Results tagged ‘ Jason Castro ’

Castro having healthy, productive spring for Astros

Astros catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season following ACL surgery on his right knee, caught all nine innings of Friday’s game against the Braves, marking the first time since his surgery a year ago he caught nine innings in a game.

Castro’s knee has felt great all spring, and it didn’t hurt that Friday was a night game and was played in two hours, 16 minutes. Still, after catching seven innings on Thursday, being able to come back and catch nine on Friday was a great sign.

“I didn’t know I was going to go nine and I talked to [manager Brad Mills] and he asked how I was feeling, and I said I was feeling good,” Castro said. “He said, ‘You can go ahead and have the whole thing.’ That was a fairly quick one and we had some easy innings, so that made it a little easier.”

Not only is Castro proving he’s healthy, but he’s playing well. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI single on Friday and is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with eight RBIs this spring.

“I put in a lot of work to get to where I’m at right now and I’m really happy with the way things have gone,” Castro said. “Hopefully I can just keep progressing and carry this into the season. I’m real happy with physically how I’m feeling and how my body is responding and recovering the day after catching. I’m really happy with that.”

 

Morning Astros update

As the Astros hit the field at rainy Osceola County Stadium, here’s a Sunday morning update from manager Brad Mills:

– Catcher Humberto Quintero (bulging disk) will catch in the bullpen Sunday for the second day in a row. Quintero caught Livan Hernandez‘s side session Saturday and felt some stiffness in his back, though it got better the longer he was out there. He will catch Sergio Escalona on Sunday and swing off a tee Monday.

– Catcher Chris Snyder is in the lineup catching consecutive games for the first time. Jason Castro will be behind the plate on Monday. Mills said the way the catching rotation was set up, Snyder was making most of the road trips and facing all the right-handed pitchers and Castro was staying in Kissimmee and facing all the left-handed pitchers. “That’s not quite how we wanted to work things out and we had to mix it up,” Mills said. “I don’t have any problem with Castro facing lefties, but we want to mix it up.”

– Left-hander Sergio Escalona (elbow) will throw his first bullpen session Sunday since being shut down for a few days with elbow problems. Escalona was very effective out of the bullpen last season for the Astros, so they would like the back issue to get resolved and get a good look at him.

– Non-roster outfielder Justin Ruggiano was back in the lineup Sunday in right after missing some time with a strained oblique. It’s the same injury that’s sidelined outfielder Travis Buck, but he’s available to play Sunday.

– Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) is scheduled to see his first action of the spring Sunday and will be in the starting lineup at second base when the Astros face the Yankees on Monday night.

– Right-hander Kyle Weiland will make his first start of the spring Monday against the Yankees in Tampa. That’s the rotation spot of Bud Norris, who will instead throw four innings/60 pitches in a simulated game. The Astros know what Norris can do, but getting a chance to see Weiland face the Yankees will be a good test for him.

Astros lineup vs. Tigers:

CF Jason Bourgeois

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

C Chris Snyder

DH Chris Johnson

3B Jimmy Paredes

RF Justin Ruggiano

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

Game 7: Another rough day on the mound

There might not be a more difficult environment to judge pitchers, especially early in camp, than in central Florida. The wind is usually whipping around and bright, sunny skies make tracking fly balls difficult. What does this have to do with pitchers? Astros starter J.A. Happ was victimized by the conditions when left fielder J.D. Martinez lost a fly ball in the sun in the first inning Friday, and right Jason Bourgeois couldn’t quite corral a ball in the fourth as it darted through the wind and the sun’s rays.

Still, Happ was the first to say he needs to pitch around that stuff, and ultimately the outfielders know they need to make those plays. It was just one of those days at the ballpark for the Astros, who lost consecutive games for the first time this spring, 11-2, to the Jays at Osceola County Stadium. You can see the boxscore here.

The big news from camp Friday was the decision by the Astros to keep the pistol on the retro Colt .45s jerseys they will wear twice this year. You can read all about it here, including reaction from an original Colt .45.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Let’s start with two guys coming off injuries — third baseman Jimmy Paredes and catcher Jason Castro.

Castro caught six innings — his longest stint of the spring — and continues to look strong. He went 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and a double and threw out the speedy Anthony Gose trying to steal. You remember Anthony Gose, right? He was one of the players the Astros acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt deal, but they quickly spun him to the Jays for Brett Wallace.

Paredes, meanwhile, made his first start of the spring after nursing a wrist injury and went 1-for-3 with a run scored and three balls that were hit hard, to both fields. He also made a nice defensive play at third base on a bases-loaded dribbler, picking the ball and throwing out the runner at first. He’s going to be fun to watch for sure.

The other Astros hits came off the bats of Brandon Barnes, Carlos Lee, George Springer and Jose Altuve.

Eight Astros pitchers took the mound, and David Carpenter, Wilton Lopez and Wesley Wright each threw a scoreless inning to end the game. Carpenter struck out two batters, and Lopez whiffed all three batters he faced. Wright had one strikeout.

The Astros didn’t commit an error.

What went wrong: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ was shaky and needed 64 pitches to make it through 2 2/3 innings, allowing five hits, three runs and three walks. It’s early and he’s still working on stuff, but Happ would like to see better results. Left fielder J.D. Martinez lost a ball in the sun in the first inning that led to a run, and perhaps both runs Happ allowed.

“With Happ, I would have liked to have seen him stay in control of the [first] inning a little bit,” manager Brad Mills said. “After that first guy gets on, that kind of shook him up a little bit. And then the ball got right in the sun for J.D. and it was kind of tough. At least we were able to talk about it with him and hopefully we can get away from that.”

Here are some video highlights and interviews with Happ and Mills.

Brett Myers is trying to build arm strength as he gets geared up to be the closer and allowed three hits and three runs in one inning, throwing a lot of fastballs. He, too, saw an outfielder misplay a fly ball because of the elements, which could have affected his line. Don’t worry about Myers. He’ll be fine.

Aneury Rodriguez was simply just knocked around. Rodriguez had a 1-2-3 fifth inning, striking out a pair, before getting tagged for five hits, five runs and two walks in the sixth as the game got out of hand.

“He had such a good first inning and then lead-off home run got to him and the four-pitch base on balls got him in trouble. All in all, the six walks was a big detriment to what happened today,” Mills said.

At the plate, the Astros were held to six hits. Jordan Schafer, Jason Bourgeois and Brian Bogusevic were 0-for-3.

What they said: “Offensively, their guy [pitcher Henderson Alvarez] was getting head of us throwing quality strikes right away. We still did a pretty good job of having some pretty good at-bats. We did hit quite a few balls hard. I’m trying to look at some of the bright things. We scored two runs, but when you get down like that it takes a lot out of your offense as well.” — Astros manager Brad Mills.

What’s next: Left-hander Zach Duke will state his case to be in the starting rotation when he makes his first start of the spring when the Astros meet the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Dunedin, Fla. Duke pitched three innings in relief Monday. Jordan Lyles will pitch behind Duke and could go three innings.

Injury update: Catcher Humberto Quintero, who had a cortisone injection into his back on Wednesday to help alleviate the pain from a bulging disk, will catch in the bullpen on Saturday and attempt to block balls and throw on Sunday, with hopes of making his return Monday against the Yankees. … Infielder Angel Sanchez, who has been dealing with back pain, didn’t play in Friday’s game against Toronto as originally planned. Astros manager Brad Mills said he didn’t want to put Sanchez in a game that was out of hand. 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. … LHP Sergio Escalona (elbow soreness) continues to play catch.

Here are the photos:

Brett Myers plays catch in the morning.

Astros Minor League players hit the field after hearing a speech from manager Brad Mills.

Third base coach Dave Clark hits balls to the outfielders.

Jose Altuve and Jason Bourgeois hit the field for BP.

Jason Bourgeois bunts as I tell him to keep the bat head out front.

Jordan Schafer fouls off a pitch in BP.

Brian Bogusevic gets his gear in order to get ready to hit.

Milo Hamilton lectures a group of journalism students from Ball State.

Jeff Luhnow and Brad Mills talk behind the cage.

Milo Hamilton interviews Jason Bourgeois, who I think should get into broadcasting when his career is over.

Game 1: Castro’s return, Johnson’s homer thrill Astros

The Astros began Grapefruit League action on Saturday afternoon at warm and windy Osceola County Stadium by beating the Washington Nationals, 3-1, behind strong efforts from seven different pitchers and a two-run homer by Chris Johnson.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: You have to start with health. Catcher Jason Castro made his return from a pair of injuries, including a torn ACL that cost him all of last season, and caught three innings and threw out a runner trying to steal. More importantly, Castro says he felt fine. That’s great news for the Astros. Brandon Lyon pitched in a game for the first time since June 13 and threw a scoreless inning.

Astros pitchers didn’t walk any batters, which is a rare feat in a Spring Training game in which you had seven pitchers take the mound. Livan Hernandez and Kyle Weiland threw two scoreless innings, and Brett Myers, Fernando Abad, Brandon Lyon, Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez each threw a scoreless inning.

Hernandez is relishing the chance to mentor the Astros young staff.

Myers gave up the only run of the game for the Astros, but he appeared to have struck Jesus Flores out on an 0-2 pitch before Flores hit an RBI double. Myers and the Astros were a poor call away from a possible shutout.

At the plate, Chris Johnson gave the Astros all the offense they needed with a two-run homer. It’s a great start for Johnson, who is trying to win the Opening Day third base job. With Jimmy Paredes nursing a sore wrist, Johnson is taking advantage of his opportunity early.

Elsewhere, J.B. Shuck had a hit and – surprise! – a walk, and Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie (triple) and Jason Bourgeois had hits. The Astros didn’t commit an error.

What went wrong: Well, nothing really. When you don’t walk any batters, don’t make any errors, win the game and escape healthy, it’s a good day.

What they said: “We always talk about going up there and having good at-bats and making good contact. When it went over the fence, that was a plus. It’s definitely a good start, but it’s only one at-bat. I have to keep going.” – third baseman Chris Johnson on his two-run, fourth-inning homer of Washington’s Ross Detwiler.

What’s next: Left-hander J.A. Happ makes his first start of the Grapefruit League season when the Astros travel to Viera, Fla., to play the Nationals on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. CT (the game will be broadcast on MLB.TV). Among the players expected to be in the lineup for the first time for Houston are Chris Snyder, Brian Bogusevic and J.D. Martinez.

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) has been cleared to swing a bat from the left side of the plate. … Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) is making steady progress but isn’t game ready.

Here are the photos:

Livan Hernandez catches up with some old teammates.

Bench coach Joe Pettini skies some pop ups during morning drills.

Chris Johnson and Jason Michaels catch up.

Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson talk at the cage.

Jose Altuve prepares to take a cut.

Jason Castro makes contact.

Brandon Barnes signs autographs.

Astros outfield race has plenty of options

The Astros plan to give Brian Bogusevic a good look in center field this spring, putting him in competition with Jordan Schafer and Jason Bourgeois for the starting nod. Bogusevic started 31 games in right field last year after Hunter Pence was traded, but has some experience in center and enough athleticism to play the position.

What’s more, the Astros have Jack Cust and Travis Buck capable of playing right field.

“His ability gives him the opportunity to be able to play center or right, but we want this guy to step up and be an everyday starter for us and there’s reason he won’t be able to,” Astros manager Brad Mills said of Bogusevic. “We all saw what he can do at times last year.”

Bogusevic, a former first-round pick as a pitch who made the switch to outfield in 2008, understands the importance of being versatile enough to play different positions, and is more than willing to give center field a shot.

“There’s a lot of guys going for open spots, so I think everybody is trying to make a good impression all around,” he said.

Cust can play in left and right and will get some ground balls at first base. Top prospect Jonathan Singleton will also get some time in the outfield, Mills said. Versatile infielders Matt Downs and Brian Bixler will also do some work in the outfield.

Regarding Schafer, Mills said: “He seems like he’s on a mission.”

Here are a few other items of interest:

  • Astros manager Brad Mills announced the starting pitchers for the team’s first two Grapefruit League games, with veteran Livan Hernandez pitching Saturday against the Washington Nationals – his former team – at Kissimmee. Left-hander J.A. Happ will face the Nats on Sunday in Viera, Fla.
  • Astros pitchers will take a break from throwing live batting practice on Tuesday, giving some of the pitching groups two days off between times on the mound.
  • The Astros haven’t been able to successfully schedule extra B games against other clubs, something they wanted to do to create more innings for all of the arms they have in camp. Mills said some pitchers might have to throw in Minor League games. “You’d rather have B games against other teams, but that didn’t quite work out,” he said.
  • Infielder Angel Sanchez was again forced to watch from the sidelines against Monday because of his ailing back. Sanchez did some light toss, but didn’t participate in the team’s defensive drills. He said the back is improving.

Here is the day in pictures:

Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson take balls at third.

Chris Snyder and Jason Castro walk across the field.

A group of pitchers awaits the next drill.

Brad Mills watches Zach Duke pick-off drills.

Back problems kept Angel Sanchez on the sidelines Monday.

David Carpenter, Fernando Rodriguez and Lucas Harrell shoot the breeze.

David Carpenter throws a pitch to a hitter.

Jason Castro check the schedule.

Who knew bats on born-on dates?

J.D. Martinez talks with hitting coach Mike Barnett.

Jose Altuve plays catch with himself while awaiting the next drill.

Players trickle into camp in Kissimmee

There is no official “reporting” date to Spring Training as there has been in years past, but several players were at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday — one day ahead of the first workout for pitchers and catchers.

J.A. Happ and fellow starting pitcher Bud Norris were among a handful of players to seize the opportunity to get on the back fields and play catch. Also working out Sunday were pitchers Lucas Harrell, Fernando Rodriguez, Wesley Wright, David Carpenter, outfielder Jake Goebbert and catcher Jason Castro.

Other who were in camp Sunday: Chris Snyder, Jack Cust, Zach Duke and Jorge De Leon.

“There’s going to be a lot of competition for positions, but it’s always going to be good just to see everybody again,” Happ said. “It’s good to have a little time off, but after so long everybody is going to be ready to get going again.”

The Astros will have 63 players in camp this year, including 23 non-roster players. The pitchers and catchers will take their physicals prior to Monday’s workout.

“We’ve been in Houston so long, champing at the bit,” said infielder Brett Wallace, who reported well ahead of the Feb. 26 first workout for position players. “Getting in last night and getting the chance to get in there, it’s like reality that it’s about to start. I think we’re all excited to get going this year.”

The Astros have more jobs up for grabs than any camp in recent memory. The top three spots in the rotation are decided, with Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Norris returning, and Carlos Lee (first base), J.D. Martinez (left field), Jose Altuve (second base) and newcomer Jed Lowrie (shortstop) likely to be in the Opening Day lineup.

“We’ve got to come in here and be positive, and that’s our No. 1 priority,” Norris said.  “A lot went on last year besides playing baseball that kind of had us living in limbo land with the ownership, but finally we got that settled and I’m sure [new owner Jim] Crane is going to have an opportunity to talk to us and we’re going to have an opportunity to talk to him. It’s a fresh start. That’s what we needed.”

—–

Veteran relief pitcher Brandon Lyon, who underwent surgery last year to repair the detachment of his right biceps tendon and to also mend a tear in his labrum, was understandably eager to get to Kissimmee. Lyon has been throwing off the mound at home and said he comes to camp with no limitations.

“I’ve thrown a few times off the mound, which is kind of rare for me coming into Spring Training,” he said. “I usually don’t throw too much, but I felt like I had to throw a couple of times and get on the mound and see where I’m at. I’m actually pretty happy where I’m at. I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am right now.”

—-

Catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season with a serious knee injury and underwent foot surgery two months ago, reported to camp on Sunday in good shape. He underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove the sesamoid bone from his foot after injuring it playing in the Arizona Fall League and sat out all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a large tear in the meniscus and having a reconstruction of the right ACL.

“I feel really good health-wise,” Castro said. “I’ll be ready to go. That’s a big reason why I’m excited. I wasn’t sure how the whole rehab process was going to go, but everything has gone really well. That makes me even more excited to get going, knowing I’m healthy.”

Here are some photos from Sunday:

Astros jerseys are lined up in the clubhouse.

More jerseys ready to go.

The pristine field at Osceola County Stadium.

A line of home plates awaiting catchers. They'll be manning them on Monday.

Lucas Harrell, David Carpenter and Fernando Rodriguez stretch.

Jason Castro plays catch as Brett Wallace awaits a throw.

Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ play catch.

Castro suffers injury setback

Astros catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season after undergoing major knee surgery, will miss the first part of Spring Training after undergoing surgery Friday to remove the sesamoid bone in his left foot.

The injury, which Castro suffered in the Arizona Fall League last month, is similar to the injury suffered a year ago by former Astros second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who had surgery to remove the sesamoid bone Jan. 14 and returned to action in late May.

Castro isn’t allowed to put any weight on the foot for a couple of weeks and won’t be ready for action when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 20, but he is hopeful to be healthy for Opening Day. He hit .205 with two homers and eight RBIs in 195 at-bats in his Major League debut in 2010.

“The timing couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly, as far as having something happen,” Castro said. “You never want anything like this to happen. It gives me time to get healthy and basically have the entire Spring Training to get back in shape.”

Still, the injury casts some uncertainty over Houston’s catching situation entering spring camp. Castro, the club’s first-round pick in 2008 out of Stanford, is slated to be the starter next year in what would be his first full season in the Major Leagues.

Humberto Quintero got most of the starts at catcher last season and on Monday was re-signed to a one-year, $1-million deal, plus bonuses, to avoid arbitration.

Quintero, 32, hit .240 with two homers and 25 RBIs in 79 games last season and has started 147 games the past two years. The Astros have added catching depth by claiming catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Orioles in October and they recently re-signed Carlos Corporan to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Castro, 24, missed all of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a large tear in the meniscus and a reconstruction of the ACL. He suffered the injury early in Spring Training when he stepped awkwardly on first base while running out a ground ball in Lakeland, Fla.

Castro doesn’t know exactly when his current injury occurred, except that the foot began bothering him in the Arizona Fall League title game.

“That’s when I noticed it,” he said. “They’ve told me two-to-three months is about normal for a full recovery. I’m kind of looking right in there and looked at the calendar. It looks like I won’t miss much of anything. Three months puts me in the first week of Spring Training games, and hopefully if all goes well I won’t miss anything as far as playing time and all that.”

Castro, hit .289 in 12 games for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League with a .404 on-base-percentage.

Arizona Fall League update

There will be more on the Arizona Fall League and some other Astros playing in winter ball when the story posts on Astros.com later today, but here’s a sneak peek:

Astros general manager Ed Wade came away impressed after spending some time earlier this month getting a close-up look at the club’s prospects that are participating in the Arizona Fall League, which is about halfway through its schedule.

The seven players from the Houston organization are competing for the Salt River Rafters.

“We’re pleased with the way things are going there,” said Wade, who traveled to Arizona early in the month with assistant general manager David Gottfried. “We missed Jason Castro while we were there. I had seen him in instructional league the previous week and we had given Jason permission to be in a wedding and we missed him when we were out there. All reports we have gotten have been very solid.”

Astros Major League scout Paul Ricciarini is currently in Arizona and has sent positive reports back about Castro, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament running the bases early in Spring Training and had season-ending knee surgery in March.

Castro, who’s expected to be the team’s starting catcher next year, was hitting .167 with five strikeouts in only 12 at-bats in four games (he was slowed by a ribcage injury), but he went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI on Thursday and, more importantly, is in good shape physically.

“Paul was very impressed with the way Jason has progressed since the last time he had a chance to see him,” Wade said.

The player putting up the best numbers for the Astros is first baseman Kody Hinze, who slugged 29 homers last season between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi combined. He was hitting .294 with two homers and nine RBIs through nine games.

Jake Goebbert, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who progressed from Lancaster to Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and hit a combined .290 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs, was batting .162 with two homers and three RBIs in 10 games. Speedy outfielder Jay Austin had appeared in five games and was hitting .263 with three stolen bases.

“From the position players we did see, Kody Hinze was swinging the bat well and driving in some runs,” Wade said. “Jay Austin was out there on a taxi squad and played a couple of games and got on base, and we see the same tools and same out of Jay since we drafted him and signed him. He just needs to continue to be given opportunities. He’s probably one of those guys that’s going to take a level at a time to get his feet on the ground and show what he’s capable of doing.

“Goebbert played in a couple of games and swung the bat well. He knows how to play the game the right way and we like what we saw out of him.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who went 9-7 with a 3.17 ERA at Double-A before getting his feet wet at Triple-A last season, is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts in Arizona.

“He’s one of those guys you have to ignore the radar gun when he’s pitching because he’s not going to put up big gun numbers,” Wade said. “In the game I saw him pitch, he was consistent with what I’ve seen out of him every time he’s pitched. He commanded his pitches well and he’s got an excellent changeup and changes speeds.”

Right-hander Jason Stoffel had appeared in six games and allowed five earned runs and eight walks and struck out nine batters in five innings. Right-hander Josh Zeid was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in six games, but he had allowed only one run in his past three outings entering play Monday.

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 6: Final outs prove to be tough for Astros

The big news of the day at Astros camp was Friday morning’s announcement that starting catcher Jason Castro would likely miss the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, in addition to the medial meniscus tear that was revealed Thursday.

For more information on the Castro injury, click here.

For a look at some of the catchers that could be available via trade, click here.

On the field, the Astros lost the Cardinals, 10-2, at Osceola County Stadium. The Cardinals scored nine of their 10 runs after two outs as Astros pitchers had trouble finishing off innings.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Jason Michaels continued his hot spring by going 2-for-2 in the designated hitter role, raising his average to .500. Michaels isn’t seeing any time in the outfield because right arm is giving him a little bit of discomfort.

Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson, Angel Sanchez, J.R. Towles and Carlos Corporan each had a hit, and Matt Downs homered to left field in the second inning.

On the mound, Fernando Abad breezed through a scoreless inning with one strikeout, and Patrick Urckfitz and Casey Fien each threw a scoreless inning. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start and didn’t too poorly. He retired five of the first six batters he faced before a two-out walk in second allowed the Cardinals to score three times.

“Finding that third out was elusive,” manager Brad Mills said. “I thought the ball came out of Ryan Rowland-Smith’s hand well. He deserved a little bit better fate than what happened, simply because he was throwing the ball so well.”

What went wrong: The Astros committed three errors, including two in the sixth inning when Mark Melancon was on the mound. Angel Sanchez made a fielding error, and catcher Carlos Corporan had a throwing error in the inning, helping the Cardinals score two unearned runs.

“He did a great job of getting those ground balls,” Mills said of Melancon. “You want your pitcher to get those ground balls. His breaking ball was much more consistent than his last outing, which was sure nice to see. He got some plenty of ground balls that should have finished the innings.”

The Astros were held to eight hits, with Downs’ homer the only extra-base hit in the bunch.

“You saw some real good at-bats and some questionable,” Mills said. “We saw some balls hit hard and some early-count outs, and you don’t want to see those as much. That’s going to happen, too, don’t get me wrong. I realize that’s going to happen, but you’d like to see more consistency.”

Closer Brandon Lyon allowed four hits and two runs in one inning, and Lance Pendleton’s bid for a roster spot wasn’t helped by allowing two hits, a walk and one run in one inning. Jeff Fulchino gave up a pair of unearned runs.

What they said: “Obviously, you want the results and you want to feel good. I’m not going to lie about that. The results weren’t there for me today, but I felt strong and was on top of the ball and my mechanics felt good. I was throwing all my pitches around the zone. I was happy with that and I just missed a few pitches.” - Astros pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith.

What’s next: Wandy Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and six runs in his first spring outing, tries to right the ship when he faces the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in a split squad game at Osceola County Stadium. He had a poor spring a year ago and needs a good showing. Jordan Lyles, the team’s top prospect, makes his first start of the spring in the other split-squad game against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Injury update: Catcher Jason Castro underwent major surgery on his right knee Friday and is likely out for the season. … Outfielder J.D. Martinez is nursing a sore quadriceps and is awaiting his first Grapefruit League action of the spring. … Jason Michaels has been limited to designated hitting duties with some arm discomfort.

And, finally, here are some pictures from Friday:

Spring 0304 001.jpg

Above: Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg catches a portion of J.A. Happ’s bullpen session.

Spring 0304 003.jpg

Above: Jeff Bagwell talks with Brett Myers before Bagwell left camp and returned home.

Spring 0304 006.jpg

Above: Bud Norris throws on the practice mounds Friday, with Arnsberg behind him.

Spring 0304 016.jpg

Above: A 1980s Astros reunion? That’s Cesar Cedeno in between Enos Cabell and Jose Cruz. Sorry, I couldn’t get a good shot of Cedeno’s face, but trust me. That’s him.

Spring 0304 014.jpg

Above: Angel Sanchez practices putting down a bunt.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers