Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Astros, Nats get funding approved for new spring site

The Astros cleared a major hurdle in relocating their Spring Training operations to Palm Beach County, Florida, on Tuesday when county commissioners voted to approve a financing plan for a new facility the club will share with the Nationals. The teams have 90 days to find a location for the complex.

County commissioners voted, 5-2, to allocate $108 million in hotel tax revenue for the facility, which will cost $135 million to build. The Astros have two years remaining on their lease at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., and are aiming to hold their first Spring Training in south Florida by 2017.

“We still have a little bit of work to do to find the right location, but the funding for it has been approved,” Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe said.

Kibbe said the Astros are considering a list of four or five potential sites, one of which will not be a 160-acre spot in West Palm Beach where the teams were hoping to build. The county compiled a list of potential sites earlier this year.

“We have several locations that we’re looking at,” Kibbe said. “We just need to figure out which one is the best location for everyone involved, the teams, the county and the communities. But there are multiples sites to look at and I’ll get to work on that evaluation and hopefully get this moving forward was quickly as possible. Today was important in that the financing has been approved and we’re ready to go.”

By moving to south Florida, the Astros and Nationals would give the area five teams during Spring Training. The Cardinals and Marlins share a site in Jupiter, which is in northern Palm Beach County, and the Mets are in Port St. Lucie, which is 33 miles north of Jupiter.

The Astros have held Spring Training at Osceola County Stadium since 1985 and will likely have only two years remaining there before moving south. The Nationals have held Spring Training at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., since they moved from Montreal in 2005.

“The timing of it depends on what happens as far as how quickly we move forward with the location and when the construction will start,” Kibbe said. “It’s a little up in the air as to when the facility would open. If we find a suitable location we’ll start moving as quick as we can. I’m just not sure when construction will start. Our plan is to try to get the new facility open in January of 2017.”

Porter returns to Viera to meet the Nationals

0305 022

Davey Johnson and Bo Porter

Astros manager Bo Porter, who spent the previous two years as third base coach of the Nationals, was handing out handshakes and hugs Tuesday in his return to Space Coast Stadium — the Spring Training site of the Nationals — as manager of the Astros.

“It’s great,” Porter said. “I have a lot of friends over here, a lot of great relationships. It’s not like we’re being reunited. We keep in contact constantly and leading up to today. It’s great to be back and see a lot of these guys and they’ve got a good thing going on. It’s a good ballclub and they’ve got a chance to do something special.”

Porter took time at the batting cage to talk with several players and Nationals manager Davey Johnson, whom he considers one of his mentors. He also revealed he’s part of a book club with several players on the Nationals that stays in contact via email. In fact, Porter said the book club, which focuses on inspirational work, is more than 700 strong.

Porter, 40, was met by about 12 reporters from the Washington area and was asked if the chance to be a manager in the Major Leagues was everything he could have imagined.

“The energy has been great, the attention to detail has been great,” he said. “We’ve fallen behind and come and battled and battled and you see the intensity, you see the attention to detail and it’s good to see from a staff standpoint.”

Much more on Porter’s return to Viera, Fla., later.

Here’s the Astros lineup:

SS Tyler Greene

2B Jose Altuve

LF Chris Carter

1B Brett Wallace

CF Justin Maxwell

RF J.D. Martinez

C Carlos Corporan

3B Matt Dominguez

DH Marwin Gonzalez


RHP Lucas Harrell (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Wandy tries to get Astros on track

The Astros, who have lost four out of five games, will send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound tonight against the Nationals. Rodriguez (0-1, 2.38 ERA) lost to the Braves at home five days earlier after pitching 6 1/3 innings on Opening Day without allowing an earned run. The Astros have made four errors in each of his two starts.

Here are the lineups:


CF Justin Maxwell

SS Jed Lowrie

LF J.D. Martinez

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

RF Travis Buck

C Chris Snyder

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez


SS Ian Desmond

2B Danny Espinosa

3B Ryan Zimmerman

CF Jayson Werth

1B Adam LaRoche

RF Mark DeRosa

LF Xavier Nady

C Jesus Flores

LHP Gio Gonzalez

Here’s a few notes:

  • The Nationals are 21-7 since last Sept. 11, which is the second-best record in baseball in that span behind the Rangers (22-4).
  • The Nationals enter Tuesday having only allowed two home runs, the fewest in the Majors.
  • After hitting four home runs in the first two games of the season, the Astros have suffered a power outage lately, hitting three homers in their last seven games.
  • The Astros’ .339 on-base percentage entering Tuesday is the third-highest in the NL, but their 77 runners left on base is second-most in all of baseball. Which team has stranded the most runners on base this year? The Nationals with 90.
  • Entering Tuesday, J.D. Martinez was tied for third in the NL in average (.371), tied for fourth in total bases (25), sixth in slugging percentage (.714) and sixth in OPS (1.150).
  • Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer has scored eight runs from the lead-off spot this year, which is tied for the third-most in the Majors. Ian Kinsler has scored 11 and Austin Jackson has scored 10.
  • Whether pitching for Boston or Houston, Kyle Weiland has always pitched much better on the road than at home. He’s 0-3 with a 10.26 ERA in his career at home and 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA on the road. I know, it’s a small sample, but interesting nonetheless.

Game 6: Bats go silent against Nationals

The Grapefruit League championship express was derailed Thursday afternoon in an 8-0 loss to the Nationals in Viera, Fla., as the Astros fell to 4-2 this spring. Here’s the boxscore.

For the news of the day, including Astros GM talking about his apology to the Rangers and the Astros announcing they’ll decide Friday whether to have the pistol on their Colt .45s retro uniforms, click here.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Jason Castro played in consecutive games for the first time this spring, going 1-for-3 at designated hitter one day after catching five innings. Even when he’s not catching, the Astros are going to take advantage of the DH to try to get him as many at-bats as possible.

Infielder Jimmy Paredes made his spring debut and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning from the left side of the plate. He’s scheduled to start Friday against the Blue Jays.

In addition to Castro, the only other hits were by Fernando Martinez and Chris Snyder. The Astros also didn’t commit an error once again.

On the the mound, the Astros got scoreless innings from pitchers Henry Villar and Fernando Abad, who drew heaps of praise for manager Brad Mills for the way he was able to make adjustments. Abad was all the rage a year ago after a strong winter ball outing, but he had a terrible spring. Mills said he’s pitching like he did in 2010, which is a great sign for the lefty.

Mills also lauded Lucas Harrell, who threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless, hitless relief. Mills said the ball was exploding out of his hand.

What went wrong: Livan Hernandez allowed three hits, two runs, including a homer, and two walks and struck out two batters in 2 1/3 innings in his second spring start. He left the game after being struck on the right leg by a grounder off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman, but the injury isn’t serious. Here’s what Hernandez had to say about it.

Right-hander Henry Sosa was roughed up, allowing seven hits and five runs in two innings.

“It’s a little puzzling because his command is usually pretty good,” Mills said. “We’re going to go back and discuss it and look at the charts and go from there and talk to him a little bit more. Usually, he’s much better of a command-type pitcher than he was today.”

The Astros were held to three hits, with J.B. Shuck, Marwin Gonzalez and Carlos Lee each going 0-for-3. When asked about the team’s offensive performance, Mills gave credit to Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, who threw four scoreless innings and struck out three batters.

What they said: “I felt good. The wind was crazy and there was the fly ball to right field [Zimmerman’s homer]. More important, I feel better than the first time. The breaking ball is better today and the changeup breaks very good. The sinker is working very good, too. I’m trying to work every day and am getting better and better. I feel good today.” — Astros pitcher Livan Hernandez on his outing.

What’s next: Jimmy Paredes, who started at third base for the Astros the final two months of the season, is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut when the Astros face the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. CT Friday in Kissimmee. Paredes has been bothered by left wrist inflammation since the winter. Left-hander J.A. Happ will start for Houston, making his second appearance of the spring. Brett Myers, Wesley Wright, David Carpenter and Aneury Rodriguez are also scheduled to pitch.

Injury update: Catcher Humberto Quintero was diagnosed with a bulging disk, which has been causing discomfort in his right hip. He had a cortisone shot in Houston on Wednesday and was back in Kissimmee playing catch Thursday. He could catch in the bullpen Saturday, but he probably won’t swing a bat until next week. … Shortstop Angel Sanchez (back) is progressing, but remains sidelined. … Infielder Jimmy Paredes (wrist) made his first Spring Training appearance Thursday and struck out swinging from the left side of the plate. He’s scheduled to make his first start Friday against Toronto and will come off the injury update. … Right-hander Livan Hernandez was hit on the right leg by a grounder Thursday and left the game, but he said it isn’t serious.

Here is the day in photos:

Livan Hernandez laughs as he jokes with former teammates across the field.

Astros pitcher Henry Sosa laughs while awaiting stretch.

Carlos Lee plays catch.

No catching gear required for Castro. He was the DH on Thursday.

Brad Mills shows off his arm by throwing BP.

Game 28: Strong return for Wandy

The Astros — playing without regulars Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace — were held to two hits on Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Nationals. But the news of the day was the solid return of left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who pitched four strong innings in his first start in nearly two weeks.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: Rodriguez, who will start the Astros’ second regular-season game of the year, allowed three hits and one unearned run and no walks in four innings. He threw 70 pitches in the game, and then tossed 12 more in the bullpen to reach his pitch count instead of perhaps getting pulled in the middle of an inning.

Right-hander Henry Villar has helped his chances of the making the club with a terrific spring performance. He threw two more scoreless innings Wednesday against the Nationals, striking out two batters, to lower his ERA to 1.80.

Villar, who made the jump from Double-A to the Majors last year, has thrown two innings in his past four spring outings, pushing his Grapefruit  League total to 12 innings. He’s allowed three hits, one walk and one earned run and struck out eight batters in that span.

Not much to report at the plate. The Astros had only two hits, a third-inning single by Oswaldo Navarro and an RBI single by Michael Bourn in the sixth.

Several Astros starters played nine innings Tuesday in 84-degree heat Wednesday, including center fielder Michael Bourn, shortstop Clint Barmes, second baseman Bill Hall, catcher J.R. Towles and first baseman Matt Downs. Building up endurance is important.

What went wrong: The Astros were held to two hits, going 2-for-27 at the plate against four different Washington pitchers. Clint Barmes (.208 spring average) was 0-for-4, and Bill Hall (.200), Carlos Lee (.222), J.R. Towles (.314) and Matt Downs (.256) were 0-for-3.

The Astros made one error, which led to the Nationals pushing across an unearned run in the third. Barmes made a nice two-out stop of a ground ball and bounced his throw past Downs at first base, and the runner eventually scored.

Left-hander Fernando Abad continued his Spring Training struggles , allowing four hits and two runs in one inning Tuesday. He gave up a two-run, tie-breaking homer to Mike Morse in the eighth inning to suffer the loss.

What they said: “You know what, the last inning I felt my shoulder a little bit tired because I had a long time of not throwing in a game. But everything is fine. I feel great.” — Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez on his first start since March 10.

What’s next: Left-hander J.A. Happ makes his second-to-last start of the spring when the Astros travel to Bradenton, Fla., on Wednesday to meet the Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT. Happ, who will start the Astros’ third regular-season game, is coming off his best start of the spring, holding the Marlins to four hits and no earned runs in four innings Friday in Jupiter, Fla. Jose Valdez, Enerio Del Rosario, Gustavo Chacin and Wesley Wright are also scheduled to pitch

Injury update: Closer Brandon Lyon was supposed to throw one inning in a Minor League game on Tuesday, but he had to be scratched due to an illness. … Infielder Angel Sanchez, meanwhile, was able to play in a Minor League game in Kissimmee. He led off five innings and went 1-for-3 with two walks and had no problems with his ailing back. Mills said Sanchez will return to the lineup Wednesday against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Sorry, no photos today. Will break out the trusty camera again in Bradenton on Wednesday.

Game 10: Things get ugly late for Astros

The Astros blew their second large lead in as many days Monday, watching the Washington Nationals score nine runs in the eighth inning – when all of the regular players were out of the game – and rally for a 14-9 win over the Astros at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.

The biggest news of the game came in the seventh inning when Bud Norris, who pitched in relief, had to leave with a mild right hamstring strain. Norris said after the game it was just a tweak and that he wasn’t too worried about it.

Here’s the breakdown:

What went right: The Astros had another big day at the plate, getting 15 hits one day after they had 17 hits against the Yankees. Among the starters, Michael Bourn, Clint Barmes and Brian Bogusevic were 1-for-4, and Chris Johnson was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer. Bourn homered to right field in the first at-bat of the game.

We’ll put J.A. Happ in the good category, even though he gave up three runs in the second inning.  All three runs were unearned – Johnson made a two-out error at third base in the inning – and he gave up three hits and two walks.  Norris threw two good innings before giving up a double and then leaving with a hamstring strain.

Happ looked terrific in striking out former teammate Jayson Werth with a 3-2 cutter in the first inning, but walked a pair of batters in the second, including one with the bases loaded. Happ said pitching with some traffic on the bases early in Spring Training isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I don’t want to get used to having to do that, but it is good,” he said. “It’s a good situational refresher how to pitch. It’s a little reminder that I rush myself when guys are on base sometimes, and I probably need to try to get ahead with the fastball a little bit more than I did today. All in all, I thought it went OK.”

Henry Villar pitched between Happ and Norris and threw two scoreless innings.

What went wrong: In addition to Johnson’s two-out error that helped the Nationals along in the second inning and the injury to Norris, relievers Patrick Urckfitz and Jorge De Leon combined to give up nine runs in the eighth. Urckfitz allowed four hits and five runs in 1 2/3 innings, and De Leon gave up five hits and four runs while getting just one out. Neither of these guys are going to make the club, but they need to take advantage of these situations.

What they said: “He was a little inconsistent and he’s going to have those, but he was able to come back to an extent. That inconsistency is something he’ll work through and there’s no reason to think he won’t.” – Astros manager Brad Mills said of J.A. Happ.

What’s next: It’s another split-squad date for the Astros, who will play the Mets at home in Kissimmee and the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Astros manager Brad Mills, who spent six years as the bench coach of the Red Sox, will travel to his old stomping grounds in Fort  Myers, where Rule 5 pick Aneury Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring and will be followed by fellow Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton. Nelson Figueroa will start in Kissimmee against the Mets, his former team.

Injury update: Bud Norris left Monday’s game with a mild hamstring strain, but he’s expected to be fine. … Jason Michaels is expected to play left field on Tuesday in Boston. He hasn’t played in the outfield this season because of some arm discomfort.

And now to the pictures, which are a little on the light side today because the lighting in Viera played tricks with my fancy camera:

Spring 0307 002.jpg

Above: Hunter Pence stretches his legs before he hits on field Monday.

Spring 0307 004.jpg

Above: Brett Wallace stretches his legs on the field.

Spring 0307 009.jpg

Above: Michael Bourn does a promotional voiceover for

Astros finally getting some breaks

A ball bounces over the head of left fielder Carlos Lee and leads to two runs in the ninth inning. Prior to this week, that would have done in the Astros. They would have went down quietly in the ninth and been saddled with another less.

But there’s been a different feeling at Minute Maid Park the last few days. Blown leads late in games are being turned into victories, and somewhere along the line there’s a hint of momentum and — dare are we say? — confidence.

“That’s important going forward,” first baseman Lance Berkman said. “We’ve got to believe that no matter what the circumstances in the game are we have a chance to win it and we’ve got a good feel over the last three games and just keep it going.”

After losing 14-4 in the series opener against Washington, the Astros won the final three games of the series, twice rallying in the bottom of the ninth after closer Matt Lindstrom blew saves in the top of the inning.

Thursday’s wasn’t really Lindstrom’s fault as much it was bad luck. A blooper by Willie Harris bounced over Lee’s head and resulted in an RBI and eventually the go-ahead run in the ninth, but the Astros got a huge break in the bottom of the inning when Cristian Guzman misplayed a two-out fly ball off the bat of Berkman to allow the tying run to score. Lee hit a two-run homer, and the Astros were winners.


“We knew we had three more outs and we were going to give it our best, but and we came out with the victory,” center fielder Michael Bourn said.

They are 20-34 at the one-third mark of the season and on pace to go 60-102. They’re tied with slumping Arizona for the worst record in the National League, but perhaps they’re getting things together. Berkman, Lee and Hunter Pence combined to go 5-for-14 on Thursday with two homers and are all swinging the bat better.

Maybe what we’ve seen the last three days is the real Astros.