Results tagged ‘ Jason Castro ’

Why is Jose Altuve hitting cleanup?

As promised, Astros manager Bo Porter had catcher Jason Castro hitting third and second baseman Jose Altuve hitting fourth Wednesday against the Yankees. It was only the third time in Altuve’s career – the other two came in his rookie season in 2011 – he batted cleanup.

With Dexter Fowler entrenched the leadoff spot and Robbie Grossman batting second, Porter is flip-flopping Castro and Altuve based on matchups – Castro (left-handed bat) hitting third against right-handers, and Altuve (right-handed bat) hitting third against lefties.

“Obviously, Altuve and Castro are arguably our two best hitters, and having Fowler and Grossman at the top, those two guys are switch-hitters who can get on base,” Porter said. “When you hit Castro third and a right-hander is pitching, you’re basically making sure the left-hander gets the extra at-bat given the matchup scenario.

“When it’s a left-hander pitching, you put Altuve in the three-hole to make sure the right-hander gets the extra at-bat given the match-up scenario.”

The rest of the lineup will also depend on matchups for the most part, though third baseman Matt Dominguez has hit seventh and shortstop Jonathan Villar has batted ninth in each of the first two games. Designated hitter Chris Carter hit sixth against lefty CC Sabathia on Tuesday and fifth against a right-hander on Wednesday.

Grossman to bat second for Astros

The one certainty manager Bo Porter had entering Spring Training has changed, thanks to Robbie Grossman.

Porter, who proclaimed in the winter Dexter Fowler would hit leadoff, Jose Altuve would bat second and Jason Castro would hit third, said Wednesday that Grossman has played his way into the No. 2 spot in the order behind Fowler. Altuve and Castro could switch, depending on the opposing pitcher.

“That combination will be our top four,” Porter said.

Grossman, a switch-hitter, has been a high-on base player throughout his career (.381 in Minor League career) and last year posted a .332 on-base percentage in his Major League debut, including .351 after he was called up for his second stint.

“That thinking has changed a little bit just looking at Fowler and Grossman as two guys that get on base at a high percentage and again just trying to get as many guys on base in front of arguably our best two hitters, Jason and Altuve,” Porter said. “It’s about lineup construction and putting yourself in the best position to score runs given the opponent and the pitcher we’re facing that night.”

 

Day 10: Astros have a little fun with hitting drill

In an effort to ramp up the intensity while promoting some camaraderie, Astros position players ended their workout Tuesday with a hitting competition that pitted a team picked by Jason Castro against a team picked by Brett Wallace.

The teams took turns batting against a pitching machine while trying to execute in different situations – squeeze bunts, man on third and one out, etc. – with manager Bo Porter standing  behind a net and playing umpire, determining whether the batted ball would have done the job in real life.

Each team was awarded points for proper execution, and Wallace’s team won the competition on a walk-off homer run by catcher Rene Garcia.

“I thought it was great,” Porter said. “Those guys started ragging each other a little bit. It’s always good to add a little fun to Spring Training, but at the same time you keep it intense and competitive, and I felt the guys did a great job.”

The losing team had to pick up more than 500 baseballs that were scattered around the outfield and the bullpens, while the winning team headed to the clubhouse.

“We’ve been working on a lot of those situations,” Wallace said. “It’s been a big focus for us this whole camp for everybody. Not only was it like competing against yourself, the guys in your group, but you’re putting the whole team in a real competitive situations.

“It’s the closest we’re going to get to a game right now. Any time you’re out on the field in a separate dugout competing against each other, it’s going to make it more real.

Garcia proved to be an unlikely hero.

“He called it, too,” Wallace said. “After everybody went through [and hit], you could pick who you wanted to go up. I went a couple of times and some other guys went up, and Rene was like, ‘I got it, I want to go.’ He called it and requested it and went up there and delivered. It’s pretty neat he did that.”

Check out these links:

Feature story and video: J.D. Martinez has revamped his swing from head to toe…literally.

Asher Wojciechowski not rushing back from injury.

Hitting competition light-hearted fun for Astros.

Update on Jesse Crain status.

Altuve, Izturis and Corporan give advice to Latin players.

Scouting season is heating up, says scouting director Mike Elias.

Here is the day in pictures:

0225 002

Carlos Perez

0225 004

Lucas Harrell

0225 005

Nick Tropeano

0225 008

Josh Fields

0225 013

Jerome Williams

0225 014

Cesar Izturis and Jose Altuve

0225 016

Dallas Keuchel

0225 020

Cesar Izturis

0225 022

Field filled with balls awaiting loser of hitting drill

0225 027

Jonathan Singleton

0225 031

Bo Porter and staff and players watch hitting competition

0225 034

Carlos Correa holds a young fan

0225 033

Astros mob Rene Garcia after his walk-off homer

Castro says new rule won’t change much

Astros All-Star catcher Jason Castro said Monday he supported the rule released by Major League Baseball regarding home plate collisions that outlaws catchers blocking the plate without the ball and runners going out of their way to initiate contact with catchers. Details of the rule can be found here.

“It seems like the gist of it is outlawing the egregious contact, guys going out of their way to make contact with the catcher,” Castro said. “Obviously, that’s a good thing. I think those kinds of plays are definitely avoidable to keep guys playing on the field and keep guys healthy. In most cases, if guys typically have to go out of their way to make contact with the catcher, they probably would have been safe if they had they had just slid into home plate.

“Hopefully some of those things will come out of that and have a more safety aspect of it. From a catching standpoint, we have to make sure we’re allowing the runner a lane to the plate if we’re not in possession of the ball. But still, things like unavoidable contact or if the throw leads you into the runner, there’s nothing you can do about that. It’s pretty much straightforward — no egregious contact and you can’t block the plate without the ball.

“I think those are positive changes. I don’t think they’ll change the game, just some safety stuff that will keep guys on the field a lot more longer.”

In 2012, Castro missed a couple of games with a sore shoulder when Milwaukee’s Mat Gamel leveled him at the plate, a collision that would likely be outlawed now.

“You definitely have to make sure you’re allowing the runner a solid chance to score,” Castro said. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out. We’re going to have to talk about it as a catching group and sort of formulate a strategy. Not a whole lot is going to change, obviously. It’s nice to know that if you’re going to throw the ball, you don’t have worry there will be a big hit coming. That’s nice to have in the back of your mind. Otherwise, we’re going to operate as normal and not a whole lot will change.”

Castro signs with Astros, avoids arbitration

The Astros reached a one-year contract with All-Star catcher Jason Castro for 2014 to avoid arbitration. Terms of the deal aren’t known.

Friday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration numbers, and Castro’s signing means infielder Jesus Guzman is the only Houston arbitration-eligible player still unsigned. Negotiations can continue up until an arbitration hearing.

“I think it’s a good deal and I’m glad that we were able to come to an agreement, and now we can just kind of shift the focus to getting ready for the season and everything that I would normally do to prepare for spring,” Castro told MLB.com. “I’m excited and ready to get going.”

Castro, 26, was among the top offensive catchers in the Majors last season, hitting .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs before landing on the disabled list Sept. 13 after having a cyst removed from his knee. His on-base percentage was .350, with a slugging average of .485. He was named to the American League All-Star team and was a two-time AL Player of the Week Award winner.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said last year he was open to perhaps extending Castro beyond 2014, but that wasn’t discussed during this negotiation.

“We haven’t actually had any discussion about that,” Castro said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m definitely open to anything.”

The former Stanford star was picked 10th overall in the 2008 Draft, and made his big league debut with the Astros in 2010, appearing in 67 games. He missed all of the 2011 season after suffering a major knee injury during the spring of that year.

Astros manager Bo Porter said last month Castro would be his primary No. 3-hole hitter this year.

“Now the focus shifts back to getting ready and get throwing and getting back into catching and all that stuff,” Castro said. “I’m glad to get it all in the rearview and look ahead to spring.”

Astros don’t want to lose Draft picks

Not surprisingly, the Astros are not expected to make a run at any of the big-name free agents this winter. First, convincing someone to sign for five years to come to Houston might be a hard sell at this point in the team’s rebuilding process, but the Astros need to spread their available money around to three or four players than get one big-ticket guy.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was asked at the GM Meetings on Tuesday about the club’s plans for free agency. Astros owner Jim Crane told MLB.com last month the team would have a payroll of between $50-60 million next year.

“We definitely are going to think twice before making any big commitments that include losing a draft pick and/or committing a lot of dollars for a long period of time,” Luhnow said. “Having said that, we’re doing our own analysis on every free agent that’s out there. There is a price at which we’d be interested in almost all of them.

“Whether or not that’s the price that would transact, I don’t know. There’s some good players out there. Given the number of teams with needs, would we be likely to come away with one of the top guys? I can’t handicap that. I think it’s probably a long shot. But we’re going to sign some guys that are going to help our club.”

Castro drawing interest in trade market

The Astros are receiving “significant” interest in All-Star catcher Jason Castro, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Castro is coming off an All-Star season in which he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. He is eligible for arbitration.

While it’s true the Astros like catching prospect Max Stassi, whose Major League debut was hampered by a concussion suffered in his second career game in August, they remain relatively thin at the position. Plus, the Astros, coming off three consecutive 100-loss seasons, are at the point they need to start moving forward, which would mean hanging onto their young talent.

Castro, the former first-round pick, hit .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs before missing the final month of the season with a knee injury. The Astros have said previously this year they would be open to exploring a contract extension at some point with Castro.

At the GM Meetings in Orlando, the Astros’ Jeff Luhnow said:

“I’m not surprised that there would be interest in Jason. He’s clearly one of our most valuable players. I’m never going to say someone is untouchable. But we fully expect Jason to be on our club for a long time to come. He’s reaching his peak. He was our All-Star last year. He’s a team leader.

“He had a tremendous year. He’s an athletic catcher who can hit home runs and throw runners out. Those guys don’t exist very often, so I really don’t have a lot of interest in exploring that. Like I’ve always said, I’ll listen to anything if someone wants to talk to me.”

Castro undergoes minor knee procedure

Astros All-Star catcher Jason Castro underwent a minor surgical procedure Thursday in Houston to have a cyst removed from his right knee, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

Luhnow said he expects a quick recovery from Castro and that he’ll be 100 percent ready to do his post-season workouts.

The Astros announced Tuesday afternoon Castro was being placed on the 15-day disabled list due to discomfort in his right knee and will not appear in a game for the remainder of the season. He had played in only two games since aggravating his knee Sept. 2.

Castro had a cyst in his right knee drained Sept. 3, one day after fouling a ball off the knee, and started consecutive games at designated hitter on Sept. 6-7 in Oakland, going 0-for-9. He later admitted he came back too soon and hasn’t played since.

Castro missed the entire 2011 season after injuring his right knee in Spring Training of that year and having to undergo surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament. He played in 87 games last year, but was on the DL twice for fluid in the knee.

This year was a breakout season for Castro, a two-time American League Player of the Week and the first Astros player to represent the AL in the All-Star Game.  He hit .276 in 120 games with 35 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBIs with a .485 slugging percentage, setting career highs in every offensive category except triples.

Castro and backup Carlos Corporan were the only catchers on the roster for most of the season until a rash of injuries at the position. Corporan suffered a concussion on Aug. 19 and went on the disabled list. He was replaced by Minor League call-up Max Stassi, who himself suffered a concussion two days later in only his second game in the Major Leagues.

The Astros were forced to call up 11-year Minor League veteran Cody Clark and trade for Matt Pagnozzi to provide some depth at catcher. Corporan returned to action only recently, and Stassi is expected to join the team Monday in Arlington following a rehab stint during instructional league this weekend in Kissimmee, Fla.

Astros shut down Castro for final 12 games

The Astros announced Tuesday afternoon All-Star catcher Jason Castro was being placed on the 15-day disabled list due to discomfort in his right knee and will not appear in a game for the remainder of the season. He had played in only two games since aggravating his knee Sept. 2.

Castro had a cyst in his right knee drained Sept. 3, one day after fouling a ball off the knee, and started consecutive games at designated hitter on Sept. 6-7 in Oakland, going 0-for-9. He later admitted he came back too soon and hasn’t played since.

Castro missed the entire 2011 season after injuring his right knee in Spring Training of that year and having to undergo surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament. He played in 87 games last year, but was on the DL twice for fluid in the knee.

This year was a breakout season for Castro, a two-time American League Player of the Week and the first Astros player to represent the AL in the All-Star Game.  He hit .276 in 120 games with 35 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBIs with a .485 slugging percentage, setting career highs in every offensive category except triples.

Castro and backup Carlos Corporan were the only catchers on the roster for most of the season until a rash of injuries at the position. Corporan suffered a concussion on Aug. 19 and went on the disabled list. He was replaced by Minor League call-up Max Stassi, who himself suffered a concussion two days later in only his second game in the Major Leagues.

The Astros were forced to call up 11-year Minor League veteran Cody Clark and trade for Matt Pagnozzi to provide some depth at catcher. Corporan returned to action only recently, and Stassi is expected to join the team Monday in Arlington following a rehab stint during instructional league this weekend in Kissimmee, Fla.

Castro at least a few days away from action

All-Star catcher Jason Castro appears to be at least a few days away from returning to action after having a cyst in his right knee drained Tuesday. Castro left Monday’s game against the Twins with a sprained knee and hasn’t played since.

“It feels a lot better today,” Castro said Wednesday. “Once I start doing stuff…we’ll see how it feels and progress from there. It feels a lot better this morning as far as the soreness has gone down a lot. That was good to see waking up.”

Castro, who missed the entire 2011 season following surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, said he fouled a ball off his knee in the first inning Monday, which aggravated the cyst. When asked if he would be available to return this weekend in Oakland, Castro wasn’t sure.

“It really depends on how it feels once we get back into hitting and running and doing all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Squatting will be the next big test. I’m sure we’ll kind of progress and ease into it as far as not trying to push it too fast. If we don’t wait long enough for the thing to calm down and start doing stuff on it, it could have the chance to act up again. I’m feeling pretty good about it based on how it’s feeling this morning.”

Astros manager Bo Porter said Castro would likely be in the lineup at designated hitter before he gets behind the plate.

“We’re going to be very careful,” he said. “With the number of games we have left, it’s not worth risking this lingering into the offseason and now becoming an issue he has to deal with the whole offseason.”

Castro, a two-time American League Player of the Week, is having a career season, hitting .282 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. He’s the latest in a string of catching injuries for the Astros.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers