Results tagged ‘ Bud Norris ’
The Astros earned their first win of the Grapefruit League season on Wednesday, beating the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in Lakeland, Fla. Meanwhile, the split-squad Astros dropped a 6-5 decision to the New York Yankees in Tampa, giving up five runs in the ninth.
More on the Yankees game below, but here’s the breakdown on the Astros-Tigers game:
What went right: The Astros got some sharp pitching performances, led by J.A. Happ throwing two scoreless innings in his spring debut. Happ looked effortless as always and stayed ahead in the count, which enabled him to use all his pitches.
Ross Wolf followed Happ with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, and drew the praise of manager Brad Mills. Wilton Lopez did his usual thing, throwing a scoreless fifth, and David Carpenter – the right-hander acquired in the Pedro Feliz trade with the Cardinals – tossed two perfect innings.
“How about Wolf mixing the pitches in and out and throwing only 17 pitches, and Lopez and Carpenter threw the ball real well,” Mills said. “To see those kids come in and contribute this early in camp is outstanding.”
At the plate, T.J. Steele went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored and made a pair of nice defensive plays in center field. Hunter Pence went 2-for-3, and Tommy Manzella was 2-for-3 and made a terrific barehanded defensive play behind second base and threw out Victor Martinez.
Oswaldo Navarro hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning in his only at-bat to break the game open.
After getting just one extra-base hit in their first two games, the Astros had four of them against the Tigers – Navarro’s homer, Steele’s double, a triple by Pence and a double by Manzella.
What went wrong: The biggest negative development was the injury to Jason Castro, who sprained his right knee trying to beat out a ground ball in the seventh inning. He was removed from the game and will undergo an MRI on Thursday. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Sergio Escalona allowed two hits and one earned run in one inning, and Jorge De Leon gave up one hit, one walk and two earned runs in one inning.
What they said: “Steele in center, how good was that? He made two absolutely outstanding catches. We got some extra-base hits today, besides the home run. We had a triple and a couple of doubles and it was nice to throw those in there. We were able to execute. [Brian] Dopirak had trouble getting some guys in from third, but at the same time the wind didn’t help him out, either. Those little things, Steele bunting a guy over and Austin Wates bunting a guy over, that keeps an inning going. That was huge.” - manager Brad Mills.
What’s next: Nelson Figueroa, one of five candidates for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, makes his first start of the spring when the Astros play host to the Florida Marlins on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium. He’s expected to pitch two innings. Henry Villar, Enerio Del Rosario, Fernando Rodriguez, Aneury Rodriguez, Lance Pendleton and Wesley Wright are also scheduled to throw.
Injury update: Catcher Jason Castro sprained his right knee in the seventh inning and will undergo an MRI on Thursday. … Right-hander Alberto Arias, who’s had a setback in his comeback from last year’s surgery, was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
The Astros lost a tough game, 6-5, to the Yankees in Tampa, but pthey layed eight solid innings before imploding in the ninth. The Astros had 12 hits in the game – two by Jason Michaels, J.B. Shuck and Bill Hall. Bud Norris started and gave up one run in two innings, and Casey Fien, Arcenio Leon, Jose Valdez and Cesar Carrilloo each threw a scoreless inning in relief. Jordan Lyles pitched two innings and gave up one hit and two walks, but no runs.
Douglas Arguello gave up the five runs, but only two were earned because of errors by Jiovanni Mier and Mike Kvasnicka, who was pulled over from Minor League camp. Lance Pendleton threw four consecutive balls to walk in the winning run, but was put in an impossible position.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said he saw plenty to be happy about. He liked the situational hitting and was pleased to see Michael Bourn get a bunt base hit and Shuck register two bunt hits.
Astros left fielder Carlos Lee will make his annual voyage to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Wednesday and will miss workouts on Thursday and Friday. Lee is a cattle rancher and shows livestock each year at the rodeo.
And finally, a few photos taken prior to Wednesday’s game in Lakeland:
Above: Astros players await batting practice Wednesday in Lakeland.
Above: Non-roster first baseman Brian Dopirak warms up. He has 156 career homers in the Minor Leagues — including 39 in Class A in 2004 — and is trying to reach Majors for first time.
Above: Drew Locke takes a swing in the cage during batting practice.
Above: Jeff Bagwell and Hunter Pence watching batting practice (Bagwell is standing on a platform).
The Astros have 30 healthy pitchers in camp, many of whom have a chance to make the team. There will be only 12 spots on the active Major League roster on Opening Day, and the battles for the final spots in the rotation and in the bullpen figure to go down the final days of camp. Considering that Thursday was only the second day, we have miles to go.
The pitchers who didn’t throw off the bullpen mounds Wednesday were able to get on the bump Thursday, including Mark Melancon, Bud Norris, Nelson Figueroa and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Astros manager Brad Mills stood behind the pack of 10 mounds and watched this group of pitchers throw for the first time this spring.
“Bud threw the ball really well,” Mills said. “I thought the command Rowland-Smitih showed down in the zone was really good. We’ve seen some good arms the last few days.”
Mills said he didn’t get a chance to see Alberto Arias throw in a controlled setting for the first time since he underwent right shoulder surgery April 22, but he made it a point to ask the right-hander how he felt.
“He said his arm felt fine,” Mills said.
The pitching groups will alternate throwing in the bullpen the next two days before taking Sunday off. Position players work out for the first time Sunday, and they will get thrown right into the fire. Mills said the pitchers will throw live batting practice to the hitters on Monday.
Meanwhile, the position players continue to trickle into the facility. Matt Downs arrived Thursday morning, and Jason Bourgeois checked in the afternoon.
Earlier today, I posted a photo of Sergio Escalona wearing Roy Oswalt’s No. 44 jersey. It was an unusual sight, to say the least, so I’m capping today’s coverage with another unusual sight — the great beard of relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino. At least, I think that’s Fulchino behind that hair.
The Astros rotation certainly isn’t among the deepest in baseball and they don’t have the horses at the top you’d expect to contend in the Cy Young race, but they do have stability. And that could go a long way in determining the club’s chances to compete in the National League Central the next few years.
After announcing they had locked up left-hander Wandy Rodriguez with a three-year, $34-million contract extension on Tuesday, the top four pitchers in the team’s rotation heading into Spring Training are under club control for at least the next two years and possibly longer, depending on vesting options.
“We’re very pleased to get this done,” general manager Ed Wade. “Wandy is one of the top left-handed starters in the game. With pending free agency and its uncertainty, it made all the sense in the world for us. Wandy made it clear he wants to be a part of the Astros. Now, he’ll be here for at least the next three years and hopefully beyond that.”
Here’s a glance at the top four starters in the Astros rotation:
RHP Brett Myers
Contract status: Signed through 2012. The contract is guaranteed for the 2011 and 2012 seasons and carries a 2013 club option that could become vested through Myers’ 2012 performance. The two-year guaranteed value, including a buyout on the option year, guarantees Myers $21 million. If the contract carries through 2013, it will guarantee Myers $28 million. The pact also contains additional performance bonus potential that could raise the total value to $29.5 million.
2010 record: 14-8, 3.14 ERA.
Career record: 87-71, 4.20 ERA in nine seasons.
Comment: Myers is coming off a career year that he parlayed into a lucrative contract extension midseason last year. He’s become the leader of the staff following the departure of Roy Oswalt and is a terrific competitor who wants the ball.
LHP Wandy Rodriguez
Contract status: Signed through 2013. The Astros on Tuesday agreed to deal with Rodriguez that will pay him a three-year deal with a guaranteed $34 million. He has a 2014 vesting option that would push the total value of the deal to $44.5 million.
2010 record: 11-12, 3.60 ERA.
Career record: 62-64, 4.18 ERA in six seasons.
Comment: Rodriguez, the only remaining member from the 2005 World Series team, pitched like an All-Star in 2009 and in the second half of last year. That’s the pitcher the Astros threw $34 million at on Tuesday, and not the one who struggled mightily in the first half of the 2010 season.
LHP J.A. Happ
Contract status: Signed through 2014. Will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2012. He made $470,000 last year, and his 2012 salary has yet to be determined.
2010 record: 6-4, 3.40 ERA (with Phillies and Astros).
Career record: 19-9, 3.27 ERA in four seasons.
Comment: The Astros were thrilled to get Happ from the Phillies in the Oswalt trade. He’s still relatively young, doesn’t make much money and heretofore has been a dependable Major League pitcher.
RHP Bud Norris
Contract status: Signed through 2015. Will be arbitration eligible in 2013 and is scheduled to hit free agency in 2016.
2010 record: 9-10, 4.92 ERA.
Career record: 15-13, 4.82 ERA in 1 1/2 seasons.
Comment: Has the kind of stuff to have a long Major League career. Norris could be poised for a breakout season in 2011.
Perhaps it’s foolish to assume Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn and Wandy Rodriguez will each have rebound seasons, and perhaps it’s too much to ask Hunter Pence and Bud Norris to keep improving. Can Brett Myers and Chris Johnson possibly duplicate their success of a year ago? That, too, is a question the Astros will ponder.
For the Astros to make any kind of noise in an improved National League Central in 2011, they will certainly everyone to be at their best. They’ll need Lee and Wandy to perform like they did in the second half, and Pence and Norris to continue to blossom. They’ll need Myers and Johnson to prove last year wasn’t a fluke, and newcomers Bill Hall and Clint Barmes to make an immediate impact.
These are not unreasonable expectations, though it’s likely there are going to be road bumps. But more than anything else, the Astros’ need to get more from their youngsters, specifically catcher Jason Castro and first baseman Brett Wallace. The Astros are committed to these two left-handed bats in the lineup, both of whom were taken high in the first round in the 2008 Draft.
Wallace, traded from the Blue Jays last July, and Castro both got their feet wet in 2010 with varing degrees of success/disappointment. But now it’s time for them to jump right in. Imagine how the whole lineup would change if Wallace slugs like he did in the Minor Leagues and Castro blossoms into a solid hitter? That would suddenly give the Astros a deep batting order to go along with a pretty good rotation.
The Astros dealt with and certainly expected both to struggle a year ago, but now they’re fully invested in Wallace and Castro. The Astros have some good catching prospects on the farm, but none on the immediate horizon. Castro is the guy. The team toyed with bringing in a left-fielder as an insurance policy if Lee had to move to first to replace Wallace, but general manager Ed Wade said at the Winter Meetings they wanted to remain fully committed to Wallace.
Hopefully, for the Astros’s sake, Wallace and Castro can reward that confidence this season and come into their own.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and, like most of you, I’m back to work this week. We’ll find out Wednesday if Astros icon Jeff Bagwell made it into the Hall of Fame, and the more I hear and see feedback from those with a vote, the less likely I think it is that he’ll make it on the first ballot. Colleague Peter Gammons thinks he should make it eventually, for what it’s worth.
Wednesday also begins the salary arbitration filing period, a list that is now down to five players following the trade of Matt Lindstrom: Wandy Rodriguez, Clint Barmes, Jeff Keppinger, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.
Here is the second-to-last installment of our Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. The Astros had a decent starting rotation last year, with the ability to be pretty good next season. Here’s a look at the starting staff:
2010 rotation to begin season: Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino.
2010 end-of-season rotation: Brett Myers, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa.
Others who made a start: Felipe Paulino, Brian Moehler, Wesley Wright, Josh Banks.
Combined 2010 stats of Astros starting pitchers: 52-63, 3.90 ERA (seventh-best in NL), 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 857 strikeouts (second in NL), 380 walks (most in NL).
Free agents: Brian Moehler.
Arbitration eligible: Wandy Rodriguez, Nelson Figueroa, Felipe Paulino.
What happened: The Astros signed Brett Myers late last winter to help legitimize a rotation that included Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino. Oswalt got off to a strong start, but once again suffered poor run support and began grumbling about wanting to be traded, which he eventually was. Rodriguez, coming off a breakout season, stumbled badly out of the gate as the losses piled up for the Astros. Norris got better as the season progressed and finished strong, and Paulino had a brief stretch of dominance before an injury ended his season.
Oswalt made 20 starts with the Astros before being traded and was 6-12, but had a respectable 3.42 ERA. With the team slipping out of contention, he told the Astros in May he wanted to be traded. The club granted his wish in July and sent him to the Phillies in a blockbuster deal in which the team got J.A. Happ in return. Oswalt, who finished one win shy of tying Joe Niekro’s club record, was terrific in Philadelphia, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts.
Rodriguez, the team’s Pitcher of the Year in 2009, was terrible to begin the season. He went 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA in his first 14 starts (the team was 4-10 in those starts) before rallying in the second half. He went 8-2 in his final 18 starts and posted a 2.03 ERA, which was the second-best NL in the ERA in that span. He finished the season with 13 consecutive quality starts, the fourth-longest such streak in franchise history, to finish 11-13 with a 3.60 ERA.
Myers, who signed for a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $5.1 million, proved to be one of the best free-agent signings of the season. He went 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA and pitched a career-high 223 2/3 innings, leading the team in wins and ERA by a starter. Myers threw at least six innings in his first 32 starts of the season before coming up one out shy of being able to make it 33-for-33 in his final start of the year. He parlayed the strong season into a three-year contract extension.
Norris, who had only 10 starts under his belt beginning the year, stayed in the rotation all season, missing about a month in June with bursitis and biceps tendinitis. He was 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA in his first 14 starts of the year. He was 7-3 with a 3.84 ERA in his final 14 starts to finish 9-10 with a 4.92 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out a Minute Maid Park-record 14 against the Pirates on Aug. 14.
Paulino didn’t win a game until his 11th start of the season. He was 0-7 with a 4.40 ERA in his first 10 starts and was the victim of poor run support. He finally broke through June 4 against the Cubs, allowing one run in eight innings. In a five-start stretch from May 19-June 9, he was 1-1 with a 1.75 ERA. Paulino went on the DL on June 21 and missed nearly three months with right shoulder tendinitis. He made five relief appearances in September and wound up finishing 1-9 with a 5.11 ERA in 19 games (14 starts).
Happ, acquired in the Oswalt trade, made 13 starts for the Astros and was 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA. He was winless in his final five starts, going 0-2 with a 4.81 ERA.
The Astros claimed Nelson Figueroa off waivers in the middle of the season and he wound up in the rotation, going 5-3 with a 5.22 ERA in 18 games, including 4-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 10 starts. Veteran Brian Moehler made eight starts for the Astros (and 12 relief appearances) before his season ended in early July with a left groin strain that eventually required surgery. Left-hander Wesley Wright made four starts, and Josh Banks came up from the Minor Leagues to make one start.
What’s next: The Astros are content with the top of their rotation, especially if Myers pitches like he did last season and Rodriguez continues his second-half dominance. Happ is a steady left-hander who should be able to eat up innings and keep the Astros in games if he remains healthy. The Astros were pleased with the progress of Norris and are content with him opening next season as their No. 4 starter.
The biggest question is who’s going to be the fifth starter? Paulino and Figueroa will be given a look, unless the Astros are able to acquire another pitcher in the offseason. The Astros will try to sign a low-cost veteran like they did last offseason with Myers and hope they have similar results. If not, Paulino, Figueroa and prospect Jordan Lyles will battle for a spot in the rotation next spring.
Who’s on the farm: Lyles, the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, is only 19 and has a world of potential. He posted a 7-12 record and a 3.57 ERA in 27 games, 26 starts, between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Lyles spent the majority of his season with Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 7-9 record and a 3.12 ERA in 21 games, 20 starts. Douglas Arguello (7-5, 2.55 ERA) had a solid season at Double-A Corpus Christi. Kyle Greenwalt (8-7, 5.93 ERA), Brad Dydalewicz (1-6, 11.39 ERA), Dallas Keuchel (5-8, 3.36 ERA) and Ross Seaton (6-13, 6.64 ERA) had varying degrees of success at Double-A. Mike Foltynewicz, a first-round pick this year, and right-hander Tanner Bushue have world of potential, but aren’t quite ready yet.
No matter what happens in Sunday’s finale against the Mets, the Astros have had a very good road trip. They entered Sunday’s game at Citi Field with a 6-3 record on the trip, ensuring them their first winning road trip of the season
Bud Norris (6-7, 5.03 ERA) starts for the Astros on Sunday against knuckle baller R.A. Dickey (8-5, 2.64 ERA), who threw so well against the Astros a couple of weeks ago.
Shortstop Tommy Manzella, who had a career-high three hits Saturday, is hitting second in the lineup. Carlos Lee is starting at first base for the second game in a row, as manager Brad Mills has Jason Michaels in the spacious left field at Citi Field. And Geoff Blum returns to the starting lineup, starting at second base.
Here are the lineups:
CF Michael Bourn — Has a seven-game hitting streak (.400)
SS Tommy Manzella — Hitting .273 in August
RF Hunter Pence — Has 30 RBIs since the All-Star break
1B Carlos Lee — Leads the Majors in RBIs since July 28 (28)
2B Geoff Blum — Hitting .296 on the road this year
LF Jason Michaels — Hitting .310 with five homers, 18 RBIs in last 42 games with an AB
3B Chris Johnson — Second in the NL in batting (.362) since All-Star break
C Jason Castro — Has thrown out 10 of 36 runners trying to steal
RHP Bud Norris — Is 4-0 with a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts, with the Astros going 6-0
RF Angel Pagan
2B Luis Castillo
CF Carlos Beltran
LF Chris Carter
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
C Josh Thole
SS Luis Hernandez
RHP R.A. Dickey
Bud Norris struck out 14 batters in seven innings Saturday and seems to be getting better as the season is progressing. This is terrific news for the Astros, who are counting on Norris and Jordan Lyles to be two of their young arms to anchor the rotation in the next few years.
The 14 strikeouts by Norris (5-7) are a career high, a record for Minute Maid Park and the most by an Astros pitcher since Wade Miller struck out 14 on May 30, 2003 at Wrigley Field. The last Astros pitcher with more than 14 strikeouts in a game was Randy Johnson, who whiffed 16 on Aug. 28, 1998 in the Astrodome.
Norris also tied Detroit’s Max Scherzer and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg for the second-most strikeouts in the Majors this year, trailing Toronto’s Brandon Morrow (17 on Aug. 8).
“I had no idea it was a [ballpark] record,” Norris said. “I’m trying to go out there and make pitches and the way [pitching coach Brad] Arnsberg and [catcher Humberto] Quintero had a report, I just had to go out there and execute my pitches and the game plan and [the strikeouts] game. Like I always say, I’m not going out there trying to strike guys out; I’m just trying to get outs.”
If Lyles lives up to the hype and Norris continues to blossom, the Astros’ rotation next year could set up quite nicely with Brett Myers and a rejuvenated Wandy Rodriguez at the top. And so far there’s no reason to believe J.A. Happ won’t be a terrific piece of the puzzle.
Felipe Paulino could be in the mix, too, but he has to prove he’s healthy, which has been a problem. As long as Norris remains healthy, he should continue to pile up the strikeouts and eventually more wins.
Astros pitcher Bud Norris was relieved to learn Friday he had no major complications with his shoulder after undergoing an examination and an MRI. Norris got a cortisone shot and was placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, but he told MLB.com from Houston the news was as good as could be expected.
“I’m happy to a certain degree,” Norris said. “I want to be out there helping my team, but it’s something that’s been bugging me off and on and I have to give credit to the Astros for getting me checked out. There was a lot of fluid in there and I got a cortisone shot, but the MRI didn’t show any labrum or rotator cuff damage, which is a relief. They’re very happy about that. It’s a much better idea to nip it in the bud and get back out there when the time is right.”
Norris, who is 2-5 with a 6.80 ERA this year in nine starts, said the shoulder as been bothering him at different times during the season, but he wasn’t about to make any excuses.
“It’s been bothering me off and on,” Norris said. “As a starting pitcher, you have to know when to pitch through it and when you can’t. Sometimes I felt good out there and sometimes not so great. I haven’t been getting the best results, so it was good to get it checked out.”
Norris can come off the disabled list June 8 at Colorado.
Right-hander Bud Norris will miss his next scheduled start Saturday in Cincinnati after being diagnosed Thursday with biceps tendinitis. The Astros have yet to announce who will take Norris’ spot in the rotation.
Norris (2-5, 6.80 ERA) reported to head athletic trainer Nate Lucero on Thursday morning complaining of right shoulder soreness and is expected to return Houston soon to be examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner.
Norris has pitched beyond the fifth inning in only one start this year, an eight-inning gem against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 13. In his most recent start Sunday, Norris struck out a career-high 10 batters and gave up six hits and five runs (four earned) in five innings in a no-decision against the Rays.
Right-hander Brian Moehler, who hasn’t pitched since Sunday, could be put into the rotation. Moehler has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this year but has started 55 games the past two seasons for the Astros.
Bud Norris struggled with his control Tuesday against the Reds, walking four batters and hitting one more in six-plus innings of work. He took the loss to fall to 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA through four starts. Right-hander Felipe Paulino will carry an 0-2 record and 5.94 ERA into his fourth start Wednesday against the Reds.
With Roy Oswalt on top of his game, Wandy Rodriguez getting better by the start and Brett Myers pitching in and out of trouble to keep his team competitive nearly every start, the Astros’ chances of staying relevant in the NL Central could fall into the hands of Norris and Paulino.
At this time last year, the Astros had Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz and Brian Moehler at the bottom of the rotation, so they’re in much better shape with Norris and Paulino. Both of them have tremendous stuff and the ability to dominate, and their best years are still ahead of them, unlike Hampton and Ortiz.
Norris has just 14 Major League starts under his belt and has been up and down, and Paulino has started only 23 games in his career and this year has pitched better than the numbers have indicated. If this is the year one of them or — dare we say? — both of them figure it all out, the Astros have the makings of a pretty good rotation in the future. Perhaps that future begins Wednesday.