ballclub and these guys can swing the bat, but it was things like the base running that was good today, the defensive plays were outstanding, the extra effort. They did a super job.” - manager Brad Mills.

What’s next: The Astros return to Kissimmee, Fla., to face the Florida Marlins on Wednesday at 12:05 p.m. Central. Wandy Rodriguez will make his second start of the spring, and will be followed by Felipe Paulino. Both are expected to pitch three innings. Henry Villar, Fernando Abad, Roy Corcoran, Gary Majewski and Casey Daigle are also scheduled to pitch.

Astro-notes: General manager Ed Wade said right-hander Brandon Lyon, who hasn’t faced a hitter this spring after getting a cyst on his shoulder drained, will throw his third bullpen session in five days on Wednesday. If all goes well, he could pitch live batting practice on Friday. … Polin Trinidad, Evan Englebrook and Jose Valdez each threw a scoreless inning in a Minor League mini camp game on Tuesday against Detroit in Kissimmee. … Minor League first baseman Koby Clemens made the trip to Port St. Lucie with the Major League club to Spring Training and went 0-for-1 as a late-inning replacement. His father, Roger Clemens, was spotted in the stands along the right-field line.

Mills sets rotation for first 3 Spring games

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.

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.”

Which players are you most excited about seeing this spring?

I’m back in town, but still on vacation technically until Thursday. In the meantime, Spring Training is casting a rather large shadow over me and everyone else who’s going to be in Florida in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to look ahead. No more mention of Miguel Tejada or Jose Valverde.

The Astros figure to have several intriguing storylines this spring, from a new manager in Brad Mills and several new members of the coaching staff, to key new faces in Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz. Then there’s younger players that are expected to make an impact, including a pair of rookies who could start: shortstop Tommy Manzella and catcher Jason Castro.

There are other interesting players who aren’t going to make headlines at camp: Chia-Jen Lo, Fernando Abad, Gary Majewski, Cory Sullivan, Jason Bourgeois, etc. I am going to be tracking the progress of all, but I am most intrigued by Manzella and Castro, and that’s simply because they could play huge roles. In fact, the club is banking on Manzella to do just that in April and Castro at some point this year to be a factor.

Which players are you, the fans, most excited about seeing?

How the rotation shapes up with Myers

The Astros squeezed a few more bucks together and have reached an agreement wiht free-agent pitcher Brett Myers, pending a physical. That’s key, considering he missed most of last season after undergoing surgery on his hip.

If Myers is healthy for the entire season, this could be a key signing for the Astros. Myers will likely slide into the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, leaving Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino and Brian Moehler battling for two spots. I have to think Norris’ performance, youth and high ceiling give him a spot, and Moehler’s veteran presence and experience puts him ahead of Paulino.

Paulino has the stuff to succeed and could very well pitch his way into the rotation in the spring, forcing the Astros to slot him somewhere. That is a problem general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills would love to have.

So as it stands, here is what the Astros’ rotation could look like once they get Myers in the fold.

Roy Oswalt, RHP, 32 years old (8-6, 4.12 ERA in 30 starts last year) — Oswalt, who needs only seven wins to tie the club career record, has been slowed by back problems the past three seasons, forcing the Astros to shut him down last year in mid-September. He still has the ability to be one of the best in the game if he remains healthy.

Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, 31 years old (14-12, 3.02 ERA in 33 starts) — The Astros can only hope Rodriguez’s coming-out party wasn’t a one-year show. He led the team in wins, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts and quality starts (23). He pitched like an ace for most of the season.

Brett Myers, RHP, 29 years old (4-3, 4.84 ERA in 18 games, including 10 starts) — He missed most of the season because of hip surgery, but he’s a hoss when healthy. He started at least 30 games in each season from 2003-2008, with the exception of 2007 when he was moved to closer and saved 21 games. He’s a significant upgrade to the rotation.

Bud Norris, RHP, 24 years old (6-3, 3.53 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts) — Coming off an impressive rookie season in which he won his first three and final three starts, Norris could be poised for a breakthrough season.

Brian Moehler, RHP, 38 years old (8-12, 5.47 ERA in 29 starts) — The Astros picked up his $3 million option for 2010. He has the occasional rough outing, but he takes the ball every fifth day and is a workhorse. Excluding his first two and his last two starts, he was 8-8 wiht a 4.25 ERA in his other 25 starts.

Other candidates — RHP Felipe Paulino (3-11, 6.27 ERA), RHP Yorman Bazardo (1-3, 7.88 ERA), LHP Wesley Wright (3-4, 5.44 ERA as a reliever), RHP Wilton Lopez (0-2, 8.38 ERA).

 

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