Results tagged ‘ Carlos Lee ’

Lee, Quintero both sidelined to start Grapefruit League play

First baseman Carlos Lee, who was originally in the lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Nationals, said the mild right hamstring strain that caused him to be scratched isn’t serious and that he’s aiming to be in the lineup Monday against the Braves

“It’s something that happened in the offseason when I was running and I never felt it pull or nothing,” he said. “I was running one afternoon and the next day I woke up and it was kind of sore. I was treating it in Panama, too, and I feel a lot better. I ran yesterday and have been doing some exercises, and it’s feeling pretty good. I didn’t want to push it today. I’ll run some more today and tomorrow and I’m shooting for Monday.”

Astros manager Brad Mills isn’t too worried

“We knew it was like that when he came into camp and we’ve tried to hold off as much as we could as far as testing him, to see if he could play,” he said. “Yesterday, the day before we started playing, we ran him through some pretty good tests and after running through those tests we felt it would be best to give him two more days off. We’ll see how it is after tomorrow and see where he’s at for Monday.”

Meanwhile, catcher Humberto Quintero’s back is acting up again and will keep him out of game action for a couple of days. Quintero was scheduled play Saturday after starter Jason Castro left the game, but Carlos Corporan will get that time instead.

“We’ll probably hold him out of today and tomorrow as well and hopefully we’re able to get him behind the plate on Monday and Tuesday,” Mills said. “We were hoping to get him into the game today after Castro. We’ll hold off on that.”

Mills said third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) has been cleared to start swinging a bat from the right side of the plate. Infielder Angel Sanchez keeps progressing from his back injury and might begin swinging off a tee on Saturday.

Here is Saturday’s lineup against the Nats:

LF J.B. Shuck

2B Jose Altuve

RF Travis Buck

DH Jack Cust

3B Chris Johnson

SS Jed Lowrie

1B Brett Wallace

CF Jason Bourgeois

C Jason Castro

SP Livan Hernandez

Who’s the Astros’ MVP in 2011

When outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were traded in late July, the race for Astros Most Valuable Player suddenly became wide open. Astros manager Brad Mills was asked Friday who he thought should get it, and he threw out the names of Clint Barmes, Matt Downs, Carlos Lee, Bud Norris and Wandy Rodriguez.

If you look at statistics, Lee appears on his way to 20 homers and 90 RBIs, which could give him the edge. Barmes has played a Gold Glove-caliber defense and has shown some pop offensively, though he’s remained under .250 for much of the year. Downs has been a huge catalyst off the bench has had some huge hits, and Rodriguez has an 11-10 record on a team that’s going to lose 100 games.

So who’s your pick for team MVP in 2011?

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.

Taking a shot at the Astros 25-man roster

We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.

Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:

CATCHERS (2)

Humberto Quintero

J.R. Towles

Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.

INFIELDERS (6)

Brett Wallace (L)

Bill Hall

Clint Barmes

Chris Johnson

Matt Downs

Tommy Manzella

Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.

OUTFIELDERS (5)

Carlos Lee

Michael Bourn (L)

Hunter Pence

Jason Michaels

Brian Bogusevic (L)

Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Brett Myers

Wandy Rodriguez (L)

J.A. Happ (L)

Bud Norris

Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)

Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)

Brandon Lyon

Wilton Lopez

Fernando Abad (L)

Jeff Fulchino

Nelson Figueroa

Mark Melancon

Henry Villar

Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.

Game 9: Teachable moments in loss to Yanks

On a day when the wind was blowing out at Osceola County Stadium, the Astros and Yankees combined for 18 runs and 38 hits. The Yankees did most of the damage, banging 21 hits – including home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Greg Golson – to beat the Astros and drop their Grapefruit League record to 2-7.

Befroe we get to the breakdown, click here for all the notes of the day, including some praise for Jordan Lyles, Michael Bourn talking about his spring base-stealing technique, an update on when some roster cuts might come, Brett Myers dissecting his outing and even a mention of a Hollywood actress who came to see the Astros on Sunday.

What went right: The Astros had 10 extra-base hits, including home runs by Jason Michaels and Carlos Lee, and had a spring-high 17 hits.

“The main thing is that I’m feeling pretty good at the plate, seeing the ball real good and taking good swings and good at-bats,” Lee said. “That’s a good start to be building on. We’ve got three more weeks to go. It felt pretty good to hit one out this early. That means you can only improve from that and expect to put last year away.”

Much of the damage was done by players who likely won’t make the Opening Day roster: Catcher Carlos Corporan and first baseman Brian Dopirak was 2-for-3 , and J.D. Martinez  and Anderson Hernandez were both 2-for-2. Matt Downs continued his good spring, going 2-for-4 with a triple and double.

Jason Bourgeois, playing center field, smoked the ball three times and had one hit to show for it.

“I took my last at-bat yesterday against the Cardinals sand I thought about it and felt good about it,” Bourgeois said. “I had a simple base hit back up the middle, but I really found my rhythm and timing, and it’s starting to come together.”

Brett Myers, mixing in the curveball for the first time this spring, allowed five hits and two runs in three innings and continues to proceed accordingly. Brandon Lyon, who had a rough outing last time out, pitched a scoreless inning, which was a rarity. The only other Astros pitcher to throw a scoreless inning was Fernando Rodriguez.

What went wrong: It was a bad day to be on the mound for the Astros, who gave up 21 hits. Not only was the wind blowing out and the infield was harder than normal because the tarp was on the field during morning rain, but the Yankees were aggressive and continually made solid contact.

Jeff Fulchino, who looked terrific in striking out Derek Jeter in the fifth, later gave up four hits in the inning, including a long home run to Alex Rodriguez. Fulchino, Fernando Abad and Gustavo Chacin each gave up four hits and two runs in one inning of work. Wesley Wright took the loss allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) in his one inning of work.

Jimmy Paredes, who entered the game as a defensive replacement to face his former organization, committed his third error of the year has looked very raw this spring. The Astros acquired him from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.

What they said: “This was definitely a Spring Training game. Not only did you see balls bounce through with the rain and having the tarp on the field, but the grounds crew does the best it can with the rain but the wind dries it out. Balls were going through and it was quite a day to work on our cut-offs and relays and everything else. A lot of teaching things, a lot of learning experiences.” – manager Brad Mills said.

What’s next: Left-hander J.A. Happ makes his second Grapefruit League start for the Astros when the travel to Viera, Fla., to face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Monday. Bud Norris, a starter, will piggyback Happ and throw three innings. Patrick Urckfitz, Jorge De Leon and Jose Valdez are also scheduled to pitch.

Injury update: Not much new to report. Jason Michaels’ sore arm doesn’t seem to be bothering him at the plate and he could be in the outfield on Tuesday, and Wilton Lopez was sent home because he was sick.

Now to the pictures:

 

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Above: Astros players, coaches and staff pose for a picture Sunday morning. The man without a uniform in the middle is owner Drayton McLane, whose grandkids threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the Yankees.

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Above: Astros manager Brad Mills and owner Drayton McLane pose for a picture.

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Above: Some Astros pitchers and catchers stand on the mounds and talk strategy before throwing/catching their bullpens.

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Above: Third baseman Chris Johnson shows good form while trying to field a grounder.

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Above: Tony De Francesco, the new manager at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hits some ground balls during drills on Sunday morning.

Let the games begin, Astros

The Astros will kick off their Grapefruit League campaign at 12 p.m. CT Monday with a game against the Atlanta Braves at Disney World. It’s the first of 37 games for Houston this spring – including six split-squad games – in preparation for the April 1 season opener at Philadelphia.

“You can go through as much drills as you want, but until you’re really putting another team across the field, you’re never really [sure what you're seeing],” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “We can go through these fundamentals, but they know where we’re going to hit the fungo or know what’s happening. Now the evaluating process ramps up a little bit.”

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup for the game:
CF Michael Bourn
1B Brett Wallace
RF Hunter Pence
LF Carlos Lee
DH Jason Michaels
3B Chris Johnson
C Jason Castro
2B Matt Downs
SS Tommy Manzella

————–
LHP Wandy Rodriguez will start on the mound. Also scheduled to pitch are Henry Villar, Enerio Del Rosario, Fernando Rodriguez, Lance Pendleton, Sergio Escalona and Wesley Wright.

On Sunday, the Astros played an intrasquad game with Koby Clemens going 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs to lead Dave Clark’s team to a 5-1 win over Bobby Meacham’s team. J.B. Shuck went 3-for-3 with a triple for Meacham’s squad.

Here are the stats from the game in which each pitcher threw an inning — Clarkie’s Crushers: RHP Jordan Lyles (K); RHP Jose Valdez (H, K); LHP Patrick Urckfitz (H,1R/0ER); RHP Nelson Figueroa (H); RHP Arcenio Leon (H, 2BB); RHP Ross Wolf; OF Brian Bogusevic (2×3, R); OF T.J. Steele (0x4, RBI); IF Anderson Hernandez (1×2); IF Tommy Manzella (1×3, R); C Carlos Corporan (2×3, RBI, R); OF J.D. Martinez (1×2, BB, R); IF Koby Clemens (3×3, HR, 2RBI, R); IF Jose Carlos Thompson (0x1, 2BB); IF Jay Austin (3×3); Meach’s Mashers: LHP Fernando Abad (2H, K); RHP Sergio De Leon (2H, 2R/2ER, BB); RHP David Carpenter (3H, 3R/3ER, BB, K); RHP Casey Fien (H); LHP Douglas Arguello (2H, K); RHP Cesar Carrillo (H, BB, K); C J.R. Towles (0x3); IF Brian Dopirak (0x3); IF Jimmy Paredes (0x2, BB); OF J.B. Shuck (3×3, 3B); OF Drew Locke (0x3, R); C Brian Esposito (0x2, RBI); IF Jiovanni Mier (0x1, BB); OF Jon Gaston (0x3); IF Oswaldo Navarro (0x2).

Defensively, Anderson Hernandez made a terrific diving stop behind third and was able to throw out catcher Brian Esposito, and Tommy Manzella had a nice game at third base. Also, shortstop Jiovanni Mier was able to complete a double play after second baseman Jimmy Paredes fumbled a ground ball. Carlos Corporan threw out a runner at second base trying to steal.

Here is the day in pictures:

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Above: Outfielder Brian Bogusevic warms up in the outfield.

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Above: The Astros practiced relays and cut-offs on Sunday morning, using players from Minor League mini camp as base runners. Third baseman Chris Johnson is taking a throw as prospect Telvin Nash runs the bases.

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Above: Left-hander Gustavo Chacin gets his work done in the bullpen.

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Above: Manager Brad Mills takes notes during Sunday’s intrasquad game.

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Above: Jordan Lyles throws a pitch in the intrasquad game. He threw a scoreless inning.

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Above: Outfielder J.D. Martinez stands in the batter’s box.

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Above: Former first-round pick Jiovanni Mier swings at a pitch.

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Above: J.B. Shuck gets ready to rip one of his three hits in Sunday’s intrasquad game.

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Above: Cesar Carrillo, a former first-round pick of Padres, prepares to fire a pitch Sunday.

Lineup set for spring opener

Astros manager Brad Mills has set his lineup for the Grapefruit League opener Monday against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. As is the case with most road games in Spring Training, several players will be staying behind to get their work in at camp.

Clint Barmes, Bill Hall, Humberto Quintero and Brian Bogusevic are among those not traveling with the team to Disney on Monday, but the Astros are at home Tuesday at Osceola County Stadium. That’s when we should get our first glimpse of the lineup with all the players available.

Here is the lineup for Monday’s exhibition opener against Atlanta:

CF Michael Bourn

1B Brett Wallace

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

DH Jason Michaels

3B Chris Johnson

C Jason Castro

2B Matt Downs

SS Tommy Manzella

Wandy Rodriguez will and pitch two scheduled innings.

Astros full squad hits the field

The clubhouse was buzzing and full of excitement this morning as 62 players – everyone except veteran infielder Bill Hall – dressed and took the field for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

The players took physicals in the morning and then heard from owner Drayton McLane, general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills in a quick team meeting.

“I talked to them about the opportunity we have here,” McLane said.

Wade reminded the players they have a veteran core nucleus who know what they’re responsibilities are from the standpoint of leadership, but he also told the many young players on the roster they also carry some responsibilities.

“The young guys don’t have to act like young guys,” Wade said. “They can step up and hold themselves and their teammates accountable and hold that measure of trust between themselves and their teammates and the staff and believe in themselves.”

Hall, who signed with the Astros in December, isn’t expected to be with the club until Wednesday following the birth of his child. Among the players who arrived for the first time in camp were Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn.

“It’s time to get going,” Mills said. “It’s really kind of hard to ease into those types of things because we start playing games in a week. Most of the guys are ready to go, they’ve at least been playing catch. We’re going to introduce a lot of the things and they’ll get it done. We’ll be fine.”

Here are some early-morning pictures of the players getting ready for the first full-squad workout:
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Above: Clint Barmes, Hunter Pence and Brett Wallace emerge from the clubhouse for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

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Above: Jason Michaels hits the field for the first full-squad workout of Spring Training.

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Above: Carlos Lee prepares to take the field for the first workout.

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Above: Brad Mills speaks briefly to the team before beginning early-morning stretch.

Young players hold key for Astros

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.

 

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