Results tagged ‘ Brett Wallace ’

Day 10: Astros have a little fun with hitting drill

In an effort to ramp up the intensity while promoting some camaraderie, Astros position players ended their workout Tuesday with a hitting competition that pitted a team picked by Jason Castro against a team picked by Brett Wallace.

The teams took turns batting against a pitching machine while trying to execute in different situations – squeeze bunts, man on third and one out, etc. – with manager Bo Porter standing  behind a net and playing umpire, determining whether the batted ball would have done the job in real life.

Each team was awarded points for proper execution, and Wallace’s team won the competition on a walk-off homer run by catcher Rene Garcia.

“I thought it was great,” Porter said. “Those guys started ragging each other a little bit. It’s always good to add a little fun to Spring Training, but at the same time you keep it intense and competitive, and I felt the guys did a great job.”

The losing team had to pick up more than 500 baseballs that were scattered around the outfield and the bullpens, while the winning team headed to the clubhouse.

“We’ve been working on a lot of those situations,” Wallace said. “It’s been a big focus for us this whole camp for everybody. Not only was it like competing against yourself, the guys in your group, but you’re putting the whole team in a real competitive situations.

“It’s the closest we’re going to get to a game right now. Any time you’re out on the field in a separate dugout competing against each other, it’s going to make it more real.

Garcia proved to be an unlikely hero.

“He called it, too,” Wallace said. “After everybody went through [and hit], you could pick who you wanted to go up. I went a couple of times and some other guys went up, and Rene was like, ‘I got it, I want to go.’ He called it and requested it and went up there and delivered. It’s pretty neat he did that.”

Check out these links:

Feature story and video: J.D. Martinez has revamped his swing from head to toe…literally.

Asher Wojciechowski not rushing back from injury.

Hitting competition light-hearted fun for Astros.

Update on Jesse Crain status.

Altuve, Izturis and Corporan give advice to Latin players.

Scouting season is heating up, says scouting director Mike Elias.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Carlos Perez

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Lucas Harrell

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Nick Tropeano

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Josh Fields

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Jerome Williams

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Cesar Izturis and Jose Altuve

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Dallas Keuchel

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Cesar Izturis

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Field filled with balls awaiting loser of hitting drill

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Jonathan Singleton

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Bo Porter and staff and players watch hitting competition

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Carlos Correa holds a young fan

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Astros mob Rene Garcia after his walk-off homer

Astros pitchers and catchers report to Kissimmee

Astros pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training on Saturday. Here are some notes, as well as some photos:

White progressing steadily

Right-hander Alex White continues to progress steadily from the Tommy John surgery he underwent nearly a year ago. White threw batting practice Friday, tossing 23 pitches, including some changeups to a few hitters.

“We’re coming along pretty good,” he said. “My off-speed stuff is really good, and I’m waiting on the fastball to come along. I think it will come. We’re really just at 10 months right now. A couple of more months we should be there.”

Off-season work beneficial to Castro

Considering he had more time to work out this off-season, All-Star catcher Jason Castro is coming to camp with his surgically repaired right knee feeling stronger than it was even a year ago.

“I put in a lot of work this off-season and I feel like I put myself in a good spot coming back, even better than I was last year,” he said.

That’s a tremendous sign for Castro, who a year ago at this time said his knee was feeling 100 percent.

“I was able to work out for a longer period this off-season than I ever had,” said Castro, who earned a degree from Stanford in the off-season. “I was back in school pretty much right after the season ended, and I was recovering and doing some rehab stuff. I started my off-season.”

Appel recovering from appendectomy

Astros pitcher Mark Appel is still a little sore, but otherwise on the road to recovery after having to undergo an appendectomy Jan. 30 in Houston.

Appel, who lived with his parents in Houston in the off-season, woke up in the middle of the night and thought he had indigestion. The pain lingered, and he soon rustled his father in his sleep to tell him to take him to the hospital.

“Usually if I have food poisoning, I’ll just grab some Tums or something like that,” he said. “I did that after the first time I threw up, and I woke up again maybe an hour later and the same thing and the pain’s worse. I knew something was up, and I just said, ‘Hey dad, I think we need to go to the emergency room to be sure.’ Sure enough, I had appendicitis. It was pretty crazy.”

Wallace focusing on making roster

The fact that Brett Wallace is in camp this year as a non-roster invitee after being designed for assignment last week doesn’t change his mindset: he’s coming to camp to try to win the starting job at first base.

“It’s something I’ve never been through,” he said. “I had some friends and people you play with go through it. It’s definitely a new process but something that, honestly, I can’t control. In the same aspect, I’m coming in camp to win a job. I’m going to keep my head down and keep working and then whatever is happening with all that, I just try to put it to the side and keep preparing.”

Here are some photos:

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Jeff Luhnow, Jesse Crain, Peter Moylan

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Doug Brocail, Peter Moylan

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Josh Zeid throws to C.J. Lo

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Astros have names on the backs of spring jerseys this year

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George Springer tries on his new helmet

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Jason Castro hugs Matt Dominguez as Brett Wallace stands near

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Jason Castro talks to reporters

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Jason Castro finding new storage space

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Jerome Williams does jumping jacks

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Paul Clemens throws to Nick Tropeano

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Jonathan Villar

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Matt Albers and Nick Tropeano

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Jarred Cosart tries on new hat with help from Steve Perry

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.”

Game 4: Wallace, Castro stay hot in win over Tigers

What happened:  The split-squad Astros got a two-run homer from Jason Castro — his second in as many games — and a solo shot from Brett Wallace to pull away from the Tigers for a 9-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at rainy Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

For the game story and boxcore on the Astros’ 7-2 split-squad loss to the Rays in Port Charlotte, click here.

What we learned: C Jason Castro feels as good at the plate as he has in a long time, going 2-for-2. He homered to left-center field in his first at-bat and later singled, also to the opposite field. He has two homers in two games this spring. He’s made a minor adjustment to allow him to stay on the ball a little bit more and drive it the other way.

“I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well and been getting some good pitches, trying to be aggressive,” he said. “I know it’s early in spring and guys throw a lot of fastballs right now. I’m trying to take advantage of that and it’s been good so far. The swing feels really good and I think I’m seeing the ball well. So that’s part of it. That’s what I’m looking for right now is comfort-ability and getting back in the rhythm of hitting and facing live pitching.”

What we learned II: The work IF Brett Wallace put in during the winter with hitting coach John Mallee is paying quick dividends. Wallace went 3-for-4 with a long homer to center field in the win while starting at third base.

“The ball I hit to center was a changeup, and that was something we worked on, being able to stay on my legs and if it’s not a fastball down the middle that I won’t come out of them and I will stay back on them,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely something we worked on and it’s encouraging and I just have to try to repeat it over and over.”

What else: SS Tyler Greene did a nice job at top of the lineup with two walks. Porter said when you’re not getting hits you sometimes get anxious, but it was a good sign for him to expand the zone and take his walks. … RHP John Ely, who’s battling for a starting spot, allowed a two-run homer in the fourth before coming back with a clean fifth. … OF Michael Burgess, who was taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, made a nice diving catch in foul territory to end the game. … RHP Josh Fields got on the mound for the first time, closing out the eighth and finishing the Tigers off in the ninth. … OF Robbie Grossman and OF Trevor Crowe each had two-run extra-base hits in the fifth.

What went wrong: Wallace, starting at third base, made a fielding error in the fifth inning that led to a run, but manager Bo Porter shrugged it off: “I think he knocked in more than he let in.”… Minor League IF Nolan Fontana had a throwing error.

What they said: “From a hitter standpoint, this is the time of year that you really want to work  on being on time with the fastball. Castro laid out some great swings, [Rick] Ankiel laid out some good swings, Wallace swung the bat well today. From a pitching standpoint, our pitchers did a great job, especially the starters [Erik] Bedard and Ely, of locating their fastballs well,” — Astros manager Bo Porter.

Here’s Erik Bedard, Brett Wallace, Jason Castro and Bo Porter on the game:

What’s next: RHP Alex White, acquired from the Rockies in a trade for Wilton Lopez in December, will make his first start of the season for the Astros when they travel to Dunedin, Fla., to meet the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Wednesday. He was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 23 games (20 starts) for Colorado last year.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to get an MRI and see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.

Links of the day: Jose Martinez, who was MVP at Double-A Corpus Christi last year, has overcame an unthinkable tragedy and has taken advantage of his second chance with the Astros. Here’s video of Martinez talking about his struggles:

The Astros notebook has Ambriz and Stassi talking about their injuries, prospects Nolan Fontana and Mike Foltynewicz on their appearance on the spring roster, Wallace on his comfort level at third base, plus much more.

The day in photos

Bud Norris.

My man Bud Norris.

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Brett Wallace and Michael Burgess.

Delino DeShields.

Delino DeShields.

Brett Wallace.

Brett Wallace.

Dallas Keuchel.

Dallas Keuchel.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana.

Nolan Fontana and Robbie Grossman.

Max Stassi and Robbie Grossman.

Wallace to Triple-A, Gonzalez makes club

Brett Wallace, who began last season as the Astros’ Opening Day first baseman and was competing for a backup infield spot this spring, was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in a series of roster moves announced by the club

Wallace was hitting .271 with one homer and seven RBIs in 48 spring at-bats entering Sunday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Tigers. He played both first and third base this spring in an effort to increase his versatility, but will start the year in the Minor Leagues.

The Astros also announced shortstop Marwin Gonzalez had made the Opening Day roster, along with outfielders J.D. Martinez and Brian Bogusevic, second baseman Jose Altuve and catcher Jason Castro. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the five players — all of whom are on an Opening Day roster for the first time — were notified prior to Sunday’s game by manager Brad Mills.

The only surprise in the group is Gonzalez, a Rule 5 pick who hasn’t had a good spring at the plate but has played terrific defense, including a pair of nice plays Sunday.

The moves leave the Astros with 31 players in camp ahead of Wednesday’s deadline to set the 25-man roster. Considering left-hander Sergio Escalona is still on the roster and is facing Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, the Astros have five remaining cuts to make.

As a Rule 5 pick, the Astros must keep Gonzalez on the 25-man roster all season or risk losing him.

Wallace, acquired by the Astros at the Trade Deadline in 2010, got off to a terrific start at the plate last April, but slowly watched his average decline. He was sent to the Minor Leagues at the end of July and return to the big league club when rosters expanded in September, but Carlos Lee was entrenched as the starter at first and rookie Jimmy Paredes had taken over at third.

Wallace will remain with the team through this week’s exhibition games and play third base in Oklahoma City.

 

Tumultuous weekend for Astros

What a weekend for the Astros.

When they get back together at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon, there should be some introductions in order. In the past 72 hours, the Astros traded away the best hitters in their lineup — outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn — and sent starting third baseman Chris Johnson and first baseman Brett Wallace to the Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Whew.

Instead of Bourn and Pence, fans will have to get to know players like Luis Durango and Jimmy Paredes. Who are they? They are the newest additions to the club and will join the team Monday. There’s a good chance when the Astros hit the field Monday against the Reds they’ll have three players in the lineup who spent most of the season at Double-A Corpus Christi. Houston Hooks, anyone?

With Johnson going to Oklahoma City, it looks as though Paredes will start at third base. He was iffy defensively during Spring Training when he was in the middle of the infield, and he strikes out three times more than he walks. But he’s as athletic as crazy and just 22 years, so I’m anxious to see what he’s got. Just like I’m anxious to see more of J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve.

I’m guessing Carlos Lee plays first base until Wallace returns. Jason Bourgeois will play center field until Schafer is healthy, with J.D. Martinez in left and perhaps Brian Bogusevic in right. Jason Michaels and Durango will be in the mix, too. When Schafer returns in about 10 days, Bourgeois could play right field. This all has to be sorted out.

The times certainly have changed for the Astros, and it’s going to require a large amount of patience from the fans. For the second year in a row, the Astros traded two key players and stocked up on prospects. If they pan out the way the Astros hope, they will be well-positioned for the future. As for now, it’s time to enjoy the kids.

The following links are a recap of the day’s coverage on MLB.com:

Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace talked to me about getting sent to the Minor Leagues

The Astros trade Michael Bourn to the Braves for Jordan Schafer and three prospects

Here’s everything you need to know about the prospects the Astros got from the Braves

Astros CF Michael Bourn talked to MLB.com following the trade and gave his thoughts

Astros general manager Ed Wade tried to trade Wandy Rodriguez, but they will try to slip him through waivers and try to deal him in August

On a final note: I’m taking the next few days off, but will be back in the saddle later this week. Thanks for turning to MLB.com for the best coverage of the Astros at the Trade Deadline.

Astros postgame notes from Tuesday

The Astros sure let one get away Tuesday, with second baseman Bill Hall committing a costly error with two outs in the third inning. Instead of escaping the inning, starter J.A. Happ gave up a grand slam homer to Jerry Sands that gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Dodgers sent down the final 12 batters of the game after the Astros had loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth to win, 5-4.

“It’s always unfortunate when the next guy comes up and hits the grand slam after you make an error,” Hallsaid. “[Happ] knows I’m out there playing my heart out, and I know he’s out there pitching his heart out. But sometimes the other team gets the best of you, and they got the best of us today.”

Here are some postgame notes:

  • The Astros have had 11 of their last 13 games decided by three runs or less, and nine games in that span decided by two runs or less.
  • LHP J.A. Happ suffered a tough-luck loss despite lowering his ERA to 4.99 to 5.30. He gave up only three hits and one earned run in five innings, but a grand slam homer accounted for four unearned runs.
  • Happ has allowed three earned runs or less in five of his last six starts, posting a 3.67 ERA in that span, which covers 34 1/3 innings.
  • The Astros’ bullpen threw four scoreless innings in relief of Happ. Since blowing a save in Atlanta on May 17, the bullpen has combined to throw 19 innings, allowing earned run in that span.
  • RF Hunter Pence had two doubles, giving him six straight multi-hit games and seven of his last eight. He is the 19th player in franchise history to have multiple hits in at least six straight games (Brett Wallace did it earlier this season).
  • 1B Carlos Lee went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. In 18 games in May, he’s hitting .314 with two homer sand 10 RBIs. He hit .194 in April.

Mills wants Lee to work through slump

Astros manager Brad Mills said it’s too early to consider any drastic lineup changes involving left-fielder Carlos Lee, who entered Thursday in an 0-for-15 slump in the clean-up spot, or first baseman Brett Wallace, who’s batted primarily fifth and is seventh in the National League in hitting.

Mills has faith Lee is going to break out of slumber and cites his stature and the fact he snapped out of an early-season slump last year as reasons to keep him put. Lee has hit fourth in the batting order in all 25 games and was hitting .198 with two homers and 13 RBIs entering Thursday.

“If you look at his numbers from June on last year, I think they were pretty good,” Mills said. “Is that going to happen this year? We don’t know, but we think there’s a pretty good chance because it happened last year and his track record of being so good in years past.

“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Carlos. He’s got a great attitude this year and we’ve been happy the way he’s played left field and a lot of the plays he’s made and the real good, solid at-bats he’s had. With his track record and what he’s done for the organization and for the teams he’s been on, there’s no doubt it’s a good time for him to work through this.”

Wallace extended his hitting streak to seven games Wednesday, during which he was hitting .552 (16-for-29), and remains in the fifth.

“There might be at some point down the line we might want to move him if that continues, but right now let’s let him be Brett Wallace and get three hits in a game like he’s done the last couple of days,” Mills said.

Wednesday’s post-game notes

It was a tough loss for the Astros on Wednesday. They were down 6-0 and scored three times in the eighth and twice in the ninth to get within 6-5 before Hunter Pence struck out swinging to end the game with the tying run at second base.

“The guys really gave me a golden opportunity, a great opportunity to get a big hit and I wasn’t able finish it off for them and pick it up,” Pence said. “He got me, and I’ve got to find a way to become better for it.”

You can read my entire game story by clicking here:

Here are the post-game notes:

  • Wednesday was the 900th game at Minute Maid Park. The Astros are 503-397 all-time in the venue.
  • The Astros turned five double plays on Wednesday, the most for the club in one game since it turned six on May 17, 2003 vs. the Phillies at Minute Maid Park.
  • LHP J.A. Happ extended his scoreless inning streak against the Cardinals to 12 2/3 innings before allowing a solo homer to Matt Holliday in the fourth inning Wednesday.
  • RF Hunter Pence now has 12 RBIs in 12 home games this year. He entered Wednesday tied for sixth in the league in RBIs at home.
  • 1B Brett Wallace extended his hitting streak to seven games by going 3-for-4 on Wednesday and has now hit safely in 15 of last 16 games with an at-bat. He’s hitting .443 (27-for-61) in that span.
  • SS Angel Sanchez extended his hitting streak to five games by going 2-for-5 Wednesday, which ties his season high. He’s hitting .409 (9-for-22) in those five games.
  • C J.R. Towles has now reahed base safely in all nine of his starts this season, hitting safely in eight of those nine games. Astros catchers are hitting .329 (27-for-82) this season.
  • SS Clint Barmes played in his third rehab game Wednesday, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and a walk for Double-A Corpus Christi in an 8-2 win at Midland. He’ll play for the Hooks again on Thursday and is expected to be activated on Friday to make his Astros debut.

Astros can’t catch a break

Things could have been so much different for the Astros on Wednesday. Had Wandy Rodriguez been able to get an inning-ending double play in the first — instead of having to settle for a fielder’s choice — the Cubs wouldn’t have later erupted for five runs in the inning.

Had Brett Wallace been able to clearly see Bill Hall’s blooper drop in right field and been able to get to second base, he wouldn’t have been forced out and perhaps would have scored on Matt Downs’ ensuing home run.

The Cubs scored three times in the ninth against the Astros bullpen to break the game open and win 9-5, but you couldn’t help but wonder what if?

“We fought at the plate and bounced back,” Downs said. “I feel like we fight to the end every night. We just haven’t caught some breaks here and there.”

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) nearly got an inning-ending double play in the first when he coerced Marlon Byrd to hit a one-out comebacker to the mound. Rodriguez threw to second for a force out, but shortstop Angel Sanchez’s relay throw to first base was late to keep the inning alive. The Cubs went on to score five two-out runs to take a 5-0 lead.

The Astros scored five times in the sixth to get within a run, 6-5, and could have pushed another run across the plate in the sixth and possibly tied the game. But first baseman Brett Wallace was an easy force out at second base after retreating to first on a blooper by Hall that fell between right fielder Tyler Colvin and second baseman Darwin Barney.

Wallace thought Colvin caught the ball and went back to first, where he was greeted by Hall urging him to scurry to second. The Cubs gladly took the force out as Carlos Lee crossed the plate to make it 6-3. Downs followed with a two-run homer that could have been a three-run homer.

“Just from that angle with the second baseman going back, you’re basically blocked out,” Wallace said. “It was just a ball that I have to be far enough to get to second if he doesn’t catch it, but in the same sense if he catches it and throws me out at first there’s point to being off. It was really just judgment. I couldn’t see the baseball and it looked like Colvin scooped it up.”

After watching the replay, Wallace thought he would have been thrown out at second anyway had he seen the ball drop.

“[Darwin] scooped it pretty cleanly and made a pretty good throw to second,” he said, “but it definitely would have looked a lot better if was making the out at second.”

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