Results tagged ‘ Bud Norris ’

Future looking brighter with Norris

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.


Norris relieved shoulder not damaged

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 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.


Norris to miss next start

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.

Astros need young pitchers to step up

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. 


Bagwell fond of Bud Norris

Astros icon Jeff Bagwell, who is a special assistant to the general manager as well as a television analyst for Saturday home games, has had a chance to see several of the up-and-coming players in the Minor Leagues the last few years. And Bagwell likes what he has seen from Bud Norris, who won a spot in the Astros’ rotation this year but was roughed up in his debut Friday.

“I expect a lot from Bud Norris,” Bagwell said. “Bud has great stuff, he’s got a personality that maybe even his teammates don’t like. But I love him. Anybody that really loves baseball would love it. Bud is off the wall. He’s not arrogant, but he believes in his ability and he’s got tons of ability.

“He’s got a chance to be in our organization pitching first or second in the rotation for years to come, and so I’m excited about that. I truly love him, and I think he’s going to do great. I really do. That’s a nice thing for us for the future.”

Bagwell said developing pitching is crucial these days considering how expensive pitchers are on the open market.

“I remember back in 2001 our young kids coming up, we had Roy [Oswalt], Wade [Miller], Carlos [Hernandez] and Tim [Redding], and I remember sitting here talking to [Craig Biggio] and saying we have a chance to be good for while,” Bagwell said. “In today’s game it’s very hard to go out and pay for pitching because pitching costs so much money. You can get a 10-10 guy and you have to pay him $11 million and he has an ERA of 4.50. If we develop our own guys, we have time to keep them in our own nest.”


Here’s what Astros general manager Ed Wade had to say Saturday afternoon about the club’s 0-4 start:

“You’ve got to come out and play,” Wade said. “We’ve got a good ballclub and I know the guys that are struggling right now are going to hit. It’s not seven rookies we’re counting on to come through. There are guys with some pretty good track records who are struggling right now, so it’s an adjustment they’re able to make on their own, but part of it is breathing through your eyes and relaxing and let it flow.

“As opportunities present themselves and guys are struggling, as is usually the case people begin to press a little bit and it becomes, ‘Are we going to win a game before we leave town? Are we going to win tonight?’ They’re hearing it at the grocery story and every place else they go, and it’s human nature to press a little bit.

“They just have to prepare and play, and that’s normally what they’ve done every game I’ve been around these guys. They prepare well and put their best foot forward.”


Day 21 recap: Astros split a pair of games

The Astros finally got on the field Saturday after having two road games rained out and they beat the Washington Nationals 8-7 with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth by Minor Leaguer Jack Shuck to improve to 4-4. It was another one of those gusty, windy days at Osceola County Stadium, where balls were carrying to right field and made playing the outfield difficult.

The Astros were a split-squad on Saturday and lost 8-5 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Here’s the breakdown of the game against the Nationals:

The good: Bud Norris looked sharp, despite giving up a homer to Ryan Zimmerman on an 0-2, two-out pitch in the third. Zimmerman got the ball up in the air and it carried out of the ballpark with the help of the wind. He gave up three hits, two runs and two walks in three innings.

“I felt good,” Norris said. “That was the big part was staying healthy. It felt good to extend myself a little bit more, but the No. 1 priority was to go out there and be healthy and throw strikes, which I did. The conditions were a little tough, obviously, but being healthy was the key.”

Norris worked in his changeup against Washington’s left-handed heavy lineup.

“I’ve been working on it a lot this year and I’m happy with it,” he said.

Matt Lindstrom looked extremely sharp in throwing a 1-2-3 fourth, and Shane Loux added a scoreless inning. At the plate, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Minor Leaguer Brandon Barnes had two hits each, and Pedro Feliz went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .556. Edwin Maysonet had a two-run double and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second. Houston had 16  hits.

The bad: Without getting into specifics, Mills said he wanted to see better execution on running the bases and defense. Granted, it was a difficult day to judge where balls were going to wind up when they were hit into the breezy outfield, but Mills wasn’t using that as an excuse.

Another injury problem cropped up Saturday when right-hander Yorman Bazardo was forced to leave the mound with what was diagnosed with tightness in his right shoulder. Bazardo, who threw only three pitches, said he felt it in the bullpen but felt fine warming up on the mound. He will take the next two days off from throwing.

“They told me it was muscle tightness and nothing serious,” Bazardo said.

Jeff Fulchino allowed three hits and two runs in one inning.

What they said: “You go through a time in Spring Training, and I was hoping we weren’t there yet until after the off day [Monday], but a lot of time things don’t flow like they should, especially with the wind blowing and the balls being kind of blown all over the place. Sometimes guys get confused on where they should go or tag up or go or whatever. That’s the confusion I’m talking about. They’re good players and so many times when the ball goes up in the air the situation they planned on in their mind changes because of the direction the wind’s blowing. It’s not an excuse, and these guys have done it well before and will do it well again.” – manager Brad Mills said.

What’s next: Right-hander Brett Myers will make his third start of the spring when the Astros face the Atlanta Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Osceola County Stadium. This game could give us a look at what the Astros’ lineup could look like without Lance Berkman, who will miss two to four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Sunday.

Highlights from the game against the Cardinals in Jupiter:

  • RHP Felipe Paulino started and threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk. He threw 23 pitches (17 strikes) and then went to the bullpen and threw an additional 24 pitches, pushing his day total to 47.
  • Chris Shelton, who could be in the mix to make the Opening Day roster if Lance Berkman begins the season on the disabled list, homered. Tommy Manzella went 2-for-3 and Minor Leaguer Drew Locke was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui were both 0-for-4.
  • LHP Wesley Wright gave up four hits and four runs (two earned) in 1 1/3 innings and suffered the loss. Chia-Jen Lo allowed three hits and three runs and two walks in one inning. Gary Majewski and Polin Trinidad threw scoreless innings.

Astro-notes: Mills said the players will be given Monday off from working out, which is an off day on their Grapefruit League schedule. … Right-hander Alberto Arias, who was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation Friday, will now throw until Sunday, after which he will be reexamined. Arias said Saturday his shoulder felt better after treatment, and he could get a cortisone shot soon if he needs it. … Right-hander Brandon Lyon, who faced live hitters in the batting cage Thursday for the first time this spring, said Saturday he felt good. Mills said Lyon could face hitters again Sunday and even gave a hint to what is ahead: “We’re going to take it precautionary and bring him along slow. If he does throw well, it might in a couple of a days [when he gets in a game]. Let’s get through tomorrow’s hurdle first.” … Right-hander Brian Moehler, who was scheduled to start Friday’s game that was rained out in Dunedin, will start Tuesday’s split-squad game at the Yankees, Mills said. Moehler threw 61 pitches in a three-inning simulated game inside the batting cage in Kissimmee upon the team’s arrival from Dunedin on Friday. … With Opening Day nearly three weeks away and starters getting stretched out more in each start, the Astros will likely have to start sending players to Minor League camp soon. Here’s what Mills had to say about that: “We’ll wait and see. I haven’t sat down and talked to [GM] Ed [Wade] about it, but here becomes a time the guys that are going to be on the ballgame need to get regular at-bats on a consistent bases be ready. We’re not too far away from it, is what I’m saying.” … Catcher Jason Castro is back with the club and was in the starting lineup Saturday against Washington and played six innings. He missed two days of workouts earlier in the week. He said he had a fever of 102 degress each day.

Day 17: Catchers look good; pitchers not so much

Astros pitchers took their lumps once again Monday, giving up 14 hits and five walks in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Osceola County Stadium. Bud Norris looked good in his debut and J.R. Towles had three of the team’s seven hits, but a couple of relievers struggled to throw strikes.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Norris, making his first start of the spring, gave up two hits, one run, two walks and struck out two batters in two innings. He allowed a homer to Toronto catcher J.P. Arenciba, but didn’t allow any batters to reach second outside of that. The only reliever to throw a 1-2-3 inning was Wilton Lopez, but Jeff Fulchino, Casey Daigle, Yorman Barzardo and Chia-Jen Lo had scoreless frames.

Rookie catcher Jason Castro went 1-for-3 and also threw out Joey Gathright trying to steal second base in the first inning. Towles was 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI and accounted for three of Houston’s seven hits. Tommy Manzella, Michael Bourn and Cory Sullvan also had hits.

The bad: Left-hander Tim Byrdak was roughed up in relief, giving up three hits and two runs in one inning. Byrdak went to the bullpen after his outing to work on his mechanics. Gustavo Chacin gave up three hits and one run in one inning, and Yorman Bazardo gave up three hits before pitching his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep his ERA at 13.50.

Houston was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and managed only two extra-base hits on Towles’ doubles. The Astros committed an error when Chacin and Lance Berkman got mixed up about who should cover first base, and Berkman wound up flipping a ball that hit Chacin in the back, allowing a runner to advance.

What they said: “They scored four runs on [14] hits, so they worked out of some pretty good jams, so they had to make some adjustments along the way. Bud was trying to go down and away with that 1-2 fastball and he left it up over the middle, and the guy smoked it. That was his one run. Byrdak gave up those two runs and got a little off center. They hit a couple of balls on Gustavo. On the other side of the ball, you’d like to be able to string some thing together and Towles ends up with three of our seven hits. Their two left-handers, [J.C.] Romero and [Dana] Eveland, kind of shut us down a little bit.” – manager Brad Mills.

What’s next: Brett Myers makes his second start of the spring when the Astros travel to Port St. Lucie to meet the New York Mets at 12:05 p.m. Central. The Astros will be playing without the meat of their batting order as Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee will stay in Kissimmee, Fla., to get their work in. Former Astros farmhand Johan Santana will start for the Mets.

Matt Lindstrom, Alberto Arias, Chris Sampson, Sammy Gervacio, Shane Loux and Wesley Wright are also scheduled to pitch for the Astros. Also, Polin Trinidad, Evan Englebrook and Jose Valdez will throw in a Minor League game on Tuesday in Kissimmee.

Day 9: Pick-offs and rundowns rule the morning

Sunday was the final day Astros pitchers threw living batting practice as right-handers Roy Corcoran, Brian Moehler, Chris Sampson, Gary Majewski, Felipe Paulino, Sammy Gervacio, Alberto Arias, Josh Banks, Bud Norris, Casey Daigle, Matt Nevarez, Chia-Jen Lo and Jose Valdez and left-hander Gustavo Chacin got their work in.

The pitchers will throw lightly in the bullpen over the next three days before Wednesday’s intra-squad game. The Astros open Grapefruit League play Thursday against the Atlanta Braves with right-hander Brett Myers getting the start.

Astros manager Brad Mills came away impressed Sunday with how Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino threw the ball.

Prior to live batting practice, the Astros worked on pick-offs and rundowns with 2010 first-round Draft pick Jiovanni Mier and prospect Jay Austin among those who came over from Minor League mini camp to serve as one of the runners.

“The thing that stood out today is the intensity which we did our pick-offs and rundowns with,” Mills said. “If you don’t have the intensity it’s tough to get anything out of it, and they did a real good job. I was happy that the kids from our mini camp came over and were the base runners, and that helps out a little bit because we’ve got some guys that know how to run the bases a little bit so the guys have to have that intensity.”


Here the pitching lineups for Wednesday’s seven-inning intrasquad game:

Home team: Brian Moehler, Matt Lindstrom, Shane Loux, Wilton Lopez, Henry Villar, Polin Trinidad, Chia-Jen Lo and Jose Valdez.

Visiting team: Bud Norris, Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino, Yorman Bazardo, Josh Banks, Matt Nevarez, Evan Englebrook and Fernando Abad.

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).


Astros face rotation questions

Unless Roy Oswalt makes a drastic improvement in his battle with a strained lower back, he’s likely headed to the disabled list Monday, leaving the Astros in need of a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against the Giants.

There really isn’t anyone in the bullpen who at this point would be capable of starting, so it’s likely the Astros would have to call upon a player from Triple-A Round Rock. The most likely candidate is Yorman Bazardo, who was 9-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 21 games (18 starts) entering Friday.

Because of Thursday’s off day, putting Oswalt on the DL would mean he would only miss two starts, so don’t reach for the panic button. He was originally started to pitch Sunday, but rookie Bud Norris will take his spot. Russ Ortiz was scheduled to go Tuesday before his release, and Oswalt will wait until Monday to see if he’s ready for that.

Now, on Friday I asked Roy about his back and I think he took a shot at me. He said his back was hurting, but he could do about 90 percent of the jobs in America, but pitching wasn’t one of them. I asked him if he could do my job, and he said his hands feel good.

Hey, pal, this job isn’t as easy as it looks from down there on the field.