Results tagged ‘ pictures ’

To the victors go the spoils…and banana splits

The Astros have spent all spring practicing their post-game handshakes, and on Thursday they got a chance to work on their walk-off win celebration.

Brandon Laird’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning capped a four-run rally to send Team Ensberg to a 5-4 win over Team Everett in an intrasquad game at Osceola County Stadium.

“Never say die with the ‘Stros,” manager Bo Porter said. “That’s outstanding. It was a great comeback with a lot of energy. It served a great purpose. They played the game the way it’s supposed to be played and took advantage of mistakes the other team made.”

Morgan Ensberg said: “Our motto the whole time is ‘That’s what we do, we win.’ I’ll be honest with you. It was the young guys that did it. Delino DeShields had some huge hits. Jake [Goebbert] in the bottom of the seventh hits the triple to tie it up. Chris Carter gets a couple of hits and Brandon Laird gets a couple of hits, and all of a sudden we’re partying on the field.”

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The losing team had to serve banana splits to the winning team.

“You want to turn it into a little bit of fun,” Porter said. “These guys have worked hard this entire camp and now we’re getting ready to play against opponents… We put a small wager on the line, something we all like — ice cream and banana splits.”

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Ensberg called it the biggest win of his managerial career, which isn’t hard to do when it’s your first game.

“The thing that’s impressive about it is my managerial style hurts the players, and the fact they could do something positive with me in the dugout is a testament to their mental fortitude,” he joked.

Here are the pictures from the intrasquad:

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Astros new radio team of Robert Ford and Steve Sparks.

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Coach Morgan Ensberg has already earned a name on his back.

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Players watch from the dugout.

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Carlos Corporan.

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Brandon Barnes connects.

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Jake Elmore.

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Brett Wallace

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Chris Carter.

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Vince Coleman.

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Chris Carter.

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Adam Everett.

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Bo Porter watches intrasquad.

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Veterans Jason Castro, Tyler Greene, Brett Wallace and Wesley Wright.

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To the victors go the spoils.

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.

New-look Astros kick off a new era

The smell of fresh paint, new carpeting in the clubhouse and sharp new uniforms hanging neatly in the lockers of the players were all reminders these are not your grandfather’s Astros. In fact, they’re pretty far removed from the 2012 Astros.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Osceola County Stadium on Monday morning to shake hands, take physicals and get in a light workout, the Astros cranked up their first Spring Training as an American League club. New manager Bo Porter will have to wait until Tuesday to see the pitchers and catchers hit the field for the first official workout, but the start is near.

“I’m extremely anxious,” Porter said. “You spend your whole offseason waiting for this day to come and now that it’s here, obviously there’s a lot of anticipating of getting with the guys and you can see the excitement in their eyes. We’re just ready to get on the field and get started.”

Right-hander Philip Humber is one of 39 new faces to camp this year after spending last year with the White Sox. The Texas native was thrilled to pull on his No. 59 jersey.

“It’s that time of year when you’ve done everything you need to do to prepare for Spring Training and a new season and you start getting that itch it’s time to start putting everything you’ve done in the offseason to work,” he said. “I’m excited to be here, excited to meet all these new faces and just get started playing baseball.”

Many position players have already reported, well ahead of Friday’s official report date. All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve arrived in Florida on Saturday. Also spotted Monday morning were Brett Wallace, Matt Dominguez, J.D. Martinez, Brandon Barnes, Justin Maxwell, Jake Elmore and Marc Krauss.

“I feel really good, and I wanted to get here a little early to get ready and prepare the right way to star the season,” Altuve said.

Here are some morning pictures:

Sign as you enter the clubhouse.

Sign as you enter the clubhouse.

Worker gets the field ready.

Worker gets the field ready.

Astros manager Bo Porter reports for work.

Astros manager Bo Porter reports for work.

new uniforms hung neatly in lockers.

New uniforms hung neatly in lockers.

Wes Wright unloads a box while talking to Lucas Harrell.

Wes Wright unloads a box while talking to Lucas Harrell.

More motivation for the players, courtesy of Bo Porter.

More motivation for the players, courtesy of Bo Porter.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo emerges from clubhouse.

Catcher Jason Jaramillo emerges from clubhouse.

Jason Castro on his way to the field.

Jason Castro on his way to the field.

Bo Porter talks to the media in the morning.

Bo Porter talks to the media in the morning.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail and pitchers prepare to stretch.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail and pitchers prepare to stretch.

Luhnow, others receive championship rings

Former Cardinals front-office employees Mike Elias, Sig Mejdal and Jeff Luhnow receive their 2011 World Series championship rings on Wednesday.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and special assistant to the GM/scouting Mike Elias each received their 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series rings prior to Wednesday’s game at Minute Maid Park.

Astros bench coach Joe Pettini, who was former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s right-hand man for 10 years, received his in the clubhouse a few moments earlier.

The rings were presented by Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozielak in Luhnow’s booth. For Luhnow, it’s 10th ring in either the Minors or the Majors while with the Cardinals.

“We work hard in this industry, we work long hours and the reward is when you get win a championship,” said Luhnow, who was hired from the Cardinals in December and quickly brought Mejdal and Elias to Houston. “The celebration and being able to get hardware like this is why we do this, why we’re in this industry. I was glad to be a part of it, and I can’t wait until we do the same thing here in Houston. That’s my ultimate goal.”

DeWitt, who hired Luhnow into the industry in 2003, was pleased to be able to present his former employees with the hardware.

“We’re really pleased to be herd and these guys did such a great job for us,” Dewitt said. “We’re happy to come up here and personally present it. It’s a great honor for us to come do it, and they deserve it.”

Dewitt expects Luhnow to be successful in Houston.

“He’s had a great start with the Draft,” Dewitt said. “We’re all very impressed with that. We hated to lose all of them, but that will speak well for Houston over the years. I’m sure [the Astros] will have a good team before long.”

Elias worked under Luhnow from 2007-11 and as area scout and later as manager of amateur scouting with crosschecking responsibilities. Mejdal worked with the Cardinals from 2005-11, most recently as director of amateur draft analytics.

“It’s a great reminder of the five years with the Cardinals and everything we exprerineced there,” Elias said. “They gave me my first opportunity in baseball – Jeff, Sig, Mo and Mr. DeWitt – and this is probably the best keepsake you could have from something like that. There’s a lot of pride in wearing it.”

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak present Astros GM Jeff Luhnow with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow shows off his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak present Astros director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak presented Astros assistant to the GM/scouting Mike Elias with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Mills sporting a black eye and a new watch

The Astros worked out on the stadium field at the Osceola County Stadium complex for the first time Friday morning in anticipation of Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Washington Nationals.

Before the players began to stretch, manager Brad Mills addressed the team and lauded non-roster outfielder Brandon Barnes for presenting him earlier in the morning with a Transformers watch. Mills’ watch was shattered and he suffered a black eye Wednesday when a ball came through the netting behind the cage and struck him.

“That’s pretty good for a young kid to do that,” Mills said. “I told the guys if we screw up on the time today, it’s Brandon’s fault, because of the Transformers watch.”

Here’s the latest on the Astros:

  • LHP Sergio Escalona, who injured his throwing elbow swinging a bat last week, will be shut down for a few days, Mills said. Escalona had an MRI on Thursday, which showed no structural damage.
  • Mills announced the next two starters in his rotation following Livan Hernandez (Saturday), J.A. Happ (Sunday) and Jordan Lyles (Monday).  Wandy Rodriguez will start Tuesday against the Mets, and Bud Norris will start Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater.
  • Among the relievers scheduled to pitch behind Hernandez on Saturday are Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon, who will be pitching in a game for the first time since May. Myers will throw one inning in his debut as Astros closer (he won’t pitch the ninth, however).
  • The batting order has yet to be announced, but Mills revealed his starters for Saturday’s game against the Nats: Chris Johnson (third base), Jed Lowrie (shortstop), Jose Altuve (second base), Carlos Lee (first base), J.B. Shuck (left field), Jason Bourgeois (center field), Travis Buck (right field), Castro (catcher) and Jack Cust (DH).
  • Third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who’s nursing a sore left wrist, took batting practice left-handed Thursday, but is still not cleared to swing right from the right side of the plate.
  • Castro, who missed all of last year following knee surgery and then had foot surgery in December, will catch only three innings Saturday. Mills said he’d like Castro to catch three more innings Monday and then perhaps four on Wednesday, depending on how he feels.

Players gather to stretch on the stadium field for the first time

Mills in favor of extra playoff team

Add Astros manager Brad Mills to the list of people that like the idea of baseball perhaps adding another team to the playoffs.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are working toward a Thursday deadline to expand the playoffs by adding two additional Wild Card teams overall, creating a one-game first-round playoff in each league, beginning with the 2012 postseason.

“It’s going to be good for the all the fans,” said Mills, who spent six years as bench coach of the Red Sox before coming to Houston. “Even though you’re adding one more spot, you’re creating a lot of interest for more teams in both leagues.  I’m definitely in favor of that. If I’m not mistaken, it’s going to be a one-game playoff, and those are always fun.”

By the way, the Astros would have made the playoffs in 1995 had the two Wild Card teams in each league been in effect.

Astros left-handed relief pitcher Sergio Escalona, who injured his elbow swinging a bat early in camp, was examined by team doctors Thursday and was scheduled to undergo an MRI, manager Brad Mills said.

Escalona’s elbow didn’t respond as well as the Astros would like following his live batting practice session Wednesday.

“Escalona’s arm, after he threw yesterday, just wasn’t where he feels it needs to be and really our doctors and staff feels it needs to be,” Mills said. “We’re going to get him some more tests on that to see where he’s at, so he’s probably not going to throw for a while with that.”

Here is the day in pictures:

Brett Wallace follows through.

J.D. Martinez takes a break to laugh during BP.

Bud Norris fires a pitch during live BP.

Jed Lowrie, Travis Buck and bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte.

Fernando Rodriguez warms up in the bullpen.

 

 

Lee reports as full squad hits the field

After listening to speeches from owner Jim Crane, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Brad Mills, 63 Astros players hit the field for the first full-squad workout of the spring. The Astros have a week to get up to speed before opening Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

Among those on the field for the first time Sunday was Carlos Lee, who’s in the final year of his six-year, $100-million contract and likely his final season in Houston

Lee, 35, batted .275 with 18 homers and 94 RBIs in 155 games last year, and he hasn’t put up the same kind of numbers the last two seasons as did during his first three years in Houston when he hit .306 and averaged 29 homers and 107 RBIs.

“Last year, I started really slow, but I kind of figured it out and worked hard on my hitting and had a great second half,” he said. “I did what I’m capable of doing. Hopefully we take off in the same condition I was last year hitting the ball like I normally do.”

Crane made news when he told reporters the Astros would likely change uniforms next year.

Here is the day in photos, with an emphasis in smiles and autographs:

Astros owner Jim Crane and principal owner Bill Morgan stroll the back fields.

Jim Crane addresses reporters, saying team will likely change uniforms.

Juan Abreu rocks and fires in the bullpen.

Fernando Rodriguez signs autographs, chats with fans.

Jose Altuve, Travis Buck and Humberto Quintero await facing live pitching.

Travis Buck and Minor League baserunning coordinator Milt Thompson share a laugh.

J.D. Martinez laughs at the batting cage.

Kyle Weiland throws a round of living batting practice.

Aneury Rodriguez signs autographs.

A line of fans await Zach Duke's signature.

Sergio Escalona throws in the bullpen with Doug Brocail watching.

Lyles hoping to get more out of his frame

Minor League pitching coordinator Jon Matlack took some extra time following workouts Friday to have a one-on-one, hands-on session with 21-year-old right-hander Jordan Lyles on one of the pitching mounds.

“We’re just tweaking some things that people have seen in my delivery that maybe there’s more energy I can put into it and the velocity would be greater,” Lyles said. “We were really bouncing thoughts off of each other and he was asking me what am I thinking, what am I doing. He’s trying to get the most out of my frame and my delivery.”

Matlack was a three-time All-Star hurler in a playing career that spanned 13 seasons. He also served as Detroit’s Major League pitching coach in 1996 and spent eight seasons as a Minor League pitching coach with the White Sox and Padres. The Tigers let him go in August.

For more on Lyles and the rest of the news of the day, including some health updates and what Cesar Cedeno is up to, click here.

And don’t forget to read my feature on newcomer Kyle Weiland.

Here is Friday in pictures:

Zach Duke in a "what now?" pose.

Pitcher Paul Clemens practices his sliding.

At least Lance Berkman's old number went to another native Texan -- Justin Ruggiano.

Bud Norris playfully claps at a teammate's sliding attempt.

Arcenio Leon throws a ball during PFPs.

Jason Bourgeois takes a cut during BP.

Pitching coach Doug Brocail throws to Kyle Weiland covering first.

Matt Downs reported and stretched.

Astros get a look at more new pitchers

The second day of pitcher and catcher workouts went off without a hitch, with Astros manager Brad Mills getting his first look at pitchers like Rhiner Cruz, Livan Hernandez and Paul Clemens when they threw in the bullpen for the first time.

“Watching the guys throw, that’s always the biggest thing,” Mills said. “I thought Rhiner Cruz threw the ball really well. I thought Bud Norris threw the ball well and Paul Clemens, too. Livan’s command of his pitches was pretty impressive. The guys are doing the things to get themselves ready. Today was a much better day. Guys knew better where to go and what to do.”

General manager Jeff Luhnow was impressed with Clemens, who came to the Astros in the Michael Bourn trade.

“He’s got a big arm,” he said. “We’re going to develop him as a starter. My philosophy for the better arms is until they prove to us they don’t have three pitches and don’t have command to start, we’re going to start them, and it looks like [Clemens] has got everything he needs.”

Let’s get right to the photos:

Brad Mills hits rag balls to the pitchers.

Catchers lined up in the bullpen.

Side-armer Rhiner Cruz fires a pitch as GM Jeff Luhnow and special assistant Mike Elias watch.

Lucas Harrell throws a pitch with a bunch of folks watching.

Bench coach Joe Pettini hits a rag ball at the pitchers.

Lucas Harrell gets some tips from pitching coach Doug Brocail.

Paul Clemens fires towards home plate.

Mike Kvasnicka and roving Minor League catching instructor Danny Sheaffer.

Chris Snyder and Bud Norris shake hands after working together for the first time.

Carlos Corporan prepraes to swing in the batting cage.

Pictures of the Astros in Toronto

With social media phenom Alyson Footer sitting this trip out, I thought I would take the opportunity to step into her shoes and post some batting practice pictures:

You recognize that guy! That's Astros Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton before calling a game in his 59th ballpark. Quite an achievement

Jays OF Corey Patterson talks to Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn.

Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, formerly of the Jays, talks to Toronto media

The Jays had it really rolling for a while

Astros manager Brad Mills visits with Jays manager John Farrell

Clint Barmes, Brian Bogusevic and Chris Johnson wait for BP to start

Astros pitchers stretch on the field

Rogers Centre roof slides open. That part on left slides in between the two parts on the right. A modern marvel, if you ask me

These gals came all the way from Houston to watch the Astros. Talk about die-hard fans!

The CN Tower soars high over Rogers Centre

Chris Johnson reads off the Astros starting lineup for the camera

Astros position players yuck it up as the roof begins to slide open

Michael Bourn and Jason Bourgeois talk before BP

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