Results tagged ‘ Rick Ankiel ’

Astros shape the look of their outfield

Outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez were designated for assignment Monday, likely bringing an end to their tenure in Houston. The Astros also optioned infielder Brandon Laird to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe and infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes, as well was reinstating outfielder J.D. Martinez from the disabled list. </p>

Crowe, J.D. Martinez and Paredes will join the Astros before Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Ankiel has enough service time to refuse a Minor League assignment, at which point he would probably be released. The Astros have 10 days to decide what to do with Fernando Martinez, who will be released, traded or sent to the Minor Leagues if he passes through waivers.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow had high hopes for Ankiel, who he watched blossom into a potent outfielder while both were with the Cardinals. Ankiel hit just .194 in 25 games with five homers, 11 RBIs and a whopping 35 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.

“Rick Ankiel is a class guy, and I really like him both as a baseball player and as a person,” Luhnow said. “We brought him in here to help our younger kids, to mentor them and help out on the field. I really appreciate everything he did for us. The reality is the team is not where we wanted to be at this point and we feel like outfield is one of our weakest positions, and we wanted to give some guys who are having some success at Triple-A a chance to continue that up here.”

Luhnow met with manager Bo Porter on Monday at Minute Maid Park and went over the roster, and the general manager said the moves were made to fill some specific needs and not a shake-up of a club that’s lost 10 of 11 games and is 8-24.

“We sat down today and really talked about the mix of the team and what was available to us in Triple-A,” Luhnow said. “This is more of a testament about how Jimmy’s been doing in Triple-A, how Trevor’s been doing in Triple-A and wanting J.D. back. We weren’t making changes for the sake of making changes.”

Luhnow acknowledged the club also talked about the status of struggling starting pitcher Philip Humber, but Luhnow deferred to Porter.

Crowe is hitting .300 (33-for-110) in 29 games for Oklahoma City in 29 games this season, clubbing two homers and driving in 14 runs while stealing a team-high 11 bases. Crowe, a former first-round Draft pick by the Indians who’s appeared in 205 Major League games, was signed by the Astros this offseason as a Minor League free agent.

Paredes entered Monday hitting a team-high .376 (41-for-109) in 29 games for Oklahoma City, which ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League, with a 1.040 OPS. Paredes has started at third base and in right field this season for the RedHawks and remains raw on defense.

J.D. Martinez, out since April 20 with a right knee sprain, hit .300 in five games on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. He played in 14 games, including 12 starts, for the Astros before heading to the disabled list.

Fernando Martinez, who had trouble staying healthy, was hitting .182 with a homer and three RBIs in 11 games, while Laird was batting .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 11 games

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.

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Ankiel to compete for spot with Astros

Rick Ankiel, the pitcher-turned-outfielder who belted 25 homers for the Cardinals in 2008, will be coming to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee for the Astros.

Ankiel, 33, has hit 69 homers in 1,793 career Major League at-bats with the Cardinals, Royals, Braves and Nationals, where he spent the last two years. He possesses a tremendous arm, not surprising considering he came up as a pitcher.

Ankiel won 13 games for the Cardinals, mostly from 1999-2001. He was 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 games (30 starts in 2000), but his sudden inability to throw strikes forced him to try his hand as a hitter.

Ankiel will be reunited with Astros manager Bo Porter, who came from Washington, and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who worked in the Cardinals front office from 2003-11.

“He can play all three outfield positions,” Luhnow said. “He’s got a plus-plus arm and plays good defensively. He’s a left-handed power bat. In my time I overlapped with him at the Cardinals, he was a very special player. He had big-time power at Triple-A and got promoted to the big leagues and showed that power there. He’s been inconsistent the last few years, but we really feel like this is a guy we want to take a chance on. He’ll come into camp looking to make the club.”