Results tagged ‘ roster cuts ’
The battle for the fifth spot in the Astros’ starting rotation is a three-man race after right-hander Dan Straily, brought to Houston in a trade with the Cubs in January, was among three players cut from Major League camp on Monday morning.
Straily was optioned to the Minor Leagues, and right-hander Mark Appel and outfielder Andrew Aplin were reassigned, leaving the Astros with 41 players in camp two weeks shy of Opening Day.
Straily, who was competing with Roberto Hernandez, Asher Wojciechowski and Sam Deduno for the fifth spot in the rotation, will begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A Fresno. He appeared in four games this spring, making two starts, and allowed 12 hits, seven runs and five walks in 10 2/3 innings.
“He was behind a couple of other guys,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “It’s always tough to send a guy out after he pitched well [Sunday], but we looked at the set of circumstances that would lead to him being that fifth starter, and we really feel like he’s a starter so we want him to go to Triple-A and be prepared.”
Straily, 26, was acquired along with third baseman Luis Valbuena from the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Dexter Fowler in January. He had a subpar year with the A’s and Cubs last year while battling shoulder weakness that changed his arm slot following a bang-up rookie season in which he went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for Oakland in 2013.
“He’s a Major League pitcher, he’s had time in the big leagues, he’s had success in the big leagues and I think he will for us as well,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to need more than five starters this year more than likely and he’s going to be one of the guys we rely on.”
Hernandez, a nine year veteran, is 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four outings (two starts) this year and could have a leg up on the competition considering his experience.
“You look at what’s going on with other clubs around baseball, and there’s a lot of injuries and having extra pitchers that are Major League caliber is something we value,” Luhnow said. “That’s definitely a consideration.”
Appel, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, appeared in three games this spring and gave up five hits and two earned runs in seven innings. He’s likely headed to the rotation at Double-A Corpus Christi, which is where ended last year.
“He’s on a good trajectory right now after a down season last year,” Luhnow said. “He ended the season strong and had a good fall league and a good camp and he’s exactly where we need him to be. He’s one of the top Major League starting prospects in the game, and I expect he’s going to be in Houston and be close to or at the top of our rotation for many years to come.”
Considering Appel appeared in only one game last spring, his experience in big league camp this year was invaluable.
“I’m very blessed to be able to be here,” he said. “It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about what it takes to be able to get here and stay here, and I’m going to definitely work hard to get back.”
Astros manager Bo Porter said the players cut from Major League camp on Sunday made good impressions on the club. The team made their first cuts by reassinging second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.
“It’ like I explained to all those guys this morning that came in: You get to this point in Spring Training, from a pitching standpoint, the starters are getting built up and they’re going to start to go deeper into the game and position players are going to start getting more at-bats, which means those guys that have been coming in piggybacking those guys, the opportunities for them are going to get more limited,” he said. “They start playing games in the Minor Leagues on the 14th [Thursday] and this gives those guys an opportunity to get down there and get regular at-bats.”
Demel, who was picked up on waivers, had allowed 10 hits and 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings of work this spring. Owens, acquired by the Pirates in the Wandy Rodriguez deal, had only pitched three innings. He’s a starter, so going to Minor League will allow him to pitch regularly in a rotation.
“[Demel] is a sinkerball pitcher, and sometimes it takes those guys a little bit longer to get the sink on their ball, get the action going,” Porter said. “We didn’t want him to sit there as a roster guy in camp and get the minimum opportunities to pitch in the game. That’s why we thought it would be the best thing for him to get to Minor League camp so he can get his sinker going.”
On Owens, Porter said: “Owens came over in a trade and he’s a rotation guy that will start the season in Triple-A, and we have to give him an opportunity to get build up.”
On DeShields: “Delino did a great job. Every situation we put him in, we gave him an opportunity to use his skill sets and he used him to the best of his ability and helped us win some ballgames. Like we told him, go down there and continue to work on the things you do well and allow your speed to impact the game. He did a tremendous job when he was here and we expect him to have a tremendous year.”
The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring on Sunday morning.
Reassigned to Minor League camp:
2B Delino DeShields Jr.
OF Jake Goebbert
OF Marc Krauss
CF George Springer
C Chris Wallace
Optioned to Minor League camp:
LHP Rudy Owens
RHP Sam Demel
The Astros trimmed their Major League roster by five more players Wednesday morning, reassigning infielders Angel Sanchez, Scott Moore and Brian Bixler to Minor League camp, optioning right-hander Enerio Del Rosario to the Minor Leagues and releasing infielder Joe Thurston. They’re down to 34 players in camp.
Bixler was the biggest surprise, considering he’s had a good camp at the plate and has shown his versatility by playing in the outfield. He slugged his third homer of the spring on Tuesday.
“It’s tough to talk to a guy about that, but he knows the situation we’re in,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “He’s going to go to Triple-A and he’s going to be ready. He’s the type of guy who can play a lot of positions, has tools and is well-liked with our big league staff. I have a feeling if an opportunity arises, he’ll be back.”
Bixler will see time at shortstop and center field at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Sanchez, meanwhile, spent all of last season with the Astros and was the Opening Day starter at shortstop. He was slowed by a back injury early in spring, but was hitting .412 in Grapefruit League play.
“That’s one of his best assets is that he does swing the bat and takes a really good Major League at-bat,” Luhnow said. “That’s going to give him an opportunity to have a career at the big league level. Right now, we need him to go to Oklahoma City and play shortstop almost every day and be ready in case there’s a need.”
The moves leave the Astros with seven infielders, meaning one more cut will need to be made. If you have Carlos Lee, Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Chris Johnson starting on the infield, the final two spots will come down to Matt Downs, Brett Wallace and Rule 5 pick Marwin Gonzalez.
The Astros are settled with Jason Castro and Chris Snyder at catcher (Carlos Corporan and Landon Powell are still in camp) and have to cut one more outfielder, likely from among Justin Ruggiano, Travis Buck or J.B. Shuck.
“We still have a couple of extra position players, but you guys can look at it and take your best guess,” Luhnow said. “We’re still going to use all our available time to figure it out. As we’re making decisions, we’re being quick about letting players know they’re not longer in the mix. Anybody that’s still in the club is still in the mix.”
Remaining players in Astros camp (non-roster players in italics):
Pitchers –Fernando Abad (LHP), David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Sergio Escalona (LHP), J.A. Happ (LHP), Lucas Harrell, Livan Hernandez, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez (LHP), Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Wesley Wright (LHP).
Catchers — Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Landon Powell, Chris Snyder.
Infielders — Jose Altuve, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Jed Lowrie, Brett Wallace.
Outfielders — Brian Bogusevic, Travis Buck, J.D. Martinez, Justin Ruggiano, Jordan Schafer, J.B. Shuck.