Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’

Pence likely out until Friday

Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who hasn’t played since Friday because of a sprained left elbow, likely won’t return to the lineup until Friday’s series opener against the Rays at Minute Maid Park.

Pence showed up at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday unable to swing a bat because of discomfort in the elbow. He said team doctors told him last weekend he would likely miss the Rangers series, and that will likely be the case.

“It’s just not ready to swing,” he said. “It’s close, very close, but I’m not ready. There’s really no way other to say I can’t really swing. Until I can, I don’t know how you can really play. I’m going to wait until it’s ready so I can play. I’m going to play hard and play good.”

With the Astros having a day off Thursday, manager Brad Mills said it would probably be best for Pence to be held out of the lineup until Friday. Pence leads the club in batting average, home runs and RBIs.

“Unless all of a sudden he shows up and he’s able to swing and everything’s fine,” Mills said. “I don’t see that happening after talking with him today and how sore he was today.”

The good news for Pence is doctors have told him he can’t do anymore damage to the elbow that he currently has. An MRI performed on Sunday showed no tears or ligament damage.

Pence expected to play Tuesday

Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who missed his third consecutive game Monday with a sprained left elbow, is expected to return to the lineup in Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.

Pence, who suffered the injury Friday in Los Angeles, felt so encouraged Monday that he was able to take some swings in the batting cage. He was able to straighten out his elbow Monday for the first time since suffering the injury trying to slide into first base.

“It feels good,” Pence said. “From where I was, the inflammation was in there and we detected what the problem was. It’s like a sprained ankle on the elbow. I know it’s feeling pretty good and I’m pretty optimistic about getting back soon.”

Pence, entered Monday tied for fourth in the NL with 51 RBIs, tied for second with 93 hits and ranked fourth with a .321 batting average. Astros manager Brad Mills said he expects Pence to be in the lineup Tuesday.

“He wants to play, he wants to get in there, and the doctors and trainers feel that one more day will be extremely beneficial for him,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do, is to get him one more day. Hopefully he can get in there tomorrow.”

Astros lineup for Thursday’s game

Here is manager Brad Mills’ lineup for Thursday game against Pirates:

CF Michael Bourn

2B Jeff Keppinger

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

3B Matt Downs

SS Angel Sanchez

C Carlos Corporan

RHP Jordan Lyles

Pence’s back keeps him out of lineup

Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who’s riding a 22-game hitting streak, was out of the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Braves and wasn’t expected to play. Pence has been dealing with lower back spasms.

Jason Bourgeois was originally going to get the start in right field, but he was scratched about an hour before the game with an ankle sprain. Jason Michaels started in his place.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Pence and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero came into his office following Saturday’s game and expressed concern over Pence’s back condition.

“Hunter doesn’t want to ask for a day off,” Mills said. “God bless him. That’s the way you want everybody to be. But throughout the conversation, he said it hurt him when he ran and felt like it was going to lock up on him.

“If it locks up on him when he tries to do something, it could really hurt something. With a day game following a night game, the chances of that happening go up. At the end of everything, we felt today would be a good day to take off.”

The Astros are in a stretch of 16 consecutive games without a day off, and Pence has started every game in right field.

“It only makes sense for him to take today off,” Mills said.

Pence, who’s hitting .391 during the streak, told reporters Sunday morning his back feels fine.

“They told me last night they wanted, with a day game after a night game, they wanted to give me a day rest and come back ready to go,” he said. “I felt good after the game, and that’s that.”

Mills said his goal is to try to not use Pence as a pinch-hitter, and not just because he has a 22-game hitting streak on the line.

“He needs today off,” Mills said. “If some unforeseen thing happens with someone getting hurt and he has to play and we got 15 innings and we have no one else, that’s something we have to weigh at that time.”

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.

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.

Game 29: Pence, Quintero lead 16-hit attack

With the wind blowing out at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., Wednesday’s game between the Astros and Pirates figured to be high scoring. It didn’t disappoint, either, with the Astros awaking from their offensive slumber to outslug the Pirates, winning 10-6.

Before we get to the recap, click here to read about which players are out of options for the Astros and how that might affect roster decisions. Click here to read about which two catchers appear to be the most likely to be on the Opening Day roster.

There were plenty of good things to happen for the Astros, so let’s get to the recap:

What went right: After behind held to six hits in their previous two games, the Astros bashed 16 hits against the Pirates. Hunter Pence led the way by going 3-for-3 with his first spring homer, raising his average to .385.

Pence doubled in the first and hit a long homer to left field in the third.

“Whenever the season starts, it would feel better if you do that,” Pence said.

Brian Bogusevic, battling for an outfield spot, came off the bench and went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and Jason Michaels was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI to raise his spring average to .413. Then there was Humberto Quintero, who not only picked off a pair of runners but was 3-for-3. He’s now hitting .452.

Brett Wallace drove in three runs, pushing his spring total to a team-leading 17 RBIs. He had sacrifice flies in the first and fifth innings and an RBI single in the ninth. Angel Sanchez went 1-for-3 in his return from a back injury and reported no problems, and Brian Esposito and Matt Downs each had a hit in their only at-bats.

The Astros also did a nice job in situations, going 4-for-5 in getting runners home from third base with less than two outs and 3-for-3 in moving runners over from second base. Starting pitcher J.A. Happ even but down a pair of sacrifice bunts.

Happ threw 100 pitches in six innings of work. The results weren’t great – nine hits, five earned runs and two walks allowed – but the pitching conditions weren’t the best. All in all, it was a good sign to see him throw so many pitches.

Enerio Del Rosario threw another scoreless inning, running his spring scoreless streak to 11 1/3 innings. Gustavo Chacin worked a scoreless ninth, and Wesley Wright didn’t allow a run in two-thirds of an inning, though he gave up one hit and one walk.

What went wrong: Not much, outside of the runs allowed by Happ. Chris Johnson had a tough day, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a fielding error. Still, he’s hitting .283 this spring. Jose Valdez gave up two hits and one run in one-third of an inning.

What they said: “I think I made adjustments after the first two innings. I was disappointed after that second inning. I kind of had a bad series of executions in a couple of hitters, situational-type things with the pitcher at the plate, guys on second and third. After that I think I kept ball down better than I did in the first two innings in the last four and tried to build off that.” – Astros starter J.A. Happ on his outing Wednesday.

What’s next: Right-hander Bud Norris, coming off his best start of the spring, makes his final Grapefruit League start of the spring when the Astros return to Osceola County Stadium to meet the Tampa Bay Rays at 12:05 p.m. CT on Thursday. Norris, who’s the No. 4 starter in the Astros’ rotation, threw five scoreless innings against the Cardinals on Saturday. Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Fernando Abad and Ross Wolf are also scheduled to pitch for the Astros.

Injury update: Right fielder Hunter Pence needed four stitches to close a gash on his right shin Wednesday, an injury that occurred while he was sliding into home plate in the fifth inning. He said he would be fine to play Thursday. … Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) returned to the lineup and went 1-for-3 and said his back feels great.

And, no, I don’t have any photos for the second day in a row. I left my camera in the press box when I went to the field, but rest assured I’m coming back strong tomorrow in Kissimmee. See you then.

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 11: Crisp win over Mets

The Astros split a pair of games Tuesday afternoon, beating the New York Mets, 5-4, in Kissimmee, and losing, 3-2 , to the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers.

The race for the fifth starter’s spot was front and center Tuesday afternoon, with three of the five candidates for the job – Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Lance Pendleton – all in action in two different games.

Figueroa started the split-squad game against the Mets, his former team, and gave up three hits and one run in one inning. He allowed the Mets to load the bases with one out in the first inning, but allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez started the Astros’ other split-squad game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers and gave up four hits and one walk in three scoreless innings. He was followed on the mound by Pendleton, who allowed two hits, two walks, one run and hit one batter in two innings.

Here’s the breakdown of the win over the Mets:

What went right: Plenty, beginning on the mound, where Figueroa, Mark Melancon, Wilton Lopez, Casey Fien and Sergio Escalona all pitched well.

The Astros banged out nine hits, including doubles by Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Clint Barmes and Oswaldo Navarro and a home run by J.R. Towles. It was Towles’ first home run of the spring.

“I just want to see the ball and put a good swing on it and I can’t do anything other than that,” said Towles, who went 1-for-3 to raise his average to .273. “That’s all I’m really looking to do.”

Barmes, having scrapped the leg kick he worked on all winter, went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .167, and Pence went 2-for-2 with a double and is hitting .524 this spring.

What went wrong: The only pitcher to get roughed up was Cesar Carrillo, who allowed two hits and two runs in one inning. Matt Downs and Brett Wallace, both of whom have had good springs, each went 0-for-3. The Astros were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

What they said: “When I first got to spring I was looking at some video and some pictures [of the 2007 and 2008 seasons], and my hands were lower than they had been [recently], so I just got my hands a little lower and am sitting back on that back leg a little bit and not going out to get it. I’m feeling good and seeing the ball well. I’ts working for me, so I don’t need to change anything right now.” – Astros catcher J.R. Towles.

What’s next: The Astros meet the Mets for the second day in a row, traveling to Port St. Lucie for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. CT game. Ryan Rowland-Smith, one of five men competing for the fifth starter’s job, will make his second start and his third outing of the spring. He allowed three runs in his first spring start Friday against the Cardinals. Jordan Lyles, also battling for the final spot in the rotation, will follow Rowland-Smith.

Injury update: Jason Michaels, who was originally in the lineup in the outfield against the Red Sox, was scratched because of back spasms. … Bud Norris, who strained his hamstring on Monday, said Tuesday he felt fine.

Now to the photos:

Spring 0308 002.jpg

Above: Catcher J.R. Towles cover the plate during some drills early Tuesday.

Spring 0308 009.jpg

Above: That’s Telvin Nash, a burly outfielder brought over from Minor League camp to play in Tuesday’s game, taking a swing during batting practice.

Spring 0308 010.jpg

Above: Carlos Lee practices tagging up from third base.

Spring 0308 013.jpg

Above: Ryan Rowland-Smith practices fielding a ground ball during drills. Bud Norris awaits the throw at third base.

Spring 0308 016.jpg

Above: Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton convinces Hall of Fame guy Clint Barmes to be his guest on Astroline on Wednesday night. He said yes.

Spring 0308 017.jpg

Above: That’s former Astros pitcher Tim Byrdak, now trying to win a job with the Mets.

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:

Spring Training 12 001.jpg 

Above: Outfielder Brian Bogusevic warms up in the outfield.

Spring Training 12 006.jpg

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.

Spring Training 12 012.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 013.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 018.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 020.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 031.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 032.jpg

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

Spring Training 12 033.jpg

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 73 other followers