Results tagged ‘ J.D. Martinez ’
Outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment Monday, likely bringing an end to their tenure in Houston. The Astros also optioned infielder Brandon Laird to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe and infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes, as well was reinstating outfielder J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. </p>
Crowe, J.D. Martinez and Paredes will join the Astros before Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Ankiel has enough service time to refuse a Minor League assignment, at which point he would probably be released. The Astros have 10 days to decide what to do with Fernando Martinez, who will be released, traded or sent to the Minor Leagues if he passes through waivers.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow had high hopes for Ankiel, who he watched blossom into a potent outfielder while both were with the Cardinals. Ankiel hit just .194 in 25 games with five homers, 11 RBIs and a whopping 35 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.
“Rick Ankiel is a class guy, and I really like him both as a baseball player and as a person,” Luhnow said. “We brought him in here to help our younger kids, to mentor them and help out on the field. I really appreciate everything he did for us. The reality is the team is not where we wanted to be at this point and we feel like outfield is one of our weakest positions, and we wanted to give some guys who are having some success at Triple-A a chance to continue that up here.”
Luhnow met with manager Bo Porter on Monday at Minute Maid Park and went over the roster, and the general manager said the moves were made to fill some specific needs and not a shake-up of a club that’s lost 10 of 11 games and is 8-24.
“We sat down today and really talked about the mix of the team and what was available to us in Triple-A,” Luhnow said. “This is more of a testament about how Jimmy’s been doing in Triple-A, how Trevor’s been doing in Triple-A and wanting J.D. back. We weren’t making changes for the sake of making changes.”
Luhnow acknowledged the club also talked about the status of struggling starting pitcher Philip Humber, but Luhnow deferred to Porter.
Crowe is hitting .300 (33-for-110) in 29 games for Oklahoma City in 29 games this season, clubbing two homers and driving in 14 runs while stealing a team-high 11 bases. Crowe, a former first-round Draft pick by the Indians who’s appeared in 205 Major League games, was signed by the Astros this offseason as a Minor League free agent.
Paredes entered Monday hitting a team-high .376 (41-for-109) in 29 games for Oklahoma City, which ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League, with a 1.040 OPS. Paredes has started at third base and in right field this season for the RedHawks and remains raw on defense.
J.D. Martinez, out since April 20 with a right knee sprain, hit .300 in five games on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. He played in 14 games, including 12 starts, for the Astros before heading to the disabled list.
Fernando Martinez, who had trouble staying healthy, was hitting .182 with a homer and three RBIs in 11 games, while Laird was batting .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 11 games
Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was pulled from Monday’s game following his fourth inning at-bat by manager Bo Porter, was back in the lineup Tuesday against the Mariners, starting in right field. Martinez was pulled for what he deemed a “mental mistake,” and the outfielder said he and the manager had a good talk.
Martinez swung at the first pitch in his fourth inning at-bat and popped out, perhaps chasing a pitch out of the strike zone.
“Like I said yesterday to you guys, I understood the situation and we talked about it and put it behind us,” Martinez said. “We still have a lot more games left to play and it’s behind us and we’re ready to move forward. Today’s a new day.
“We settled it and [Porter] said, ‘You’re back in there today because it’s behind us. Time to move forward.’”
The Astros have lost six games in a row following an Opening Night win over the Rangers and are hitting .188 in that span. They’ve struck out 82 times in seven games, whiffing 13 or more five times a game.
“I feel like there’s a little bit of tension in the room,” Martinez said. “You want to win, you want everything perfect. I think it’s just go out there and play baseball, play for each other. They always say, ‘Play for the guy behind you,’ just going out there and enjoying it and having fun and getting the pressure and monkey off our backs.”
Martinez said one good game on offense could get the Astros rolling.
“Every game starts off great and then one things leads to another and then before you know it we have that pressure right back on us again,” he said. “Once we get that pressure off, we’re going to see this team start rolling because now everybody knows the guy behind you is going to pick you up. Now you don’t have that pressure on yourself. You can play and hit and do what you have to do.”
Astros manager Bo Porter pulled starting left-fielder J.D. Martinez in the middle of the fourth inning Monday night for what Martinez later admitted to be a mental mistake during his at-bat in the top of the inning, a pop out to second base.
Porter was asked following the Astros’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners if Martinez, who was hitting clean-up for the first time this year, had been injured, and he told reporters to ask Martinez what happened.
“That was a manager’s decision,” Porter said. “You go ask him why he didn’t finish the game. I’m actually interested in what he’s going to tell you.”
Martinez admitted to making a mistake during the at-bat, but wouldn’t go much beyond that. He swung at a first-pitch fastball from Joe Saunders and popped out after striking out looking in the first inning. Designated hitter Chris Carter swung at the first pitch the at-bat prior to Martinez, too.
“From a baseball standpoint, I made a mistake today,” Martinez said. “I had a mental error going up to the plate and was totally my fault. I understand everything what Bo did, taking me out and everything. I hold nothing against him in that sense because what I did was unacceptable and it was just a mental mistake that will never happen again.”
Martinez hinted went against the approach that was discussed at the hitter’s meeting prior to the game.
“It was just something going up to the plate, our plan and everything,” he said. “I got caught in the moment and really didn’t take a step back. The game was moving quick and I totally slipped, and I take full responsibility for it.”
Martinez has no problem with how Porter handled the situation.
“I completely get it,” he said. “I don’t want it to come off as me being selfish and not being about the team. That’s not what my intentions were. You just get caught up in the game sometimes and you want to go up there and you want to hit so bad and your plan sometimes just flies out the window.”
The Astros optioned left fielder J.D. Martinez, who leads the team with 54 RBIs, and infielder Matt Downs to Triple-A Oklahoma City following Thursday’s loss to the Nationals. Both had options remaining and will likely be back up at some point in September when rosters expand.
Earlier in the day, the Astros acquired infielder Tyler Greene from the Cardinals in exchange for a player to be named later or cash and will have him in uniform for Friday’s series-opener against the Brewers. The club will make another roster move to add a player prior to the game.
“I’m not going to look at it in a negative way,” Martinez said. “I’m not going to go down there and try to be bitter. I’m going to use it as a growing experience.”
Martinez admitted he’s lost some confidence.
“I felt like I started off good and went through kind of a struggle and hit a plateau and never got hot again,” he said. “The confidence was always there. It was never boosted back up again.”
Martinez is barely a year removed from making his Major League debut, which came last August after Hunter Pence was traded to the Phillies. He was called up from Double-A Corpus Christi, so he will be making his first appearance on a Triple-A roster when he joins the RedHawks.
He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Thursday, dropping his batting average to .235 with 11 homers. Martinez, who leads the team with 87 strikeouts, had been hitting just .218 since April 22, including a 6-for-54 stretch April 22-May 13.
“He’s in a situation where he’s going through a little funk and because he has that option left, it’s better if he got out of that funk the next couple of weeks in the Triple-A level instead of trying to work out of it here,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “That’s exactly what I told him, ‘You’re going to fight through this funk.’”
Martinez was disappointed in the move, but was focusing on positives.
“It’s obviously tough,” he said. “You never look forward to that, you never expect it. You have to take it positive and go down there and try to get my swing [right], the same swing that got me here, and I’m just going to keep moving forward and keep working hard to come back.”
Martinez simply hadn’t been squaring up balls like he did last season when he burst onto the scene and hit .274 with six homers and 35 RBIs in 53 games in his Major League debut. He had 28 RBIs last August, which were the most for any Astros rookie in any month.
“You talk to hitters and how hitters get hot is hit the ball on the barrel, and when you hit the ball on the barrel you get that feel again,” Martinez said. “I think that’s the biggest thing I feel that I lost a bit. It’s never easy up here in the first place with the guys pitching and having the stuff they have and you’re battling. It’s a little bit tougher to find that barrel, but it’s the big leagues and that’s why guys get paid a lot of money to play up here. It’s not that easy.”
Downs, meanwhile, was hitting .209 with seven homers and 13 RBIs in 154 at-bats, many of which had come off the bench. He was hitting .311 (14-for-45) in his last 21 games, but hadn’t been able to gain the consistency he had last year when he was arguably the best pinch-hitter in baseball.
When he wasn’t starting, Downs found himself in the unenviable position of pinch-hitting late in games, often against the other team’s closer.
“Here’s a guy that’s prepared so well for his role and done such a good job in facing some of the best pitchers he faces every night,” Mills said. “In the last three innings is usually when he gets his at-bats, and that’s tough. That’s not an easy assignment. Last year, he was exceptional at it and this year he hasn’t been quite as exceptional. But he’s been professional about it how he prepares.”
Here is Astros first baseman Carlos Lee and left fielder J.D. Martinez reacting to Wednesday’s win
Good morning from Kissimmee, where the Astros (4-2) play the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT today at Osceola County Stadium. This will be the first of two consecutive games against the Jays, with the Astros going to Dunedin, Fla., tomorrow.
Here’s what’s going on this morning.
– Astros manager Brad Mills pretty much has all his regulars in he starting lineup for the first time today, with Brian Bogusevic at designated hitter. No, the Astros aren’t prepping for the American League. They will use the DH in home games for about another 10 days or so before the pitchers begin to hit. Anyway, Mills is still tinkering with his lineup and said he’s trying to decide where to bat switch-hitting shortstop Jed Lowrie: “I’m trying to get a feel for him,” he said.
– Catcher Humberto Quintero, who had a cortisone injection into his back on Wednesday to help alleviate the pain from a bulging disk, said he feels great. The veteran said he will catch in the bullpen on Saturday and attempt to block balls and throw on Sunday. Look for Quintero to perhaps be ready to play on Monday.
– Infielder Angel Sanchez, who has also been dealing with back pain, is expected to play today, though he’s not in the lineup. Mills said the team doctors don’t want Sanchez riding the bus for four hours Saturday when the Astros travel to Dunedin, Fla., to play the Jays, so he plans to have him in the starting lineup Sunday at home against the Tigers. “We want the opportunity to get him at-bats and be seen and do the things he’s capable of doing,” Mills said.
CF Jordan Schafer
RF Jason Bourgeois
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
DH Brian Bogusevic
SS Jed Lowrie
C Jason Castro
3B Jimmy Paredes
2B Jose Altuve
LHP J.A. Happ
Chris Snyder, Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez each homered to send the Astros past the Nationals, 10-2, on Sunday afternoon in Viera, Fla. The Astros improved to 2-0. Click here for the boxscore.
Before we get to the breakdown, be sure to check out the feature story on George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr., which includes a video interview with Springer.
Here’s the breakdown:
WHAT WENT RIGHT: You have to start with offense. The Astros broke the game open with four runs in the third inning and five runs in the fourth inning to beat the Nats for the second day in a row despite being outhit (11-8).
Catcher Chris Snyder, making his first start, hit a long solo homer down the left-field line in the third off Nats starter Stephen Strasburg. Outfielder J.D. Martinez belted a three-run homer in the third, and designated hitter Fernando Martinez – claimed off waivers from the Mets in January – hit a three-run homer in the fourth to cap a 2-for-2 day with a walk.
Fernando Martinez is trying to make the roster as an outfielder, and he’s got a shot if he stays healthy considering he swings left-handed and has power. Chris Johnson, Scott Moore, Brian Bixler and Jordan Schafer also had hits Sunday.
“We had some good at-bats in key situations,” manager Brad Mills said. “Snyder’s home run, that ball was hit. The other two might have gotten a little extra help [from the wind]. Fernando Martinez’s home run would have been in the gap anyway and would have been a double. J.D. put a good swing on a ball that was in on him. Any time you get a three-run home run, that’s a huge boost.”
It was another good day on the mound for the Astros, who walked only two batters. Starter J.A. Happ allowed three hits and one run in two innings. He was up in the zone a bit in his second inning of work, but was able to get outs at key times.
Henry Sosa, who was also up in the zone in his the second inning, worked around four hits to throw two scoreless innings. Paul Clemens made his debut and pitched a scoreless frame. The Nats didn’t appear to be seeing the ball very well off of him. Lucas Harrell allowed three hits and a run in two innings and had good life on the baseball, though his command wasn’t there. Fernando Rodriguez looked really sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced, including Bryce Harper. David Carpenter finished it out, allowing one hit in one inning.
The Astros have yet to commit an error this spring.
WHAT WENT WRONG: For the second day in a row, there isn’t much negative to single out. The Astros did strike out 10 times and left 13 runners on base, but let’s not get nitpicky. They did draw seven walks, after all, and had a lot of base runners.
WHAT THEY SAID: “He’s got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him. Obviously, you hear about him, but it’s definitely live stuff. Him coming off Tommy John and day two of Spring Training games, he’s definitely got good stuff.” – catcher Chris Snyder on facing Stephen Strasburg.
WHAT’S NEXT: Jordan Lyles, who’s battling for a spot in the rotation, makes his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros when they face the Braves on Monday in Kissimmee. The game could also mark the spring debut of veteran slugger Carlos Lee, who sat out the first two games with a mild right hamstring strain.
INJURY UPDATE: Carlos Lee (mild right hamstring strain) is expected to be in the lineup Monday. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (right leg) is day-to-day. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (left wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) are taking batting practice against the coaching staff, but not ready to play.
Sorry, no pictures today. The Astros hit in the cages in Viera on a rainy Sunday morning, leaving me no opportunities to snap a few photos. Check back tomorrow.
Despite playing for the Phillies for the final two months of the regular season, right fielder Hunter Pence was still voted as the Astros’ Most Valuable Player for 2011 by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Pence, who was traded to the Phillies on July 29, hit .308 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs in 100 games for the Astros. It’s the second consecutive year Pence has been named the team’s MVP, but this one caught him off-guard.
“Yes, that surprises me,” he said Friday after the Phillies finished working out in preparation for their National League Division Series against the Cardinals.
“Honestly, I’m very honored and humbled that they would select me for that,” he said. “It’s tough to explain. I know there’s a lot of guys that played the whole season there that had good seasons. I don’t really know what to think about that other than it makes me feel better about my accomplishments there and they recognize how I played the game. That’s cool, I guess.”
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez was named the team’s Pitcher of the Year after going 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts. Outfielder J.D. Martinez was named Rookie of the Year and outfielder Jason Bourgeois was named the winner of the Darryl Kile “Good Guy” Award for his community efforts and good relationship with the media.
Also winning awards as voted on by the BBWAA were Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman (Houston area Player of the Year) and long-time Astros broadcaster Bill Brown (Fred Hartman Long & Meritorious Service). All award-winners will be recognized at the Houston Baseball Dinner in January.
With Kody Hinze on his way to Double-A later this week to play first base for the Hooks, those who are waiting for the next crop of young Astros prospects to reach the Major Leagues have to like what’s taking place at Corpus Christi.
Hinze, who is hitting .326 with 22 homers and 69 RBIs at Class A Lancaster, will join a promising infield at Corpus Christi: Jose Altuve at second base, Jimmy Paredes at third base and Jonathan Villar at shortstop. Altuve and Villar were promoted on June 1. Hinze is 23 years old.
“Kody’s obviously sung the bat very well in what we know is an offensive environment, but the thing that’s impressive about Kody is he leads the league in walks [70 walks, 73 strikeouts] and has a good on-base percentage,” Astros director of player development Fred Nelson said. “Some of the peripheral things in the offensive ranks are real high, and I think that equates to pitch select and command of strike zone and the ablity to take pitches an put the ball in play. He’s got the ability and tools to strive there [in Double-A].”
Altuve, who will represent the Astros at the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix next month, is hitting .371 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 30 games at Corpus Christi. Paredes is hitting .273 with six homers and 26 RBIs.
Catcher Chris Wallace was promoted to Double-A last month and is off to a quick start, hitting .313 with 2 homers and 10 RBIs in 10 games. Wallace and outfielder J.D. Martinez each hit a grand slam in Sunday’s 16-3 over Northwest Arkansas.
“We’ve had some kids that have gone from real nice offensive years and not duplicated them in Double-A out of Lancaster, but we just think [Hinze is] is one of those guys, along with Altuve and Villar, that should hold their own and make progress,” Nelson said.
Martinez, who appears to have worked his way back from a nagging hamstring injury, is hitting .331 with seven homers and 52 RBIs in 65 games and could be getting a call to Triple-A Oklahoma City later this year if he stays healthy.
There are some positive happens on the mound, too.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel threw his fifth consecutive quality start Sunday to improve to 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. He’s thrown seven innings each of his last five starts, going 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA. He leads the Texas League in ERA.
Left-hander Xavier Cedeno (4-5), who struck out 14 batters last Monday, was scheduled to start tonight’s game against Frisco.
By now you’ve probably heard Astros farmhands Telvin Nash, an outfielder, and Chris Wallace, a catcher, each homered three times in the same Sunday for Class A Lexington in n 18-9 win. The entire story, including player reaction, can be found by clicking here.
Both Nash, who was the designated hitter on Sunday, and Wallace went 5-for-6 with four runs scored. Wallace had a club-record nine RBIs, which was one shy of the South Atlantic League record of 10. Nash finished with four RBIs. Both players tallied 15 total bases in the game, which was also one shy of the SAL record of 16.
Nash and Wallace are the first set of teammates ever to hit three home runs in the same game in Lexington franchise history.
Here’s what else is going on around the minors:
OF J.D. Martinez, the Astros Minor League player of the Year in 2010, is hitting .368 in 10 games at Double-A Corpus Christi with two home runs, 16 RBIs, a .422 on-base pct. and a .658 slugging pct. His RBI total is tops in the Texas League. Last season, Martinez, 23, hit a combined .341 at Class A Lexington and Corpus Christi with 18 home runs and 89 RBIs. Martinez has a .344 career minor league average with 32 home runs and 161 RBIs (.405 OBP, .558 SLG) since being selected by the Astros in the 20th round of the 2009 June Draft.
At Triple -A Oklahoma City, OF J.B. Shuck is hitting .353 and OF Brian Bogusevic is batting .324 with a homer and six RBIs. … 1B Koby Clemens is hitting .346 in eight games with two home runs and nine RBIs. … SS Tommy Manzella is hitting .314 with a homer and eight RBIs.
At Double-A Corpus Christi, SS Wladimir Sutil leads the Texas League in hits (20), is second in batting (.455) and is fourth in on-base percentage (.510). … IF Jimmy Paredes (seven), OF T.J. Steele (six) and Sutil (five) are first, second and third in the Texas League in stolen bases.
At Class A Lancaster, 20-year-old IF Jose Altuve ranks seventh in the California League with a.390 average and is tied for first in the league in triples (two). … RHP Jake Buchanan (1-1) is seventh in the California League in ERA with a 1.20 mark after two starts, and 21-year-old RHP Jose Cisnero has the best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ration (17.47) in the Minor Leagues with 22 strikeouts in just 11 2/3 innings of work.
At Class A Lexington, 20-year-old SS Jiovanni Mier, the Astros’ first pick in the 2009 June Draft, is hitting .343 in 10 games with a .477 on-base pct. … 3B Michael Kvasnicka, 22, is hitting .353 in nine games at Lexington with seven RBIs. … Kvasnicka was selected by the Astros in the supplemental first round (No. 33 overall) of the 2010 June Draft. … RHP Tanner Bushue, 19, is 2-0 in two starts with a 2.57 ERA. He was selected in the second round fo the 2009 June Draft.