Results tagged ‘ LaTroy Hawkins ’
The Astros were ranked 25th in baseball in the number of innings thrown by their starting pitchers prior to Friday. Astros starters had thrown 646 innings, which was just ahead of the 644 1/3 thrown by the Brewers starters.
Astros starting pitchers went exactly five innings in all four games of the series against the Marlins in Florida, putting a big strain on relief pitchers. The bullpen, which was one of the Astros’ strengths last year, has been ravaged by injuries and overuse.
Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Sampson, Geoff Geary and Wesley Wright have all spent time on the disabled list year, forcing others into roles they wouldn’t have been in otherwise. Jeff Fulchino and Alberto Arias have been called upon more, but even they haven’t pitched as well as they did earlier.
“We need two or three days in a row of seven innings [from a starting pitcher] and we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. “It hasn’t happened too often here lately for us.”
Cooper was undoubtedly cringing when Wandy Rodriguez gave up eight runs in the first inning Friday. He threw seven innings in his previous start Sunday before the run of four consecutive five-inning outings by the starters.
Cooper said trying to identify a pitcher to work in long relief has been difficult. The addition of Yorman Bazardo will help, but the Astros will have to keep him back in case Mike Hampton can’t make his next start.
“Last year, we had Geary and we had Sampson and they both would flip-flop every other day, and they were both strong and did a good job for us,” he said. “This year we had to press Arias into some spots we wouldn’t have used him, as well as Fulchino. Geary’s not here and Sampson was good in the first half and has struggled lately.
“It’s been a little struggle to keep it all mapped out, but that’s still not an excuse. We have to go out and get it done.”
Sampson was sent to Triple-A Round Rock following Thursday’s rough outing in Florida, and Cooper reiterated that he was told by Sampson and the training staff that the right-hander was healthy. Sampson says he hasn’t been 100 percent since coming off the disabled list.
Still, Cooper admitted that perhaps he could have not used him as much.
“I wish we could have given him more rest, maybe, early on and tried to avoid some of this,” he said.
The news was very good for the Astros in the health department on Friday. Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and LaTroy Hawkins each threw successful bullpen sessions and are close to returning.
Rodriguez, who left his last start Saturday in St. Louis with a hamstring strain, will start Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched since straining his lower back July 28, will return to the rotation Tuesday against Florida, assuming all goes well with his scheduled bullpen Sunday.
And then there’s Hawkins, who appears like he’ll be able to come off the disabled list when scheduled on Wednesday. Good thing, too, because Doug Brocail went on the DL for the third time this season Friday, this time with a shoulder strain. Could we have seen the last of Brocail? I hope not, but considering his age (42) and medical history (15 DL trips) he could be done.
That brings us to Lance Berkman. Big Puma is still nursing a sore left calf, but said Friday he feels he could play. The Astros, however, are taking a more cautious approach, but based on his comments Friday, it appears Berkman could return by Monday.
If Rodriguez, Oswalt and Berkman return, stay healthy and perform like they did before they got injured, the Astros still have a chance. They’re five games out with 53 to play, so there is no time to waste for the local nine.
The Astros’ 100th game of the season was anything but ordinary. They lost Roy Oswalt to a lower back strain in the second inning and watched relievers Wesley Wright and Jeff Fulchino each give up three runs in relief. Thanks to 17 hits and big games from Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Tejada, they still thumped the Cubs, 11-6.
The win moved them to within 2 1/2 games of first place, which is now occupied by St. Louis. The Cubs are one-half back and the Astros are in third place with two games remaining at Wrigley before moving onto Busch Stadium.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that went on Tuesday with the Astros:
– RHP LaTroy Hawkins was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game with shingles, which has been causing back pain. Hawkins is a mess. He can barely stand up and can’t sit at all, which means he’s doing a lot of laying on his back.
– RHP Doug Brocail was activated from the disabled list to take Hawkins’ spot on the roster. Brocail, who hasn’t pitched since May 4 because of a right hamstring strain, made four of his six scheduled Minor League rehab starts before having his stint cut short at Double-A Corpus Christi. He will join the team in Chicago on Wednesday.
– LHP Wesley Wright was taken to the hospital following Tuesday’s game with possible appendicitis. Wright pitched 2 1/3 innings after Roy Oswalt left the game (more on that below) and had a crisp inning before walking five batters and giving up three runs in one inning. No word on his condition.
– RHP Roy Oswalt will fly home to Houston on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s game after 1 2/3 innings with a strained left lower back. He said the back bothered him slightly in his previous start five days earlier against St. Louis and it flared up again in the bullpen two days later. Oswalt was on the DL in 2006 with a mid-back sparin and last year with a left hip abductor strain. An MRI of Oswalt’s back taken last July showed a small disc protrusion.
– RHP Jeff Fulchino and LHP Wesley Wright each picked up their first Major League hits. Wright singled to left in his first Major League plate appearance, becoming the Astros pitcher to do that since Brad Lidge in 2002. Fulchino also got a ball stuck in his jersey on a ball hit by Kosuke Fukudome.
– 2B Jeff Keppinger started in place of Kaz Matsui and had four hits. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready so see Keppinger play more than Matsui. Money aside, Keppinger is just a better hitter. He started and succeeded Tuesday and wasn’t facing a lefty, which is how he’s been used so often.Keppinger is hitting .283 with a .362 on-base percentage, and Matsui is hitting .244 with a .300 on-base percentage.
– RHP Bud Norris, the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Astros’ system by Baseball America, was called up following Tuesday’s game and will join the team Wednesday. Norris said he was charting pitches in stands during Round Rock’s game in Memphis, Tenn., when the clubhouse attendant fetched him and told him trainer Mike Freer wanted to see him. Freer told him to pack his bags for Chicago.
Norris is a starter, but could be used as a reliever. There are questions surrounding the health of both Roy Oswalt (back) and Wesley Wright (possible appendicitis), so Norris’ role is yet to be determined. He was 4-9 with a 2.63 ERA in 19 starts for the Express.
Astros general manager Ed Wade reiterated his stance Saturday that he doesn’t see his club making an impact trade before the July 31 deadline.
Wade said the Astros don’t want to give up prospects and aren’t in position to add salary. Also, Houston entered play Sunday three games out of first place in the NL Central.
“We’ll have conversations with clubs,” he said. “I just don’t want to raise undo expectations that we’re going to really be active at the trading deadline because that’s not going to be the case. We’re not going to be in a position to make a deal of significance.
“We’ve talked about where our payroll is at this point in time and we’re going to be very reluctant to give up a lot of young players. But we’ll continue to have conversations if there’s ways to improve.”
The kinds of things Wade anticipates doing are more along the lines of adding inexpensive pieces like Chris Coste, who was claimed off waivers July 10. Relievers Chris Sampson and Doug Brocail could also return from the disabled list soon.
“A year ago at this time we had a real pressing need for starting pitching and bullpen help and we went out and got [Randy] Wolf and [LaTroy] Hawkins,” Wade said. “The way Roy [Oswalt] and Wandy [Rodriguez] are pitching at the top of the rotation and the way the other three guys have gotten us deep enough into games, puts us in a position where we’re not in dire need to go out and add starting pitching.”