Results tagged ‘ Roy Oswalt ’

Oswalt is all set for Tuesday start

After throwing about 40 pitches in the bullpen Sunday morning, Roy Oswalt said he was ready to make his first start in two weeks. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched since straining his left lower back on July 28 in Chicago, will start Tuesday against the Marlins in Miami.

“The biggest thing is command right now,” Oswalt said following his bullpen session. “It’s OK, but you can tell when you get in a game if your command is going to be better. As far as pain, I don’t have any pain.”

Oswalt (6-4, 3.61 ERA) is feeling so good he says he could have started Sunday. He hasn’t faced the Marlins this year, but is 5-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 career starts against Florida. That includes a 2-3 record and a 3.46 ERA in six starts at Dophin Stadium.

Meanwhile, first baseman Lance Berkman said his left calf felt better Sunday. Of course, Berkman was saying this in the morning when the most strenuous thing he had done was walk to the kitchen.

Astros slowly getting healthy

The news was very good for the Astros in the health department on Friday. Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and LaTroy Hawkins each threw successful bullpen sessions and are close to returning.

Rodriguez, who left his last start Saturday in St. Louis with a hamstring strain, will start Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched since straining his lower back July 28, will return to the rotation Tuesday against Florida, assuming all goes well with his scheduled bullpen Sunday.

And then there’s Hawkins, who appears like he’ll be able to come off the disabled list when scheduled on Wednesday. Good thing, too, because Doug Brocail went on the DL for the third time this season Friday, this time with a shoulder strain. Could we have seen the last of Brocail? I hope not, but considering his age (42) and medical history (15 DL trips) he could be done.

That brings us to Lance Berkman. Big Puma is still nursing a sore left calf, but said Friday he feels he could play. The Astros, however, are taking a more cautious approach, but based on his comments Friday, it appears Berkman could return by Monday.

If Rodriguez, Oswalt and Berkman return, stay healthy and perform like they did before they got injured, the Astros still have a chance. They’re five games out with 53 to play, so there is no time to waste for the local nine.

Astros need healthy Berkman and Oswalt

The Astros’ poor start in April coincided with Lance Berkman‘s slow start at the plate, and since Berkman went on the disabled list they have lost seven of 10 games. The good news is Berkman could return by Friday, giving the lineup a much-needed boost. They’re just not the same team without Puma.

Of course, if Berkman returns and Roy Oswalt is on the shelf, that’s bad news. Oswalt didn’t feel as good as he wanted to Monday after throwing in the outfield and his start Saturday is still up in the air. Remember when the Astros made their surge late last season? Oswalt led the way with a tremendous second half.

The bottom line is Oswalt is their best pitcher and Berkman is their best hitter and both need to be healthy for them to have any kind of shot. The Astros are back at .500, and they really can’t afford to fiddle around and fall back under the break-even mark. They were four games under .500 in mid-August in 2004 when they took off and won 36 of their last 46 games.

This team isn’t good enough to go on that kind of streak, so they need to start building now. They’re coming off back-to-back wins over 12-games winners in Adam Wainwright and Matt Cain in games started by Bud Norris and Mike Hampton. Just think of the possibilities of Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez are healthy.

At 53-53, the Astros would need to go 35-21 the rest of the way to win 88 games, which may be enough to win the division. The first-place Cubs need to go 32-26 to reach 88 wins. It’s certainly doable, but not without a healthy Oswalt and Berkman.


Paulino will start Tuesday if Oswalt can't go

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Saturday right-hander Felipe Paulino would start Tuesday against the Giants if Roy Oswalt can’t pitch. Oswalt, who has been bothered with a lower left back strain, will likely be placed on the 15-day disabled list of he can’t start Tuesday.

Paulino was scheduled to start Saturday at Triple-A Round Rock, but he was scratched in anticipation of perhaps throwing Tuesday. Paulino, who is 2-5 with a 7.04 ERA for the Astros this year, is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts at Round Rock.

“He’s going to do a bullpen up there and just be on hold,” Wade said. “If we get word back from Roy on Monday he’s not going to be able to make the start on Tuesday, that probably puts us in a position of having to put him on the disabled list.”

Oswalt would miss only two starts if he’s on the disabled list. He threw 50 pitches off flat ground Saturday in St. Louis and said he felt “20 to 30 percent” better than he did after throwing lightly Friday at 50 percent effort. He threw at 75 percent effort Saturday.
Oswalt said he will get a better idea if he’s going to make the start when he pitches off the mound either Sunday or Monday.

“Throwing off flat ground is great and all, but the biggest test will be when I get on the mound,” Oswalt said. “About the only time you’re 100 percent is in the off-season, so if I get back to 90 percent I’ll be in good shape. The biggest thing is trusting it when you get out there. You don’t want to get in a situation in a game where you’re not going all out and you lose a ballgame. If I think I can get out there and get outs, I can get out there.”

Yorman Bazardo (9-5, 2.98 ERA) has been Round Rock’s top starter this year, but he’s out of options. If the Astros brought him up to make a spot start, he would have to clear waivers to make it back to Round Rock.

“From a logistical standpoint, Paulino was the obvious choice at this stage,” Wade said. “Bazardo was a consideration, but from a roster standpoint he has no options remaining, and if we were to bring Yorman up at that point in time we’re pretty much locked into keeping him. That creates a domino effect when Oswalt comes off the DL and [LaTroy] Hawkins comes off the DL. So we had to sort of look at it in the short term and long term.

“Short term because we may need to cover two starts and long term if you cover with a guy like Bazardo it could impact the structure of the pitching staff and put him in position we have to put him on waivers to get him back down. Every little roster move has ramifications, and we need to try to think these things through.”

Astros face rotation questions

Unless Roy Oswalt makes a drastic improvement in his battle with a strained lower back, he’s likely headed to the disabled list Monday, leaving the Astros in need of a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against the Giants.

There really isn’t anyone in the bullpen who at this point would be capable of starting, so it’s likely the Astros would have to call upon a player from Triple-A Round Rock. The most likely candidate is Yorman Bazardo, who was 9-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 21 games (18 starts) entering Friday.

Because of Thursday’s off day, putting Oswalt on the DL would mean he would only miss two starts, so don’t reach for the panic button. He was originally started to pitch Sunday, but rookie Bud Norris will take his spot. Russ Ortiz was scheduled to go Tuesday before his release, and Oswalt will wait until Monday to see if he’s ready for that.

Now, on Friday I asked Roy about his back and I think he took a shot at me. He said his back was hurting, but he could do about 90 percent of the jobs in America, but pitching wasn’t one of them. I asked him if he could do my job, and he said his hands feel good.

Hey, pal, this job isn’t as easy as it looks from down there on the field.


Recapping a wild night at Wrigley

The Astros’ 100th game of the season was anything but ordinary. They lost Roy Oswalt to a lower back strain in the second inning and watched relievers Wesley Wright and Jeff Fulchino each give up three runs in relief. Thanks to 17 hits and big games from Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Tejada, they still thumped the Cubs, 11-6.

The win moved them to within 2 1/2 games of first place, which is now occupied by St. Louis. The Cubs are one-half back and the Astros are in third place with two games remaining at Wrigley before moving onto Busch Stadium.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the things that went on Tuesday with the Astros:

— RHP LaTroy Hawkins was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the game with shingles, which has been causing back pain. Hawkins is a mess. He can barely stand up and can’t sit at all, which means he’s doing a lot of laying on his back.

— RHP Doug Brocail was activated from the disabled list to take Hawkins’ spot on the roster. Brocail, who hasn’t pitched since May 4 because of a right hamstring strain, made four of his six scheduled Minor League rehab starts before having his stint cut short at Double-A Corpus Christi. He will join the team in Chicago on Wednesday.

— LHP Wesley Wright was taken to the hospital following Tuesday’s game with possible appendicitis. Wright pitched 2 1/3 innings after Roy Oswalt left the game (more on that below) and had a crisp inning before walking five batters and giving up three runs in one inning. No word on his condition.

— RHP Roy Oswalt will fly home to Houston on Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s game after 1 2/3 innings with a strained left lower back. He said the back bothered him slightly in his previous start five days earlier against St. Louis and it flared up again in the bullpen two days later. Oswalt was on the DL in 2006 with a mid-back sparin and last year with a left hip abductor strain. An MRI of Oswalt’s back taken last July showed a small disc protrusion.

— RHP Jeff Fulchino and LHP Wesley Wright each picked up their first Major League hits. Wright singled to left in his first Major League plate appearance, becoming the Astros pitcher to do that since Brad Lidge in 2002. Fulchino also got a ball stuck in his jersey on a ball hit by Kosuke Fukudome.

— 2B Jeff Keppinger started in place of Kaz Matsui and had four hits. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready so see Keppinger play more than Matsui. Money aside, Keppinger is just a better hitter. He started and succeeded Tuesday and wasn’t facing a lefty, which is how he’s been used so often.Keppinger is hitting .283 with a .362 on-base percentage, and Matsui is hitting .244 with a .300 on-base percentage.

— RHP Bud Norris, the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Astros’ system by Baseball America, was called up following Tuesday’s game and will join the team Wednesday. Norris said he was charting pitches in stands during Round Rock’s game in Memphis, Tenn., when the clubhouse attendant fetched him and told him trainer Mike Freer wanted to see him. Freer told him to pack his bags for Chicago.

Norris is a starter, but could be used as a reliever. There are questions surrounding the health of both Roy Oswalt (back) and Wesley Wright (possible appendicitis), so Norris’ role is yet to be determined. He was 4-9 with a 2.63 ERA in 19 starts for the Express.

Astros expect quiet deadline

Astros general manager Ed Wade reiterated his stance Saturday that he doesn’t see his club making an impact trade before the July 31 deadline.

Wade said the Astros don’t want to give up prospects and aren’t in position to add salary. Also, Houston entered play Sunday three games out of first place in the NL Central.

“We’ll have conversations with clubs,” he said. “I just don’t want to raise undo expectations that we’re going to really be active at the trading deadline because that’s not going to be the case. We’re not going to be in a position to make a deal of significance.

“We’ve talked about where our payroll is at this point in time and we’re going to be very reluctant to give up a lot of young players. But we’ll continue to have conversations if there’s ways to improve.”

The kinds of things Wade anticipates doing are more along the lines of adding inexpensive pieces like Chris Coste, who was claimed off waivers July 10. Relievers Chris Sampson and Doug Brocail could also return from the disabled list soon.

“A year ago at this time we had a real pressing need for starting pitching and bullpen help and we went out and got [Randy] Wolf and [LaTroy] Hawkins,” Wade said. “The way Roy [Oswalt] and Wandy [Rodriguez] are pitching at the top of the rotation and the way the other three guys have gotten us deep enough into games, puts us in a position where we’re not in dire need to go out and add starting pitching.”

Astros line up pitching after All-Star break

Wandy Rodriguez, and not Roy Oswalt, will get the ball to start the second half of the season Thursday in Los Angeles, manager Cecil Cooper said Saturday. Cooper wants to give Oswalt an extra day of rest to recover from the bone bruise on two of his fingers, an injury he suffered swinging the bat in the sixth inning Friday.

Oswalt, who will start Friday at Dodger Stadium, said Saturday he will be ready to pitch and expects to be recovered from his injury. Mike Hampton, who was roughed up Saturday, will start Saturday at Dodger Stadium and Russ Ortiz will start the final game of the series.

Cooper said Rodriguez is staying in Houston during the All-Star break and will throw a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park.


In case you missed it, the Astros claimed catcher Chris Coste off waivers on Friday. Coste, who spent 11 years in the Minor Leagues, including five in independent ball, broke in with the Phillies in 2006 and last year won a World Series ring. Wearing No. 41, he saw his first action for the Astros in the seventh inning Saturday.

The addition of Coste makes the Astros the first team in the Majors to have two players born in North Dakota on the roster at the same time. Coste was born in Fargo, N.D., and Darin Erstad is from nearby Jamestown, N.D. Those in Jamestown upset that it was reported their favorite son was from Fargo should take note that Erstad was quick to remind a reporter of his real hometown and urged everyone to refrain from writing letters.