Results tagged ‘ Jason Bourgeois ’

Astros send Quintero, Bourgeois to Royals

The Astros have traded catcher Humberto Quintero and center fielder Jason Bourgeois to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Minor League lefthander Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later.

Both players hugged teammates and said their goodbyes as they left the facility following Tuesday’s game. Bourgeois was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Cardinals but was scratched just before first pitch. Quintero was supposed to play in the second half of the game, but he wound up not playing.

“It was a great opportunity to get my first full season in and now somebody wants me,” Bourgeois said. “I’ll always have place in my heart for Houston. I grew up there, so I think that says a lot.”

The 24-year-old Chapman, who was selected by KC in the fourth round of the 2010 June Draft out of the University of Florida, was one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Texas League while at Northwest Arkansas in 2011. In 25 relief appearances, he tallied 50 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings pitched while totaling three saves.

Chapman began the 2011 season at Class A Wilmington where he struck out 40 batters in just 22 1/3 innings in 15 appearances with seven saves. His combined stats for 2011 were a 1-4 mark with a 4.94 ERA in 40 appearances with 10 saves and 90 strikeouts in 62 innings.

“Jason and Humberto were a big part of this team last year and both will be missed,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “They are quality players and well-liked in Houston.  This deal gives us an opportunity to add prospect depth and we are excited about both players coming our way.”

 Bourgeois, a 30-year-old Houston native, appeared in 93 games last year for the Astros, hitting .294 with 16 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. He was considered one of the favorites for the backup outfielder role, but the Astros added depth in that department in the offseason by bringing in Travis Buck, Jack Cust and Fernando Martinez, among others.

“It’s bittersweet,” Bourgeois said. “You always want to have a uniform on. I’m going to another organization and I’m glad somebody wants me.”

Bourgeois is a career .262 hitter with 46 stolen bases in 192 career Major League games with the White Sox and Astros, who claimed him off waivers in 2009.

Quintero, 32, is a hard-nosed backup catcher who has been with the club since 2005, the second-longest tenure on the team outside of Wandy Rodriguez. The strong-armed Quintero has spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues and last year started 73 games at catcher when Jason Castro was lost for the season.

“I got my house and everything in Houston and I’m going to miss everybody here,” Quintero said. “Baseball is baseball and I’m going to go someplace else I get more opportunity to play.”

With Castro missing all of last year following knee surgery and undergoing foot surgery in December, the Astros signed Chris Snyder off the free agent market to add some depth at catcher. Castro is completely healthy

Quintero was bothered by a bulging disk in his back early in the spring, but the Royals had been scouting him for days as they search for a replacement for the injured Sal Perez. Quintero is a career .234 hitter with 15 homers and 94 RBIs in 379 career games.

Morning update from Kissimmee

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.

Astros lineup:

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

Mills sporting a black eye and a new watch

The Astros worked out on the stadium field at the Osceola County Stadium complex for the first time Friday morning in anticipation of Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals.

Before the players began to stretch, manager Brad Mills addressed the team and lauded non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes for presenting him earlier in the morning with a Transformers watch. Mills’ watch was shattered and he suffered a black eye Wednesday when a ball came through the netting behind the cage and struck him.

“That’s pretty good for a young kid to do that,” Mills said. “I told the guys if we screw up on the time today, it’s Brandon’s fault, because of the Transformers watch.”

Here’s the latest on the Astros:

  • LHP Sergio Escalona, who injured his throwing elbow swinging a bat last week, will be shut down for a few days, Mills said. Escalona had an MRI on Thursday, which showed no structural damage.
  • Mills announced the next two starters in his rotation following Livan Hernandez (Saturday), J.A. Happ (Sunday) and Jordan Lyles (Monday).  Wandy Rodriguez will start Tuesday against the Mets, and Bud Norris will start Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater.
  • Among the relievers scheduled to pitch behind Hernandez on Saturday are Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon, who will be pitching in a game for the first time since May. Myers will throw one inning in his debut as Astros closer (he won’t pitch the ninth, however).
  • The batting order has yet to be announced, but Mills revealed his starters for Saturday’s game against the Nats: Chris Johnson (third base), Jed Lowrie (shortstop), Jose Altuve (second base), Carlos Lee (first base), J.B. Shuck (left field), Jason Bourgeois (center field), Travis Buck (right field), Castro (catcher) and Jack Cust (DH).
  • Third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who’s nursing a sore left wrist, took batting practice left-handed Thursday, but is still not cleared to swing right from the right side of the plate.
  • Castro, who missed all of last year following knee surgery and then had foot surgery in December, will catch only three innings Saturday. Mills said he’d like Castro to catch three more innings Monday and then perhaps four on Wednesday, depending on how he feels.

Players gather to stretch on the stadium field for the first time

Pence reacts to being honored in Houston

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.

 

Schafer’s return clogs center field picture

Jordan Schafer, the lone Major League player the Astros got in last month’s trades with the Giants, Phillies and Braves (pitcher Henry Sosa has since made his Major League debut) will be activated from the disabled list today and will likely in the starting lineup for his Astros debut when the Astros open a three-game series at Colorado tonight.

Schafer injured his finger sliding into a base on July 20, while he was still with the Braves, and went 10-for-20 in five games during his Minor League rehab at Oklahoma City. Once the top prospect in the Braves system, Schafer has a career .223 average in 577 Major League at-bats. He doesn’t have much power (three home runs), but he certainly can run and cover ground in center field. He has 17 steals in 102 games.

The debut of Schafer probably means less playing time for Jason Bourgeois, who had a terrific first half when he was healthy. Bourgeois took over in center when Michael Bourn was sent to the Braves on July 31 and he’s batting .155 (9-for-58) in 16 games since. He stole two bases on the day Bourn was traded, but hasn’t had a stolen base in August.

If Bourgeois had been posting the kinds of numbers he did in the first half, manager Brad Mills would have a tough decision. Perhaps Bourgeois is better fitted for a reserve role, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Having Bourgeois available to pinch run late in a game will be a huge weapon. J.B. Shuck has also seen time in center recently, but he’ll likely split time in right field with Jason Michaels (against left-handers) and Brian Bogusevic (against right-handers).

Needless to say, the Astros are eager to see what Schafer can do.

Bourgeois can’t catch a break

Jason Bourgeois has been one of the few bright spots for the Astros this season, hitting .353 in 102 at-bats with 17 stolen bases, which ranks among the league’s leaders. The problem for Bourgeois has been staying healthy.

The Astros placed the fleet-footed outfielder on the 15-day disabled list following Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers with a strained right quadriceps muscle, the same injury that has been nagging him the past few days. Bourgeois missed 25 games on the DL from May 8-June 3 with a strained left oblique, and he later dealt with a sore ankle that required him to get an MRI.

His first injury occurred just as he was beginning to get more playing time, as well as climbing to the top of the league in stolen bases where he was tied with teammate Michael Bourn for a time. Bourgeois didn’t figure to make his way into the team’s starting outfield rotation, but he definitely warranted more playing time. That’s a moot point if he can’t stay healthy.

“I was running at about 85-90 percent to get by until it starts healing up, but today it grabbed at me pretty good,” Bourgeois said. “My game is my legs, so I need them. It’s kind of hurting me right now.”

Bogusevic is hitting .257 with three homers and 27 RBIs for Oklahoma City. He hit .222 (6-for-27) in a stint with the Astros earlier this year.

In other injury news, catcher Humberto Quintero — out since May 28 with a high ankle sprain — will begin an eight-game Minor League rehab stint on July 1 at Oklahoma City. If all goes well, he’ll return to the Major League club following the All-Star break.

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.”

Bourgeois or Shuck will grab final outfield spot

Unless the Astros acquire another outfielder in the next week, Jason Bourgeois or J.B. Shuck will begin the season as the fifth outfielder. Bourgeois served in that role for a time last year, and even started 11 games in center field at the end of the season when Michael Bourn went on the disabled list.

The two have emerged as the only candidates to win the final outfield spot after Brian Bogusevic was optioned to Minor League camp on Thursday. Bourgeois has certainly had a strong camp, entering Thursday hitting .314 with four stolen bases. The fact Bogusevic swings the bat from the left side was a bonus for him, but Bourgeois’ good spring couldn’t be ignored.

Shuck is somewhat of a surprise to still be at camp. A non-roster invitee, he’s a career .303 average in the Minor Leagues, but he’s only played 36 games above Double-A. He bats left-handed and can play all three outfield positions.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said the role of a bench player, such as what Bogusevic was going to be asked to play, is difficult for a young player.

“The bat-off-the-bench role is tough for a young guy to roll himself into,” Wade said. “They’re used to get 375, 400 at-bats at the Minor League level and maybe get called up and still be sharp and game ready. It becomes much more difficult when you get four or five at-bats a week at the big league level and understand what the level of preparation is associated with that.

“We’re fortunate here that we have a guy like Jason Michaels who’s done it and can help mentor younger players, if we have a young guy filling that role. We recognize it’s a tough one to fill, and we felt the right thing for us right now was to let Bogie go play and figure that one out down the road.”

When asked about Shuck in that role, Wade said: “It’s held against the same backdrop. That’s a tough job. J.B. makes a really good contact, he can bunt, he’s an above-average runner and can play all three defensive positions. He’s still in the mix.”

The decision to send Manzella to the Minors was somewhat surprising, considering he was hitting .278 this spring and is a polished defensive player. What probably worked against Manzella — last year’s Opening Day shortstop — was his lack of experience at third base and second base. 

His departure leaves four infielders — Matt Downs, Anderson Hernandez, Angel Sanchez and Oswaldo Navarro — battling for two spots. Downs might have the upper hand because he can play anywhere and has swung the bat well, but Hernandez can also be moved all over the diamond and is a switch-hitter. Sanchez is out of options and performed well last year with the Astros.

“We’ve got things to figure out,” Wade said. “One would say your big decisions are made. You’ve decided who your fifth starter is, you’ve decided who your closer it, you’ve decided this, that and the other thing. The fact of the matter is we recognize the importance of the composition of the bench and what opportunities it provides for [manager Brad Mills].

“In call candor, we’re going to be guided by what Millsie feels is appropriate with the composition of the bench because he’s the one that will look down there and make sure that,, as best we can, we’ve provided him the pieces to make effective moves late in the game.”

Astros position breakdown: outfield

OUTFIELD

2010 Opening Day starters: LF Carlos Lee, CF Michael Bourn, RF Hunter Pence.

2010 end-of-season starters: LF Carlos Lee, CF Michael Bourn, RF Hunter Pence.

Others who were in the mix: Brian Bogusevic (LF-CF-RF), Jason Bourgeois (LF-CF-RF), Jason Michaels (LF-CF-RF, Cory Sullivan (LF-RF-CF).

Combined 2010 stats of Astros outfielders: .261 BA/.317 OBP/.401 SLG, 93 doubles, 51 homers, 217 RBIs, 156 walks, 316 strikeouts, 1,917 at-bats.

Free agents: None.

Arbitration eligible: Bourn and Pence.

What happened: The Astros went into last season feeling good about what they had in the outfield with Carlos Lee returning in left, Michael Bourn returning in center and Hunter Pence returning in right. Lee had averaged 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first three seasons with Houston, Bourn was named the team’s MVP in 2009 and won a Gold Glove and Pence was coming off his first All-Star appearance. The three held down the starting duties, but not without some road bumps.

Lee, who started 133 games in left field, struggled out of the gate and hit .183 in April with no home runs. He had only five homers at the end of May and wound up hitting .240 in the first half with 12 homer and 45 RBIs, helping put the Astros in a hole. He came around in the second half with a .254 average to go along with 12 homers and 44 RBIs to finish with 24 homers and 89 RBIs, his lowest totals with Houston. He split time before left field and first base in September as the Astros wanted to get a look at him at first defensively.

Bourn, who started 133 games in center, picked up where he left off in 2009 and got off to a quick start, hitting .311 in April. His average slowly began dipping as the season wore on. He hit .245 in May, .252 in June and .185 in July with an on-base percentage of .271. Bourn was enjoying a great finish – he hit .229 in his final 17 games – before his season ended two weeks early with an oblique strain. He hit .265/.341/.356 with 52 stolen bases and had another Gold Glove-caliber season in center field.

Pence, who started 155 games in right, joined Lee in getting off to a slow start. He hit around .230 with two homers and seven RBIs in April before coming around in May, batting .302 with six homers and 16 RBIs. After hitting .263 before the All-Star break, Pence hit .302 in the second half and finished with 25 homers for the third year in a row and 91 RBIs to lead the team. He was up and down defensively.

Jason Michaels, the fourth outfielder, had a solid year in a backup role and parlayed that into his option being picked up for 2011. He hit .253/.310/.468 with eight homers and 26 RBIs while playing all three outfield spots. He had two pinch-hit home runs. Jason Bourgeois, a speedster who doesn’t hit for a high average, got the bulk of the playing time in center in the final two weeks with Bourn on the shelf. The Astros got an abbreviated look at former No. 1 pick Brian Bogusevic, the pitcher-turned-outfielder who made his Major League debut. Cory Sullivan began the year as the fifth outfielder but was let go in the middle of the season.

What’s next: Lee, Bourn and Pence are all back in 2011, barring a trade. Lee will be in the fifth year of his six-year, $100-million contract (he has a limited no-trade clause this year) and Bourn and Pence are eligible for arbitration. But not all three could return as starters in the outfield. The Astros are going to give Lee another look at first base in Spring Training next year, with the hopes Brett Wallace – acquired in the Roy Oswalt trade – does enough to warrant winning the first base job and keeping Lee in left field.

If the Astros deem Wallace needs more time in the Minor Leagues, they will stick Lee at first base. That’s why they’re on the lookout this winter for a left-handed hitting left fielder they could use in a platoon situation with Michaels. The decision on which player opens at first base won’t unfold until later in Spring Training.

The Astros are banking on Bourn and Pence to pick up where they left off at the end of last year and have the best offensive seasons of their careers. Lee had a down season in 2010 and would certainly give the club a boost if he can return to his 2007-09 form as a reliable run producer. Bogusevic and Bourgeois will get a look as backup outfielders, but don’t be surprised to see a Minor League player make a push during the spring.

Who’s on the farm: The Astros are starting to see the fruits of their last several drafts pay off in the outfield, where an impressive group of young outfielders is emerging.  The club is high on Jack Shuck, who had a bang-up season for Double-A Corpus Christi before finishing the year at Triple-A Round Rock. T.J. Steele had turned some heads before injuries slowed him down last season, and players like Jon Gaston, Jay Austin and J.D. Martinez could be ready for the Majors soon. Martinez was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year after he hit .341 with 40 doubles, 18 homers and 89 RBIs combined between Class A Lexington and Double-A Corpus Christi, where he finished the season. He was named the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player and was a midseason and postseason All-Star.

Astros kids are alright

Don’t give up on the Astros just yet. No, I’m not predicting an unbelievable second-half surge that leads them into the playoffs, but this team is worth watching. Jason Castro is worth watching, and so are Chris Johnson and Jason Bourgeois.

The Astros are younger and more exciting than they were 10 days ago, thanks to the arrival of Castro, Johnson and Bourgeois, who were brought up when Kevin Cash, Casey Daigle and Cory Sullivan were designatd for assignment on June 23.

Johnson is hitting .414 in his seven starts since being recalled, including a pair of four-hit games. The Astros had no four-hit games before Johnson, and eventually Michael Bourn on Monday, did the trick. For the season, Johnson is batting .333 with eight RBIs in 51 at-bats and has pushed Feliz to the bench. Sure, he’s struggled on defense, but he should get better with experience.

Then there’s Castro, who has shown great patience in the plate and poise behind it in his Major League debut. He’s hitting .231 with one home run, but he’s handled the staff nicely — guiding Wandy Rodriguez to back-to-back wins — and has thrown out four of the seven runners who have tried to steal against him.

Bourgeois has bounced around between a couple of organziations, but perhaps he’s found a home in his native Houston. He’s hitting .312 in limited action, but he gives the Astros an exciting speedster off the bench.

There’s no doubt all three of these guys are going to go through growing pains, but the fact they’re here and getting the chance to show what they can do is enough reason to come to the ballpark.

“I love it,” Astros closer Matt Lindstrom said. “I think it’s what we need right now, a good balance of veterans and young guys who are hungry, that will push us a little bit. Obviously they’re very talented and we’re excited to have them contribute. Hopefully we can expect this [during] the next three months and see where we go.”

 

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