Results tagged ‘ Matt Lindstrom ’

Day 33 recap: Daigle, Lindstrom impressive in loss

Day 2 of the Astros’ three-day marathon road trip took them to Port St. Lucie to meet the New York Mets. For the second day in a row, the Astros had a handful of Minor League players suit up, though Cory Sullivan, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Geoff Blum were among the “regulars” who were in the lineup.

Facing left-hander Johan Santana for the second time this spring, Houston lost 5-2 to drop its Grapefruit League record to 11-9. There was plenty of good and plenty of bad in this one, so without further adieu, here’s the breakdown:

The good: Let’s start with pitching. Right-hander Casey Daigle, whom I really not have given much shot at all of making the team, threw four terrific innings in a spot start. He gave up three hits and one run and struck out four against no walks. After the game, manager Brad Mills said Daigle is in the mix for a bullpen spot, and his 0.87 ERA this spring would justify that.

Matt Lindstrom, who has been flat-out unhittable since changing the grip on his slider following his first outing, threw a 1-2-3 fifth inning, and Wesley Wright also had a scoreless inning in relief and struck out two batters.

The Astros reached double-digit hits once again with Jeff Keppinger, playing shortstop, going 2-for-4 and third baseman Chris Johnson going 2-for-4 with his team-high fourth homer of the spring, a blast off Santana that cleared the left-center-field wall in the fourth.

The bad: The Astros booted the ball around a little bit  and made three errors, two of which were made by players from Minor League camp: second baseman Matt Kata threw a ball away trying to turn a double play, and first baseman Mark Ori dropped a pop-up in foul territory. Johnson was also charged with an error at third base, but the ball took a bad hop.

“It always worries me,” Mills said of the errors. “If they have Astros on the front [of the uniform], you never like to see it. The one that I’m concerned with is the double play. I wish Matt would have just held the ball. You don’t have to try to turn that.”

Left-hander Tim Byrdak and right-hander Jeff Fulchino each gave up two runs in one inning, but both of Fulchino’s were unearned. Byrdak gave up a two-run homer to Daniel Murphy in the sixth inning. Geoff Blum grounded into two double plays, and the Mets stole two bases on catcher Jason Castro.

What they said: “He’s really made some adjustments, and how great is it to have a guy like that who’s going to make some adjustments so quickly? He’s thrown the ball really well. When a guy’s throwing the ball like that and able to do that, it’s nice to see him in whatever role.” – Mills on right-hander Matt Lindstrom, who threw a scoreless inning Wednesday to keep his ERA at 0.00 in six spring games.

What’s next: Another long road trip will take the Astros to Clearwater, Fla., to face the Philadelphia Phillies. Astros right-hander Brett Myers will make his first appearance against his former team when he starts against the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick.

Astro-notes: Mills gave a quick injury update following Wednesday’s game, saying shortstop Tommy Manzella (strained quadriceps), first baseman Lance Berkman (knee surgery) and center fielder Michael Bourn (strained oblique) were progressing. Mills said there was a chance Bourn could return to the lineup by Friday. … Mills said he plans to have most of his roster set by the time the Astros pack up to leave Florida in eight days: “I think everything will be pretty much set. Thee might be one question maybe. I don’t want to talk about that right now, but there might be one question. But we’ll see what it is. We’d like to have as much set as we could for those guys out there, so they can start getting ready for the season as well.”

Lindstrom shines; other Astros news from early Wednesday

Right-hander Matt Lindstrom was thrilled with easily his best outing of the spring in Tuesday’s win over the Mets. He threw two innings and didn’t allow anyone to reach base while striking out one batter, and manager Brad Mills said the extra work with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg is paying off.

“I thought that was just outstanding,” he said. “He threw six pitches in the first inning and that’s why we wanted to send him out for the second inning to get him some pitches. Arnie is working with him on some things, and the progress he made yesterday was leaps and bounds over his last outing. If we can keep him progressing in right direction, that’s going to build some confidence with him as well.”

Lindstrom has been working with Arnsberg on changing the grip on his slider. The new grip is more tailored to his arm angle so the ball doesn’t pop out of his hands as much. That will allow him to throw the fastball more in the zone.

“I felt like a had a lit better command of my slider and that makes a big difference when I’m throwing it for strikes and using it the way I know,” Lindstrom said. “The new grip with Arnsberg is something I feel comfortable with. It worked out good and you have to continue to build on it and feel more comfortable with it.”

Here are some other tidbits from this camp this morning:

  • Right-hander Brandon Lyon is scheduled to throw another 30-pitch side session Wednesday. Lyon, who hasn’t faced a batter this spring after having a cyst on his throwing shoulder drained, could throw live batting practice Friday if all goes well. Stay tuned for updates.
  • Catcher Jason Castro was sent home with a case of the stomach flu. He wasn’t scheduled to start on Wednesday, and Mills said he hoped he would be able to make his start Thursday against Washington: “He’s got the stomach thing a couple of guys had in the bullpen the past week,” he said. “We sent him home, and hopefully it’s a one-day thing, which we think it is.” Castro is 6-for-12 this spring.
  • Right-handed reliever Alberto Arias, who left Tuesday’s game with a mild strain in his upper back/neck/shoulder area, won’t throw for a couple of days. The plan is for Arias to get checked out Friday when the team doctors come to town. “We’re going to back him off and he’ll see a doctor on Friday and then we’ll go from there,” Mills said. “If it is something that needs to be calmed down, it will have a day to calm down before the doctors get here.”

Which players are you most excited about seeing this spring?

I’m back in town, but still on vacation technically until Thursday. In the meantime, Spring Training is casting a rather large shadow over me and everyone else who’s going to be in Florida in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to look ahead. No more mention of Miguel Tejada or Jose Valverde.

The Astros figure to have several intriguing storylines this spring, from a new manager in Brad Mills and several new members of the coaching staff, to key new faces in Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz. Then there’s younger players that are expected to make an impact, including a pair of rookies who could start: shortstop Tommy Manzella and catcher Jason Castro.

There are other interesting players who aren’t going to make headlines at camp: Chia-Jen Lo, Fernando Abad, Gary Majewski, Cory Sullivan, Jason Bourgeois, etc. I am going to be tracking the progress of all, but I am most intrigued by Manzella and Castro, and that’s simply because they could play huge roles. In fact, the club is banking on Manzella to do just that in April and Castro at some point this year to be a factor.

Which players are you, the fans, most excited about seeing?

Great day for Astros

Can you imagine how different the Astros’ winter would have been had Jose Valverde accepted arbitration and LaTroy Hawkins accepted their contract offer? The Astros would have liked to have been able to bring Hawkins back and took a huge risk by offering arbitration to Valverde, but the departure of both opened doors and wallets.

Astros general manager Ed Wade signed Brandon Lyon, Pedro Feliz and Brett Myers, traded for Matt Lindstrom and picked up two draft picks, including a first-round pick. Things couldn’t have worked out much better for the Astros, who would have been hamstrung had Valverde accepted arbitration.

Valverde winds up not making as much in 2010 as he would have with the Astros, but he got the comfort of a two-year deal with an option. The Astros got what they wanted, too, and even more. With Spring Training around the corner, the Astros are hitting the finish line of the Hot Stove season with a smile on their faces.

“I thought we entered into the Valverde situation in a win-win situation,” Wade said. “If he had accepted arbitration, we would have ended up with the best free-agent closer on the market. As it turned out, we were able to satisfy the back end of the bullpen with Lyon and Lindstrom and to score draft picks, particularly a first-round draft pick, is very satisfying.

“I like what he did for us and we would have loved to have him back, but at end of the day we have to look at end results and we felt that being able to add two additional draft picks in 2010 is a pretty favorable conclusion for us.”