Results tagged ‘ defense ’

Porter not happy following defensive drills

The Astros had to alter their schedule Saturday because of early-morning rain showers, with the pitchers throwing live batting practice first to make sure they got their work in before more rain fell. As far as the position players are concerned, they took batting practice and then worked in a large group focusing on defensive drills.

“We had some weather early on, so we wanted to make sure our pitchers that were scheduled to throw live, we wanted to keep them on schedule,” manager Bo Porter said. “We were able to get that in, and it turned into a defensive day from that point on.”

Porter said the defense needs improvement, which meant the players weren’t able to give each other the post-workout “Astros win!” handshake.

“We didn’t execute, and that’s why we actually turning into a day of execution from the defensive side of it,” Porter said. “We all understand the game of baseball. It’s about runs being scored, and I’m a firm believer that the best offense is a good defense. We have to defend the baseball.”

That’s more about just making the throws or fielding cleanly, Porter said.

“We’ve explained this to our guys, from a defensive standpoint it’s not just the physical aspect of making the plays,” he said. “There are a lot of mental things that go into positioning, situations, understanding what to do, what not to do, given the situation. We’re going to put our guys in as many of those situations as possible throughout the course of the spring to try to emphasize the importance of these decisions based on situations.”

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Jason Castro gears up

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Paul Clemens throws

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Pitching coach Brent Strom shows pleasure with Clemens

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Adron Chambers holds court

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Jason Castro takes batting practice

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Marwin Gonzalez watches play unfold

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Players watch workouts from dugout

Game 11: Porter unhappy after loss to the Tigers

What happened: The Astros played their poorest game of the spring, striking out 15 times, issuing nine walks and committing a pair of fielding errors in an 8-5 loss to the Tigers on Monday afternoon (boxscore).

What we learned: Being able to throw hard is great, but control remains the key Astros prospect Jarred Cosart made his first spring start and struggled with his control, allowing four hits, three runs and four walks. He threw only 23 of his 48 pitches for strikes and admitted he was working too fast.

“I wanted to establish the fastball early and they had the scouting reports that I’m a fastball guy and they were attacking from the start of the game,” Cosart said. “I was up in the zone and you just can’t do that with Major League hitters. You have to put them away when you get ahead.”

What we learned II: CF Justin Maxwell has some serious raw power. Well, we actually already knew this based on his several tape-measure shots from a year ago, but his first home run of the spring — a mammoth two-run blast to left field — in the sixth inning was admired by all.

“I don’t try to hit home runs, especially in Spring Training,” Maxwell said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and just trying to find my swing right now and get better timing. … That’s just the thing. Any time I’ve tried to hit a homer I foul it off or don’t make contact, so depending on the game situation I try to hit the ball hard. If I barrel it, I have a good chance to have a positive result.”

What else: RHP Alex White also struggled with his control, allowing four hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. … Tigers reliever Al Albuquerque struck out Chris Carter, George Springer and Nate Freiman in succession in the eighth inning. … RHPs Josh Zeid and Josh Fields each threw a scoreless innings, and LHP Kevin Chapman threw 1 1/3 scoreless with two strikeouts.

What went wrong: Plenty. Let’s start with the on the mound, where Astros pitchers labored most of the game and wound up walking nine batters. Houston hurlers threw only seven first-pitch strikes and worked repeatedly into deep counts. Astros manager Bo Porter said the issue would be addressed, but the thing that really had Porter fired up was the defense. A fielding error by Jonathan Villar at short didn’t hurt the club, but Jake Elmore‘s fielding error at second allowed an unearned run to score.

The Astros have committed 15 errors in 11 games.

“We’ve got to catch the ball,” Porter said. “We’ve come back from every deficit we’ve had this entire spring. Offensively, we’re scoring runs, but at the same time we’ve got to make it a little bit easier on our pitching staff to catch the ball when it’s hit to us, and our pitchers got to do a better job of pitching ahead in the count and limiting some of those deep counts.”

What they said: “This is the thing: either you make the plays or we’re going to find someone else who’s going to make them. That’s not hard to figure out,” — Astros manager Bo Porter on the team’s defense.

What’s next: Porter, who spent the previous two years as third base coach of the Nationals, returns to Viera, Fla., on Tuesday when the Astros play the Washington Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT at Space Coast Stadium. RHP Lucas Harrell, the team’s Pitcher of the Year in 2012, will be making this third start and should be able to be stretched to four innings.

Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (ankle) is scheduled to make his first appearance in a spring game Tuesday. … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out six to eight weeks.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day: All kinds of good stuff in the Astros notebook: More on the meeting between George Springer and Torii Hunter, when the first round of roster cuts could happen, Mike Foltynewicz’s thoughts on the upcoming season and Tony DeFrancesco enjoying role with club after managing final 41 games last year.

The day in photos (light day today):

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Rick Ankiel, Trevor Crowe and Matt Dominguez

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John Mallee and Carlos Pena

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Astros catchers past and present: Jason Castro and Alan Ashby

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