Results tagged ‘ Philip Humber ’

Humber leans on Graham in times of need

Astros pitcher Philip Humber, who was told Wednesday by manager Bo Porter he was being moved from the rotation to the bullpen, was disappointed but understands the team’s decision. Humber is 0-7 with an 8.82 ERA in seven starts, including a 16.20 ERA in his last four starts after a solid start.

“It’s fine with me,” he said “To me, I’m looking at it as an opportunity to take a step back and there are some things I need to get better at. It will give me a chance to work on that and help the team however I can.”

Humber took advantage of Monday’s day off to meet with Rice University coach Wayne Graham, who won his only College World Series title when Humber pitched a complete game in the title game against Stanford 10 years ago.

“A lot of things he told me were the same things these guys told me, and I guess I was in a different frame of mind and more open to suggestions,” he said. “I’ve been kind of down on myself. I didn’t think my stuff was very good this year and kind of focused on that, rather than really just making pitches down the zone. My stuff’s going to get better, but right now it is what it is. Whatever your stuff is, if you’re throwing it up in the strike zone, it’s going to get hit hard. That’s what I want to get better at is locating all my pitches so I can get guys out. That’s the main thing.”

Humber made 10 relief appearances last year after the White Sox moved him out the starting rotation, so he’s no stranger to what needs to be done out of the bullpen.

“For me it’s a matter of getting right and getting more opportunities to get in there,” he said. “I need to get better. That’s the main things, that’s what I’m focused on, where ever I’m at — rotation or bullpen. I’ve got to pitch better and I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done so far, so I’ll keep working at it.”

Keuchel, Bedard to rotation; Humber to bullpen

Astros manager Bo Porter said Wednesday left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Friday’s series opener against the Rangers, with fellow southpaw Erik Bedard moving back into the rotation to throw Saturday’s game. Meanwhile, struggling right-hander Philip Humber has been moved to the bullpen.

“We’re just trying to go with the guys that give us the best opportunity at this time,” Porter said.

Keuchel is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in six relief appearances, so Friday will mark his first start of 2013. He made 16 starts for the Astros last year and was 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA, including a complete-game win over Cleveland on June 23.

“One of the things you look at, the Rangers’ lineup it’s left-handed dominant and they have some left-handed guys in their lineup, and we felt like if we can get both of our lefties matched up against them it would put us in good position,” Porter said. “Dallas has done a tremendous job out of the bullpen and he’s given us length every time he’s come into the game, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to get into the rotation.”

Bedard made five starts before being moved to the bullpen and now finds himself back in the rotation. He’s 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA as a starter this year, but in two relief appearances has allowed three hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings.

“The competition we have for these spots is a fluid situation and it wasn’t a competition that was going to end in Spring Training,” Porter said. “I made that perfectly clear to the guys then. Obviously, moves like this kind of reiterate that to them and we’re going to try to go with the hot hand and go with the guys that give us the best opportunity to win ballgames.”

Humber got off to a nice start for Houston and had a 2.89 ERA in three starts, but he was 0-3 after the Astros didn’t score any runs in any of those starts. But he’s 0-4 with a 16.20 ERA in four starts since.

“I talked to Humber and told him the same thing we told Bedard when we sent him down there,” Porter said. “I said, ‘It’s going to be a situation  you are built up and you’ve seen the long guys go down there and have success, like Keuchel, and end up back in the rotation.’ Bedard went down to the bullpen and did a tremendous job last time out and he’s going into the rotation. It’s a fluid situation we will continue to monitor and this competition will continue to go on.”

Bedard will pitch at Pittsburgh the following weekend, Porter said.

Game 27: Humber pitches well, Ankiel provides punch

What happened: Philip Humber allowed only three hits — all of them solo homers — in six innings and didn’t walk a batter, and Rick Ankiel hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Craig Kimbrel in the Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Champions Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: The signing of OF Rick Ankiel could pay off for the Astros. Ankiel, a non-roster invitee, had the only two hits the Astros collected against Atlanta with a seventh-inning double and his ninth-inning, two-run homer. Ankiel appears destined to start for the Astros on Opening Day and is hitting .395 with three homers and six RBIs this spring in 38 at-bats.

“Rick Ankiel is a professional Major League Baseball player that has played at a high level in this league, played on a World Series championship team and knows how to play the game,” manager Bo Porter said. “He has a great work habits, he is a good teammate. All the things we were looking for, we found in Ankiel and he’s been everything we could have imagined he could be.”

What we learned II: If IF Brandon Laird doesn’t make the team, he’ll be one of the absolute last guys to get cut. Laird, who can play first and third base, is battling for a backup infield spot and has made a good impression with the bat, hitting .310 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 47 at-bats.

“He’s in a good spot and he’s in a good spot because he’s put himself in a good spot,” Porter said. “He’s played well in different scenarios and situations we’ve put him in, and he’s gotten some big hits, some big RBIs. Again, it’s a guy we are definitely considering as far as the 25-man roster goes.”

What else: RHPs Josh Fields and Rhiner Cruz each had 1-2-3 innings in relief of Humber.

What went wrong: The Astros were held to only two hits.

What they said: “The first two I was being aggressive and didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to, but the last one it was a 3-1 count and I decide I wasn’t going to walk the guy. I felt the wind blowing in behind me and I said, ‘Well, maybe the wind will hold it up if he gets it.’ He hit it well enough to get it out of here.” — Astros RHP Philip Humber on the three homers he allowed.

What’s next: Minor League RHP David Martinez will start for the Astros on Sunday against the Miami Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. The Astros are trying to line up their starting pitching for the start of the regular season, but a bevy of relievers are expected to get some work in as well. Martinez was 9-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) at Class A Lancaster last year.

Who’s injured: Nobody.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day:

 

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.

Humber breezes through simulated game

Astros pitcher Philip Humber, who appears to be a near lock to grab a spot in the starting rotation to begin the year, threw a simulated game at the team’s Minor League complex on Monday morning. He threw 73 pitches over four innings with manager Bo Porter, pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach Dennis Martinez watching.

“The ball was coming out of my hand good today and my breaking ball was better than it has been,” Humber said. “I felt good about that. It was a good day of work.

“I feel like I’m where I need to be. I can’t ask for things to have gone any better. I feel healthy and I’m excited about the season.”

Game 13: Humber looks sharp in win over Nats

What happened: RHP Philip Humber threw four strong innings, and C Jason Castro bounced a two-run single into right field to score a pair of runs in the eighth inning to break a tie and send the Astros a 4-2 win over the Nationals on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).

What we learned: Humber has impeccable control of his fastball right now. He is still throwing mostly fastballs, and he was able to spot it so well against the Nats that he breezed through four innings.

“I threw my fastball where I wanted to throw it,” he said. “I threw four-seamers, two-seamers, and I think that helped things a little bit. When the [spring] season comes, the hitters are behind the pitchers for the most part. I’m going to have to throw more off-speed stuff than I did today [eventually]. But that’s definitely a good sign. That’s the first thing to come and usually everything else follows that.”

What we learned II: The Astros are better when they play at a quicker pace. Astros manager Bo Porter spoke to his pitchers and catchers on Thursday morning about the importance of working quicker, which he says won’t allow the defensive players to get lackadaisical on the infield.

“It’s something that we did address,” Porter said. “When you start to get deep counts and the pitchers are working slow, the defense gets on its heels a little bit. We reminded our guys, you want the plays made behind you, you need to get that ball, you need to go, you need to keep everybody on their toes and ready to go. The pitcher’s today did a great job with that, and Humber set the tone and every guy that came behind him, followed him.”

What else: OF Rick Ankiel‘s stolen bases in the eight inning set the stage for Castro’s game-winning hit. Not only did it get Ankiel into scoring position, but it forced the Nats bring the infield in with runners at second and third, and Castro bounced a hit over the infielder’s head. … OF Fernando Martinez went 2-for-2 with a double. … Only two of the Astros’ 11 hits were for extra bases. … OF J.D. Martinez, whose 22 at-bats this spring are tied for second-highest on the team, is hitting .364 (8-for-22).

What went wrong: The Astros only made one error, and it came when 1B Carlos Pena lost a high chopper in the sun and closed his glove either too early or too soon. … The Astros were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

What they said: “I was thinking that Bo was coming out to talk to me and he said, ‘Good job, you’re done,'” — Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel on being removed from the game after two innings.

What’s next: RHP Jordan Lyles will start for the Astros when they face the Atlanta Braves at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium. RHPs John Ely, Ross Seaton, Hector Ambriz and LHP Wesley Wright are also scheduled to pitch.

Who’s injured: LHP Erik Bedard (strained glute) is day-to-day). … C Max Stassi (sports hernia surgery) is out until April.

Tweet of the day:

Links of the day: You must read this feature on OF Brandon Barnes, whose tattoos reveal a lot about his life. The Astros notebook features owner Jim Crane talking about TV negotiations, Porter discussing the early-season rotation and LHP Erik Bedard talking about his injury.

The day in photos:

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Nolan Fontana ran the bases in big league camp

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Wesley Wright steps on first base following flip from Marc Krauss

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Trainer Nate Lucero and former first-round pick Jio Mier share a laugh

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Rene Garcia prepares to bunt

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Jake Goebbert

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Brett Oberholtzer pitches with Doug Brocail watching

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Hitting coach John Mallee and Carlos Pena

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Brett Wallace

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Rick Ankiel

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New TV announcers Alan Asbhy and Geoff Blum await pregame show

Astros toast Humber for his perfect game

Seeing that Rice University was set to honor Philip Humber on Thursday with a commemorative plaque for the perfect game he threw last year as a member of the White Sox, Astros manager Bo Porter decided to honor the right-hander as well.

The Astros toasted Humber in the clubhouse prior to Thursday’s workout at Osceola County Stadium with glasses of sparkling cider. Porter even arranged for Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was behind the plate when Humber threw the perfect game April 21 against the Mariners, to be on the phone from Arizona to lead the toast.

“Obviously, it’s quite an honor and it’s special when you’re able to accomplish pinnacles in this game,” Porter said. “We’re grateful to have Philip Humber in our organization and get him over from the White Sox, but we wanted to acknowledge him today.”

Humber threw the 21st player in Major League history to throw a perfect game last year. There were two more perfect games thrown during the season by San Francisco’s Matt Cain, who sent 27 Astros down in order June 13, and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Dennis Martinez, who threw the 13th perfect game in history 1991 for Montreal, is the Astros’ bullpen coach.

“We’re lucky enough to have two people in our clubhouse in Dennis Martinez and Philip Humber that have accomplished that feat,” Porter said.

Porter was grateful for Pierzynski to accommodate the ceremony by getting on the phone at 7 a.m. MT.

“I talked to him this morning and the timing worked perfect and he was able to get on the phone,” Porter said. “He led the toast and we toasted Philip and it was fun for the group.”

Other things we learned Thursday morning:

  • You have noticed on the photos the Astros don’t have their names on their backs this spring. That’s by design. Manager Bo Porter wants them to earn their names, which will be placed on the jerseys on Opening Day. More on that later.
  • In an effort to try to establish some camaraderie in the clubhouse, Porter is going to start having food delivered to the clubhouse following each workout. He hopes that will encourage players to sit around and talk and get to know each other more.
  • Position players continue to trickle into Kissimmee. Former first-round Draft picks George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr. arrived to camp on Thursday. This will be their second Major League camp, and the two friends are roommates again this year. Catcher Carlos Perez, who was held up on visa issues, could arrive Thursday, too.
  • The Astros have added Minor League catcher Ryan McCurdy to their spring roster as another body to catch bullpens. He will wear No. 98.

Here are a couple of quick morning photos from Kissimmee:

Lucas Harrell keeps things loose as always.

Lucas Harrell keeps things loose as always.

Harrell and Keuchel talk to Jason Castro.

Harrell and Dallas Keuchel talk to Jason Castro.

Porter visits with veterans about leadership

Astros manager Bo Porter met with a group of players prior to Wednesday morning’s workout that he wants to take a leadership role on the club this spring. The meeting, which Porter dubbed “Astros Talk,” included Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Jason Jaramillo, Erik Bedard, Bud Norris, Philip Humber, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Jose Veras and Edgar Gonzalez.

“We talked about leadership, and there’s a reason why I picked those guys,” he said. “Some of those guys have been on other teams where obviously it hasn’t been the situation we have here where we have a lot of young guys, and a lot of times these guys have been on teams and they have been the young guys.

“They now find themselves in a situation they become the older spokesmen. Like I said to them, I want to make sure we’re all on one sheet of music and we understand what leadership is all about and how you can effectively lead. If they had any questions, I wanted to be available for them to answer those questions to make sure we’re on one accord.”

Most baseball names don’t have a captain as in some other sports. The Yankees are one team that has traditionally identified a singular captain. Porter doesn’t plan to do that in Houston. Instead, he’s giving the responsibility of leader the younger players to those with the most service time.

“I explained to them, we’re not looking for one leader,” Porter said. “We’re looking for a group of leaders, because I’m a firm believer that leaders have to exist in every area, every level of the organization if you want the organization to continue to grow and continue to thrive. And the leaders have to develop the next wave of leaders. We’re not looking for one; we’re looking for a group.”

The first injury of camp was reported Wednesday morning when catcher Max Stassi, acquired in last week’s trade with Oakland, was diagnosed with a strained oblique. He will be held out of drills Wednesday.

“We’re going to pull him back a little bit as far as his workload goes,” Porter said. “He kind of tweaked his oblique a little bit.”

Here are a couple of quick morning photos:

Third base coach Dave Trembley is always smiling as he is here talking with Dave Clark and Dennis Martinez.

Third base coach Dave Trembley is always upbeat as he is here talking with Eduardo Perez and Dennis Martinez.

Bud Norris stretches prior to workout.

Bud Norris stretches prior to workout.

Humber ‘excited’ to return to Houston

Philip Humber, the former Rice University star pitcher who threw a perfect game last season for the White Sox, was claimed off waivers Friday by the Astros, who signed him to a one-year deal with a club option for 2014.

Humber, 29, went 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 games (16 starts) for Chicago and is expected to battle for one of the final two spots in the Astros’ pitching rotation. He lives with his family in Tyler, Texas, which is 175 miles north of Houston.  Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow delivered the news to Humber via phone earlier in the day.

“It’s really exciting, more so for my family than anything,” Humber told MLB.com. “The places I’ve played before, they haven’t been able to see me but a little bit, but I’ll be right up the road no now in Houston. So we’re excited about it. My wife and I have a little baby and it will make it easier on them as far as traveling and everything. I think it’s going to be a good situation.”

The proximity to his home is a bonus, but a move to the Astros comes with plenty of opportunity as they prepare to move into the American League in 2013.

“As far as the way things went last year – there were obviously some extreme highs and getting hurt and not pitching the way I was capable of – I’m excited about the opportunity to get back out there and prove I’m capable of being a good Major League pitcher,” he said.

In 80 career Major League appearances (44 starts), Humber is 16-15 with a 4.87 ERA.

Prior to his professional career, Humber had an outstanding career at Rice. He was a member of the Owls 2003 national championship team, hurling a complete-game in the championship game vs. Stanford. Humber also earned First-Team All-America honors in 2004 and currently ranks second in school history in strikeouts and third in wins.

More from Humber to come at Astros.com

Humber coming home to Astros

Philip Humber, the former Rice star who last season pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox, was claimed off waivers by the Astros on Friday.

Humber, 29, went 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 games (16 starts) for the White Sox last season, but etched him name in history on April 21 when he threw the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history – two months before Matt Cain threw a perfect game against the Astros.

But Humber struggled after his perfect game and wound up pitching only twice in September. The third overall pick in the 2004 Draft, Humber is 16-15 with a 4.87 ERA in 80 career games, including 44 as a starter. He was 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 28 games for the While Sox in 2011.

Humber threw a complete game to beat Stanford in the 2003 championship game of the College World Series to give Rice its only national title.

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