Results tagged ‘ Rangers ’
Any hopes Astros fans had of Lance Berkman returning to Houston to finish his career were ended Saturday when the slugger told MLB.com he had agreed to a one-year contract with a vesting option for 2014 to become the designated hitter for the Texas Rangers.
Berkman, who played for the Astros from 1999-2010 and for the Cardinals the previous two seasons, was mulling retirement before the Rangers made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He’ll remain in the Astros’ division – the American League West – and the teams will meet on Opening Day in Houston on March 31 on ESPN.
The Astros had several conversations about bringing Berkman back, but he said Saturday a formal offer had never been made and that Houston wasn’t quite the right fit. Houston signed Carlos Pena to be its designed hitter last month.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the Astros organization and the way our negotiations went,” he said. “I understand they’re in a position they have a lot of young players they’d like to get Major League experience, and with the signing of Carlos Pena, that kind of takes care of their DH spot. The fit wasn’t quite right, but I still harbor an extreme amount of good will towards the Astros organization, and I hope to continue that relationship on down the road.”
In November, Berkman initiated a meeting with Astros owner Jim Crane to talk about the team and get to know each other better, and he also had lunch with new manager Bo Porter and had some recent conversations with general manager Jeff Luhnow.
“We talked general range, but they never said ‘Hey, we’ll give you X,’” Berkman said. “I met with Bo Porter and met with Mr. Crane and talked with Mr. Luhnow several times on the phone. We kind of talked parameters, but it never really got past the tire-kicking phase.
“They were very candid and very honest what their goals were as an organization. With where they’re at and what they have planned with their young guys, it didn’t make a whole of sense to get to the Rangers’ level financially. I understand that and I feel nothing but good things towards the Astros organization.”
Berkman said the bum knee that limited his playing time last season has healed enough to where he believes he can provide solid production from the DH spot this year. But there were several things that drew him to Arlington.
“One is the opportunity to DH,” he said. “I think that’s going to be really good for me from a physical standpoint in terms of staying healthy for a full year and obviously geography – I’m a Texas guy all the way – so I could get back to my home state, and being close to home is huge for me and my family. I think the Rangers have an excellent chance to win. I think they have a very solid team, so all those things kind of add up and it makes a lot of sense.”
Berkman, who turns 37 on Feb. 10, was considering retirement after an injury-plagued 2012 with the Cardinals. He underwent two surgeries on his right knee and played 32 games, hitting .259 with an .826 OPS, two home runs and seven RBIs. Berkman appeared in only six games and started two after July 29 and was left off St. Louis’ playoff roster.
“In my mind, I was retired,” he said. “I really felt like I wasn’t going to play and then as I got further into the offseason my knee started to feel better, and the Rangers made me a real strong offer. That sort of got my interest piqued and it just kind of went from there.
“I’m glad that they reached out to me when they did and it kind of worked out. I always told myself I was going to leave the possibility of returning open and let the Lord dictate whether it was time or walk away or there was an opportunity that made sense to keep going. Obviously, this is an opportunity that made a lot of sense.”
The Astros will begin the 2013 season at 7 p.m. CT on March 31 against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park – two days earlier than previously scheduled – to accommodate the game being televised nationally on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The full schedule can be seen here.
The game will mark Houston’s debut in the American League after playing the first 51 years of its existence in the National League. It will also be the debut for Astros manager Bo Porter and will be the first look at the team in their new blue and orange uniforms.
Prior to facing the Rangers on Opening Day, the Astros will play two exhibition games against the Cubs at Minute Maid Park on March 29 and March 30.
The Astros were originally scheduled to open the season on Tuesday, April 2 against the Rangers with the series continuing on April 3 and April 4. Instead, the Astros will have off days April 1 and April 4 before the A’s come to town for a weekend series.
The Astros will open at home for the 29th time in the last 35 years.
Astros pitchers and catchers will report for Spring Training in Kissimmee, Fla., on Feb. 11 and work out for the first time on Feb. 12. The report date for position players is Feb. 15, with the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 16. Houston will open Grapefruit League play Feb. 23 against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.
Coming off a two-game sweep of the Brewers, the Astros open Interleague Play tonight at Minute Maid Park against the high-flying Texas Rangers, who lead the American League West with a 24-15 record. The Rangers have dominated the Astros in recent years, going 14-4 against the Astros from 2009-11. The Astros haven’t won the Silver Boot since going 4-2 against the Rangers in 2006.
Here is the Astros’ lineup:
CF Jordan Schafer
2B Jose Altuve
LF J.D. Martinez
1B Carlos Lee
SS Jed Lowrie
RF Brian Bogusevic
3B Chris Johnson
C Jason Castro
P Wandy Rodriguez
Here are the pitching matchups:
Fri., 7:05 p.m. — LHP Wandy Rodriguez (3-3, 1.99) vs. RHP Neftali Feliz (3-1, 3.32)
Sat., 6:15 p.m. — RHP Lucas Harrell (2-3, 4.40) vs. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 3.78)
Sun., 1:05 p.m. — RHP Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (3-3, 3.63)
Here are some fun facts:
- With the Astros’ pending move to the American League in 2013, this will be the final season these teams will meet in Interleague Play. Since they first met in 2001, no Interleague series has featured more games. And the Rangers-Astros clash is the only one below that doesn’t feature cross-town (or cross-bay) rivals:
Angels vs. Dodgers, 66 (41-25)
Yankees vs. Mets, 66 (38-28)
Rangers vs. Astros, 66 (37-29)
White Sox vs. Cubs, 66 (36-30)
Athletics vs. Giants, 66 (35-31)
- The Astros were 78-71 overall in Interleague Play from 1997-2006, but are just 29-52 against the American League since. Conversely, the Rangers were 82-94 in Interleague Play between 1997-06 and have gone 53-37 against the National League since.
- The Rangers have won 14 of the last 18 meetings between the two Texas teams after going 23-25 against Houston through the 2008 season.
- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve comes up empty only once in every 13 pitches he swings at, which is the second-best ratio in the league behind Marco Scutaro (16.6). The Major League average is 4.6 misses per every swing.
- With a home run Wednesday, Astros first baseman Carlos Lee has as many extra-base hits as strikeouts (9) in 2012. He’s one of the few Astros in team history with a positive differential overall (plus-25). Jesus Alou was a plus-21 and Moises Alou was a plus-7.
- The Astros have averaged more than two runs per game higher when Brian Bogusevic has started in right field. The team is 15-13 and averaging 4.75 runs per game when Bogusevic starts in right and 2-8 and averaging 2.6 runs when anyone else starts in right.
- Through his first eight starts of 2012, Astros ace Wandy Rodriguez has been much more efficient than he was last year, averaging two and a half fewer pitches per inning. He threw 16.5 pitches per inning in 2011, which ranked 77th among 94 qualifiers. This year, he’s averaging 13.9 pitches per inning, which ranks fourth among 118 qualifiers.
- Rangers slugger Adrian Beltre is hitting .358 with 20 runs, eight doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs in wins and batting .162 with one RBI in losses.
- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who doesn’t turn 24 until Aug. 26, has exactly 100 more career hits than any other player who is currently 23 or younger. Andrus has 496 career hits. Next on the list are Starlin Castro (396), Jason Heyward (266) and Giancarlo Stanton (266).
- As you might suspect from someone who is making the transition from closer to starter, Rangers starter Neftali Feliz has tended to be at his best early in his outings. Opponents are hitting .121 against him on pitches 1-45 and .240 against him on pitches 46-plus.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan held court with the Houston media prior to Wednesday’s game against the Astros at Minute Maid Park and said he would be in favor of the Astros joining the American League West if baseball decides to realign.
The Astros, according to reports earlier this month, are one of the teams being discussed as a candidate to change divisions, and perhaps even switch to the American League, if realignment is part of a new labor agreement between Major League Baseball this winter.
Ryan likes the idea of having at least one Central Time Zone in the same division as the Rangers as well as the three West Coast teams.
“We’re at a disadvantage with our television audience of having to go west so I would be in favor of adding somebody from our time zone,” Ryan said. “I think having the Astros and the Rangers in the same pennant race would really stimulate interest in baseball in the state of Texas. If it is in the best interests of the Rangers, we’d be for it.”
As far as the Astros’ impending ownership change to a group led by Jim Crane, Ryan said Crane is going to have to be patient. Ryan and his group outbid a group led by Crane and Mark Cuban to try to by the Rangers last year. Crane’s group is expected to be approved by Major League Baseball in late July or early August.
“With so many players, you’re going to have your ups and downs,” Ryan said. “You don’t do that overnight. You just have to keep as many players as possible in the pipeline because all sorts of things will happen like injuries and those types of things.”
The Astros (28-51) try to break a three-game losing streak tonight at Minute Maid Park against the Rangers, who took two of three games from Houston last week in Arlington. Jordan Lyles pitches for the Astros against left-hander C.J. Wilson in a rematch from the June 21 game in Arlington.
Here is the Astros’ lineup:
LF Jason Bourgeois — Hitting .436 against left-handers this year.
CF Michael Bourn — Has hits in 21 of his last 25 games.
RF Hunter Pence — Sixth in the league in RBIs and batting average.
1B Carlos Lee — Hitting .310 since May 1.
2B Jeff Keppinger — Hitting .480 in 25 at-bats against LHPs this year.
3B Chris Johnson — Has hit safely in 13 of last 14 games.
SS Clint Barmes — His .986 fielding percentage fourth in Majors at SS.
C Carlos Corporan — This will be his 13th start in 16 games.
RHP Jordan Lyles — Still awaiting his first Major League win.
Jordan Lyles, the youngest player in the Major Leagues, was denied his first big league victory Tuesday when the Astros bullpen coughed up its 15th blown save of the year, which is a Major League high. Lyles pitched well once again, allowing seven hits and three runs in seven innings in his fifth start.
The Astros led, 4-3, when Lyles left the game and the Rangers eventually won, 5-4, in extra innings on Mitch Moreland’s walk-off homer in the 11th. Lyles allowed solo homers to Michael Young in the second and Nelson Cruz in the fourth, and an RBI triple by Endy Chavez in the seventh.
Despite delivering his third quality start, Lyles had a hard time seeing beyond the Astros’ 14th loss in 18 games.
“First of all, we got a loss, so no, not really,” he said. “But I stayed away from crooked numbers. If I’m going to give them up [home runs], glad no one is on base. That was the positive side.
“The one to Michael I just left over the plate. Great hitter. Makes me pay for that and he did. The one to Cruz initially I didn’t think I got it down enough, but I saw the replay and it wasn’t too bad of a pitch, I think. It’s more of a good hitter putting a good swing on it.”
Astros manager Brad Mills was understandably impressed with his young pitcher.
“He did a great job,” he said. “I know he gave up a couple of home runs, but it was sure nice to see him jump right back in there after he gave up the home runs. A lot of young guys can kind of let that get to them, but he didn’t. He came right back after hitters and really did a good job through seven. He battled and kept his pitch count down and really gave us a chance to win the game.”
Lyles said the Rangers’ lineup posted his biggest challenge to date.
“It’s a great lineup,” he said. “By far the best I’ve seen. Just make sure you stay a little bit more focused than you would with a regular lineup because they’ll put up a four spot in no time. You can’t let up any time with any lineup, but this one will make you pay for it in short time. You’ve just got to stay a little bit more focused and just make your pitches and attack the lower half of the strike zone and hopefully they hit it at someone.”
In his previous start against the Pirates, Lyles allowed a three-run homer in the first inning and then retired 15 in a row. He said he came out determined to have a clean first inning.
“I wanted to attack the first inning and not go out there and feel my way through it,” he said. “I wanted to get ready in the bullpen and attack from strike zone, from the first batter.”
Lyles is relatively new to the Astros’ late-inning struggles, but he said all the right things post-game to reporters and showed poise.
“No one wants to lose,” he said. “Guys are going out there trying the best to get guys out, but sometimes it just doesn’t fall the way you want it to. Sometimes they don’t hit it at people. Just baseball, and we’ll bounce back. We’re not going to change anything we’ve been doing. I think we’ve been playing pretty good. Make a couple of pitches here, a couple of more extra hits and we can turn it around.”
Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who hasn’t played since Friday because of a sprained left elbow, likely won’t return to the lineup until Friday’s series opener against the Rays at Minute Maid Park.
Pence showed up at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday unable to swing a bat because of discomfort in the elbow. He said team doctors told him last weekend he would likely miss the Rangers series, and that will likely be the case.
“It’s just not ready to swing,” he said. “It’s close, very close, but I’m not ready. There’s really no way other to say I can’t really swing. Until I can, I don’t know how you can really play. I’m going to wait until it’s ready so I can play. I’m going to play hard and play good.”
With the Astros having a day off Thursday, manager Brad Mills said it would probably be best for Pence to be held out of the lineup until Friday. Pence leads the club in batting average, home runs and RBIs.
“Unless all of a sudden he shows up and he’s able to swing and everything’s fine,” Mills said. “I don’t see that happening after talking with him today and how sore he was today.”
The good news for Pence is doctors have told him he can’t do anymore damage to the elbow that he currently has. An MRI performed on Sunday showed no tears or ligament damage.
Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who missed his third consecutive game Monday with a sprained left elbow, is expected to return to the lineup in Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.
Pence, who suffered the injury Friday in Los Angeles, felt so encouraged Monday that he was able to take some swings in the batting cage. He was able to straighten out his elbow Monday for the first time since suffering the injury trying to slide into first base.
“It feels good,” Pence said. “From where I was, the inflammation was in there and we detected what the problem was. It’s like a sprained ankle on the elbow. I know it’s feeling pretty good and I’m pretty optimistic about getting back soon.”
Pence, entered Monday tied for fourth in the NL with 51 RBIs, tied for second with 93 hits and ranked fourth with a .321 batting average. Astros manager Brad Mills said he expects Pence to be in the lineup Tuesday.
“He wants to play, he wants to get in there, and the doctors and trainers feel that one more day will be extremely beneficial for him,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do, is to get him one more day. Hopefully he can get in there tomorrow.”
If you’re pumped up about Rangers third baseman Michael Young listing the Astros as one of the teams he would approve being traded to, forget it.
My colleague T.R. Sullivan reported Monday night Young had listed the Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels and Padres as destinations to which he would approve a trade. While Young would like to wind up in Houston, the feeling isn’t mutual.
Not that the Astros don’t like Young’s tools and track record, but Young’s hefty contract would be too much for the Astros to take on. Astros general manager Ed Wade declined to comment on Young, citing a policy of not talking about trades.
Young, who asked the Rangers to trade him, is 34 years old and is due $48 million over the next three years and there’s a ton of deferred money that’s to be paid out with interest over the next few years, so it’s hard to blame the Astros for not exploring a trade with Texas.
Even so, trading for Young would go against everything the Astros have done the last few months. They’re in a mode of adding young players at the expense of older, more pricey players, and picking up a 34-year-old third baseman doesn’t fit that plan.
The Astros wrap Interleague Play on Sunday night by sending Roy Oswalt to the mound against the Texas Rangers. The Astros are 3-11 in Interleague play, having gone 1-2 against Tampa Bay, 0-3 at the Yankees, 1-2 at Kansas City and 1-4 against the Rangers heading into Sunday’s series finale at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Astros are 12-12 this month: 10-3 against National League teams and 2-9 against the American League.
Oswalt (5-9, 3.08 ERA) is two wins shy of tying Joe Niekro’s club record of 144 wins. He’s 4-1 in five road starts this year with a 1.50 ERA and has tossed at least seven innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his five starts away from home.
Here are the lineups:
CF Michael Bourn
LF Jason Bourgeois
1B Lance Berkman
DH Carlos Lee
RF Jason Michaels
2B Geoff Blum
3B Chris Johnson
C Jason Castro
SS Oswaldo Navarro
RHP Roy Oswalt (5-9, 3.08 ERA)
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
2B Ian Kinsler
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Justin Smoak
C Matt Treanor
CF Julio Borbon
RHP Tommy Hunter (3-0, 2.31 ERA)