Results tagged ‘ Jose Altuve ’

Altuve in some rare company

• 2B Jose Altuve set an Astros franchise record by recording a steal in 6 consecutive games…has recorded multiple steals in 4 consecutive games…is the 3rd player in the Modern era and the 1st since Ray Chapman in 1917 to record multiple steals in 4 straight games…his 36 steals lead the AL and are a new career high for a single season (had 35 total steals in 2013).
• Altuve increased his Major League-leading hits total to 116 on the season…is just 7 hits shy of Bob Watson’s Astros franchise record for hits prior to the All-Star Break (123 hits set in 1973)…today was his 35th multi-hit game of the year, which leads the Majors…was his 4th consecutive multi-hit game…has recorded multiple hits in 9 of his last 12 games…has hit over .500 in his last 14 games since June 12 (.509, 28-for-55).
• Altuve hit his 100th career double today, becoming just the 12th player in franchise history to compile 100 career doubles and 100 career steals…the others are Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Cesar Cedeno, Jose Cruz, Jimmy Wynn, Terry Puhl, Kevin Bass, Bill Doran, Enos Cabell, Derek Bell and Joe Morgan

Altuve returns to lineup for Astros

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who led the Major Leagues with 90 hits entering Tuesday, was back in the starting lineup against the Nationals for the first time since Thursday. He was hit on the hand by a pitch in that game and didn’t start over the weekend against the Rays in Houston.

Altuve was back in the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind Dexter Fowler, who led off the game with a single and was erased on Altuve’s double play.

“I feel really good,” said Altuve, who had a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning Sunday. “I feel 100 percent. I’m going to be ready to go and get on base and play defense to keep winning some games.”

The Astros’ lineup is clearly much more effective with Altuve in it. He has hit safely in 30 of his last 34 games and leads the American League with 24 stolen bases. Defensively, he ranks third among Major League second baseman in total chances (320), but has made just two errors.

“It’s always exciting when you pencil the big guy in the lineup,” manager Bo Porter said. “We’re happy to have him back. That was a scare, but the news was good right away with it not being a fracture and the soreness and the swelling is behind him, so he’s ready to go.”

Altuve out of lineup for first time

After saying this spring his goal was to play in 162 games this year, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was unhappy with being out of the lineup Wednesday against the D-backs. Altuve felt discomfort in his left oblique swinging at a 61-mph curveball Tuesday and was out of the lineup for the first time this season as a result.

“They asked me if I could play and I said, ‘Yes,’” said Altuve, who leads the Major Leagues with 88 hits and the AL with 24 steals and 279 at-bats. “I don’t think it’s something to take a day off, but if they want to keep me on the bench, I’m going to be ready to come in the game whenever they want.”

Astros manager Bo Porter always likes to play it safe with any kind of injury, and that is certainly the case with his best hitter.

“Altuve obviously wants to play, but at the same time you have to protect them from themselves,” Porter said. “We feel like if he gets treatment today and tomorrow, he should be fine and ready to go. This is not something we want to linger and become a problem where he could miss two or three weeks trying to recover from.”

Altuve said that he was going to try to get Porter to change the lineup.

“Whenever his baseball career is over, he’s got a chance to be an attorney because he tried to plead his beset cast to get himself in the lineup,” Porter said. “Jose Altuve is arguably one of the best players in our game. He’s not someone you can replace, but at the same time it’s the next guy up. Marwin [Gonzalez] is going to play second base today, and the guys we run out there we believe they’re going to give us an opportunity to win the game.”

Porter wasn’t asked if he would even stay away from Altuve in a pinch-hit situation.

“I wouldn’t go that far, because if the big guy is standing on deck over there it makes the other team think twice,” he said.

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.”

 

Astros take next step in rebuilding, sign Altuve

The Astros announced Saturday they had signed popular second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract extension with a pair of option years, marking the team’s first significant contract commitment under general manager Jeff Luhnow. The deal was first reported by MLB.com.

The extension begins in 2014 and runs through the 2017 season and provides the club with options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Additional terms were not disclosed, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported the deal is worth $12.5 million for four years with two club options for $6 million and $6.5 million.

“Jose values security and we value Jose, and it starts with that,” Luhnow said. “He’s done a terrific job for us ever since getting called up from Double-A two years ago, and he’s been a consistent force in our lineup. He just knows how to hit and he’s a good defender at second base, and when you get a player like that who can add value, not only when he’s at the plate but on the base paths, but also when he’s out there at second base, those are the types of guys we feel we need to have and have long-term. Removing some of the uncertainty for him and for us at this point makes sense.”

The Astros are essentially buying out Altuve’s three arbitration years (though 2017) and doing it in a relatively cost-friendly manner for the team.

Luhnow spent most of his first year on the job trading away players who were in the midst of multi-year contracts in exchange for prospects as the Astros went full-bore in their plan to rebuild through the Draft and player development.  The Astros opened this year with a payroll of about $22 million, with Bud Norris ($3 million) as the highest-paid player.

The Altuve deal, which has been in the work for a couple of weeks with talks intensifying in the last few days, means the club is taking the next step in its rebuilding process by locking up some young players it feels will be building blocks for the future. All-Star catcher Jason Castro could fit that mold.

“This won’t be the last time we tie up one of our young players,” Luhnow said. “In this case, it made a lot of sense, both in terms of timing and length of deal and so forth, but it’s something we’re going to look at.

“We’re going to have a lot of exciting young talent coming through our system and to the big leagues and once we feel there’s enough certainty on our side that the player is going to be around and be able to contribute at the level we need him to for the long haul, we’re going to try to get deals done. It eliminates some of the back-and-forth that goes on year in and year out with arbitration and gives the player some security and gives us some certainly know the player is going to be there for us.”

Altuve, 23, was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011 after the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger and plugged into the starting lineup. He batted .284 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 85 games as a rookie before a breakout season in 2012, when he hit .290 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 33 steals en route to an All-Star Game berth.

He is hitting .280 with three homers, 28 RBIs and 21 stolen bases through 86 games this season.

Astros, Altuve agree to long-term contract extension

The Astros have agreed to a long-term contract extension with popular second baseman Jose Altuve, a source told MLB.com on Saturday. The deal marks the team’s first significant contract commitment under general manager Jeff Luhnow. Terms of the deal aren’t known, but it will be announced later Saturday.

Luhnow spent most of his first year on the job trading away players who were in the midst of multi-year contracts in exchange for prospects as the Astros went full-bore in their plan to rebuild through the Draft and player development.  The Astros opened this year with a payroll of about $22 million, with Bud Norris ($3 million) as the highest-paid player.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports Altuve deal is worth $12.5 million for four years with two club options for $6 million and $6.5 million in 2018-19.

The Astros buying out Altuve’s arbitration years by signing him to the deal. He was scheduled to be arbitration eligible next year and a free agent following the 2016 season.

Altuve, 23, was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi in 2011 after the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger and plugged into the starting lineup. He batted .284 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 85 games as a rookie before a breakout season in 2012, when he hit .290 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 33 steals en route to an All-Star Game berth.

He is hitting .280 with three homers, 28 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 86 games this year.

Porter sees Dominguez, Castro for the long haul

Astros manager Bo Porter was asked repeatedly this spring about setting his starting lineup, and he always gave the same answer: “Jose Altuve is my starting second baseman and he’s going to hit leadoff.” In other words, Porter was set on the 5-foot-6 Altuve as his starting second baseman, but every other position was up for grabs.

Though the evaluation process continues in the outfield, earlier this month Porter identified J.D. Martinez as the starting left-fielder, Robbie Grossman as the starting center-fielder and Jimmy Paredes as the starting right-fielder — for now. These names are by no means locked in as much as Altuve, an All-Star a year ago, but Porter’s declaration was more about finding out what Martinez, Grossman and Paredes can do to prove they belong.

Which brings us to Saturday night, when third baseman Matt Dominguez and catcher Jason Castro both hit two homers, becoming the first Astros teammates to do that since Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio in 2005.

Dominguez, a tremendous defender, has seven homers in his last 12 games after not hitting a homer in his first 33 games this year, and the former first-round pick Castro has homered three times in his last six games and is hitting .450 in that span. Dominguez is hitting .253 with seven homers and a team-leading 24 RBIs, and Castro is hitting .265 with six homers and 15 RBIs.

After the game, Porter was ready to say Dominguez and Castro had joined Altuve in locking up a starting spot for the long term, and considering there’s nobody in the Minor Leagues ready to push them, that’s a good thing for the Astros.

“We found ourself a third baseman and we found ourself a catcher,” Porter said. “And coming into the season we knew we had a second baseman. This is the thing: You let them play long enough, the questions you have, they’ll answer them. One way or another, they will answer the questions you need to have answered. I will not leave this season without getting every question I have in my head answered.”

As for first base and shortstop? Jonathan Singleton appears to be the first baseman of the future and will begin his Minor League season next week after missing the first 50 games because of a second failed drug test. The shortstop spot is being kept warm until 2012 No. 1 pick Carlos Correa is ready, though Jonathan Villar could be interesting to watch next year.

And don’t sleep on Chris Carter, who has enough power to entrench himself at first base or designated hitter if he can cut down on his strikeouts.

Whether any of these names are here when the Astros hope to contend in a few years remains to be seen, but there are some signs on hope in the rubble of a 14-35 season.

Maxwell enjoys hitting behind Altuve

Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell loves hitting behind Jose Altuve, like he did for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday.

“For me, it makes me get ready on deck,” he said. “He’s not playing around when he gets up there. He’s coming to swing the stick. It helps me because I can’t be lethargic on my approach. He always keeps me on edge because it could be the first pitch of the at-bat when he gets a hit or the seventh or eighth pitch. He does a really good job, he’s got a great approach, and I try to mimic him in batting practice.”

Altuve entered Saturday hitting .364 with five multi-hit games. He ranked tied for fifth in the American League with 16 hits and tied for sixth in multi-hit games, and had reached base in nine of the Astros’ first 10 games this year.

The 6-foot-5 athletic Maxwell can only marvel at what the 5-foot-6 Altuve has accomplished.

“I think the first time I ever heard his name was when I was rehabbing from shoulder surgery [in 2011], and I just happened to check MiLB.com to see what was going on in the Minor Leagues, and I see this Altuve guy is hitting .380 in Double-A,” Maxwell said. “I clicked on his numbers, and now it’s kind of weird I’m playing with him now. He’s got incredible hand-eye coordination. Any time he takes a swing, he puts the barrel on the ball. He’s fast, too, so he gets a lot of infield hits and he’s got power.”

Game 23: Lyles struggles, Castro stays hot in loss

What happened: Jordan Lyles gave up 10 hits and six runs, including homers to Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista, as the Blue Jays outslugged the Astros, 10-6, who got homers from outfielder Brandon Barnes and catcher Jason Castro (boxscore).

What we learned: C Jason Castro isn’t putting too much stock into his torrid start this spring. Castro went 2-for-3 with a homer and is hitting .462 this spring with five homers and 11 RBIs.

“It’s really just a bonus,” he said. “Right now, it’s about seeing pitches and getting at-bats, repetition and my timing down and all the stuff for the regular season. I’m happy where I’m at. I feel good and the results are taking care of themselves. If it were going the other way, I’d pretty much say the same thing. Right now, that’s the biggest thing, is getting in the work to open up on March 31.”

Astros manager Bo Porter thought he knew what he was getting in Castro after watching game tape from last year — his first season since missing all of 2011 following knee surgery — but what he saw this spring was a different player.

“I got to Spring Training and saw him in batting practice the first couple of days and said, ‘That looks a lot different,’” he said. “You can tell by the way he’s blocking the ball, the way he’s swinging the bat, he’s healthy and has his legs underneath him. He’s doing a great job.”

What we learned II: 2B Jose Altuve is ready for the start of the season. Altuve continues to be about as steady as anyone in the game, going 3-for-4 with three singles on Tuesday to raise his spring batting average to .356.

“I was talking with Marwin [Gonzalez] about this,” he said. “I feel really good, feel 100 percent right now. I wish we were starting the season tomorrow. Like everyone, I’m really excited about going to the American League and playing hard and winning some games.”

What else: Porter was pleased with LF Chris Carter, who went 2-for-3 and is hitting .267. Carter pulled a fastball down the left-field for a double in the third and hit a 2-2 slider to right field in the fifth for a single. … The Astros were 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position. … Another scoreless inning by RHP Chia-Jen Lo lowered his ERA to 2.35.

What went wrong: Lyles gave up 10 hits and six runs and hit a batter in 3 2/3 innings. Porter said he wants him to pitch down the zone more next time out. … RHP John Ely pitched two innings and surrendered homers to Josh Thole and Ryan Langerhans. … The normally steady Matt Dominguez made an error at 3B.

What they said: “If you look up baseball player in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Jose Altuve. He’s just a baseball player.” — Astros manager Bo Porter on his All-Star second baseman.

What’s next: The Astros return to Osceola County Stadium on Wednesday to face the Mets at 5:05 p.m. CT. RHP Alex White, who’s battling for a spot in the starting rotation, will get the start for Houston. White, acquired from the Rockies in a December trade, has pitched in four games this spring, allowing eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Who’s injured: OF Fernando Martinez (lower back tightness) is day-to-day.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day: Astros notebook has tons of information, including Bo Porter’s thoughts on the DH, Trevor Crowe’s mindset entering final days of camp and much, much more.

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