Results tagged ‘ Sammy Gervacio ’

Astros make tender decisions

Right-hander Sammy Gervacio, who missed most of last season with right rotator cuff inflammation, was the only unsigned player on the 40-man roster the Astros chose not to tender a contract to prior to Thursday’s deadline to do so.

The move reduces Houston’s 40-man roster to 36 and makes Gervacio a free agent and able to sign with any team, but general manager Ed Wade said the club will attempt to re-sign him at some point. The shoulder ailments limited the side-armed Gervacio to just 13 combined relief appearances last season between Triple-A Round Rock and the Astros.

“It’s really a move of economics more than anything because of the uncertainty of his status going into Spring Training,” Wade said. “Had he been injured coming into Spring Training and unable to perform, we would have had to carry him on the Major League disabled list.

“While we’re protecting ourselves with respect to the tender, we still want Sammy to be part of our picture going forward.”

Gervacio, who went 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 29 games in his Major League debut in 2009, is still dealing with shoulder discomfort despite not pitching in a game since May 3. He made $403,000 last season, which is slightly above the league minimum.

“We’re going to have to be cautious how we bring him along,” Wade said.

Wade said the club never entertained the possibility of non-tendering pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Matt Lindstrom, infielders Clint Barmes and Jeff Keppinger and outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, all of whom are arbitration eligible and figure to play a key role in 2011.

“All of those players have value and will be counted on in some fashion going forward,” Wade said.

Keppinger ($1.15 million salary in 2010), Bourn ($2.4 million), Pence ($3.5 million) and Lindstrom ($1.625 million) are in their second year of arbitration eligibility and Rodriguez ($5 million) and Barmes ($3.25 million) are in their third and final year.

Earlier this week, the Astros agreed to terms on one-year contracts with right-handed pitcher Nelson Figueroa ($900,000) and catcher Humberto Quintero ($1 million), thus avoiding arbitration with both players. Right-handed pitchers Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers and outfielders Carlos Lee and Jason Michaels are also all signed through 2011 or beyond.

Astros GM Ed Wade explains roster moves

The Astros made a pair of roster moves following Monday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, placing left-hander Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and optioning right-hander Sammy Gervacio to Triple-A Round Rock.

The club recalled right-hander Wilton Lopez from Round Rock and purchased the contract of left-hander Gustavo Chacin, putting the 40-man roster at its limit. Chacin will pitch as the lefty out of the pen in place of Byrdak.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Byrdak’s hamstring had been bothering for several weeks.

“[Head athletic trainer] Nate Lucero called me after he came out of the game tonight and said Tim said he had trouble finishing his pitches, and Nate went back and looked at video of last year compared to this year and it was apparent to him he was really having trouble coming down on his landing leg,” Wade said. “It seemed apparent he was trying to compensate for the hamstring.”

Wade talked to Byrdak (1-0, 5.23 ERA in 13 games) after the game and he confirmed that was the case.

“Before the hamstring blows or he hurts his arm, we put him on the DL and hopefully it resolves itself in 15 days,” Wade said.

Chacin was 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts for the Express. He’s allowed 24 hits, six walks and struck out 14 batters in 24 2/3 innings. He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.

Wade said left-hander Wesley Wright was also given consideration for being called up, but he threw six innings Monday.

“I talked to [Round Rock manager] Marc Bombard and he said he Chacin could handle the role in the bullpen and [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] is familiar with him from Spring Training and their days together in Toronto,” Wade said.

Gervacio, who threw one-third of an inning Monday and gave up a two-run single, is 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings in six appearances. Lopez was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three relief appearances at Round Rock and was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA and five strikeouts in four relief appearances for the Astros earlier this year.

Day 38: Cuts are looming, Gervacio shines again

Before we get to Monday’s game analysis, which won’t be pretty, let’s talk roster cuts. The Astros have 38 players on their active roster, meaning they need to trim the roster by 13 prior to Sunday. The next round of cuts could come as early as Tuesday morning, prior to the home game against Philadelphia.

The cuts should help determine some roles, such as starting catcher (J.R. Towles or Jason Castro), closer (Matt Lindstrom or Brandon Lyon) and fifth starter (Brian Moehler or Felipe Paulino), all of which are up in the air. The Astros could choose to go with a four-man starting rotation and carry an extra relief pitcher the first couple of weeks of the season.

Most of the decisions will be made before the team leaves Florida on Thursday night, but there could be some loose ends to tie up this weekend. The Astros play exhibitions games against Toronto on Friday and Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

“We’ll probably make some moves in the next couple of days,” general manager Ed Wade said. “We may end up talking to some of the non-roster guys and talk to them about their status but have them go to Houston with us for the games against Toronto.

“We still have some decisions to make, there’s no question about that. We’re not locked down on the 25, particularly with some of the nicks and dents health-wise we have right now.”

Some quick predictions:

Closer: Lindstrom

Catcher: Towles

Fifth starter: Paulino

Fifth outfielder: Cory Sullivan


The Astros lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-1 on Monday afternoon in Bradenton, Fla., and it was as ugly as the score. They gave up four home runs, committed four errors and were held to six hits. They had no hits in the final four innings against four different Pittsburgh pitchers. Ouch.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Stop if you’ve heard this before, but right-hander Sammy Gervacio was terrific once again. The 25-year-old side-winder struck out three batters and didn’t allow anyone to reach base in two perfect innings, lowering his ERA to 0.82.

In 11 innings this spring, he’s allowed only three hits, one run, two walks and struck out 14. It would be hard not give him a roster spot at this point. And considering Moehler could be in the bullpen, that could leave Casey Daigle, Chris Sampson and Wilton Lopez battling for the final bullpen spot. That will go down to the wire.

“In a game when things don’t seem to be going well at all, he still comes in and throws well,” manager Brad Mills said of Gervacio. “That’s pretty special.”

Brandon Lyon threw two innings for the first time this spring and struggled a bit, giving up five hits and two runs. He did say he felt fine, though. Lopez allowed one hit and one walk in his sixth appearance, but still has not allowed an earned run this spring.

Also, Edwin Maysonet started in left field for the first time this spring, marking his fourth outfield appearance of the year. He’s an infielder by trade, but he’s trying to increase his value by getting more versatile. He went 1-for-4 at the plate and is hitting .295, and he swung the bat well last year with the Astros.

“Right now I’m very comfortable,” he said. “The first game playing the outfield in Spring Training I was kind of nervous, but now I have more work and I feel more comfortable at it.”

The bad: Left-hander Gustavo Chacin, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, was hammered by the Pirates. He went two innings in his first start and gave up nine hits, including three home runs, eight runs (six earned) and two walks. In his defense, he gave up a two-run homer after first baseman Chris Shelton dropped a pop up that would have ended the second inning.

Chacin was a long shot to make the team, but his 12.96 ERA in five outings didn’t help his chances.

“He struggled with his fastball command, and when that happens it’s tough,” Mills said.

Chacin said if he doesn’t make the team, he wasn’t sure if he would go to the minors, if given the opportunity, or look for another team to latch onto.

“You see my ERA is very high, but I pitched good ballgames,” he said. “I got a couple of errors, routine plays we don’t make. I feel good because I’m healthy and my arm is in pretty good shape and I feel happy.”

What they said: “If he’s not at the point of getting into games in the next couple of days then I think the prudent thing would be to go ahead and disable him and give him time to get ready. We’re not there yet. He could come in tomorrow and say ‘I’m good to go on Wednesday’. We could leave him back here and he could play in [Minor League] games all the way through Sunday if it looked as if he were moving in a straight line and ready for Opening Day.” – GM Ed Wade on Lance Berkman, who is recovering from March 13 knee surgery.

What’s next: Right-hander Bud Norris will make his fifth start of the spring when the Astros return to Kissimmee to face the Philadelphia Phillies at Osceola County Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT. Norris, who’s been considered a favorite to land a spot in the back end of the pitching rotation, threw 58 pitches in his longest outing of the spring Friday against Pittsburgh and gave up three hits and three runs in four innings. Lindstrom, Sampson, Fulchino and Tim Byrdak are scheduled to follow Norris.

Astro-notes: SS Tommy Manzella (strained quadriceps) and OF Jason Bourgeios (strained hamstring) were scheduled to get some at-bats in a Minor League game at the complex in Kissimmee on Monday, but those games were rained out and they hit in the cage instead. Mills said he’d like to get Manzella and Bourgeois into a Minor League game before putting them into a Grapefruit League game:  “Before we throw them into something like that, we have to get them in a game atmosphere. If anybody, [the rainout] probably pushes Bourgeois back a little bit. We’d like to at least see him get some more at-bats and see him a little bit more.” … C J.R. Towles was scheduled to play in a Minor League team to test his hamstring, but wit the rainouts he was in the starting lineup in Bradenton and went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .333. Mills said the hamstring is “probably not where we need to be… but at the same time we need to get him behind the plate and seeing pitches and swinging the bat.” … 1B Lance Berkman, who had minor knee surgery March 13, took batting practice again Monday, and Mills said he did well. The Astros plan to increase his activities. … Mills said RHP Brett Myers, who was slowed by a groin strain, threw a bullpen session Monday and had no problems. He’s scheduled to start Friday’s exhibition game against Toronto. … RHPs Alberto Arias (right rotator cuff impingement) and Yorman Bazardo (right shoulder strain) will continue with their respective throwing programs, which consists of throwing off flat ground at this stage.

Day 31: Pitching shines after rough first inning

With the start of the regular season just two weeks away, the Astros lost to the split-squad St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 on Monday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium. The Cardinals scored five of their six runs in the first inning, but Houston’s pitching the rest of the way was pretty good.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Relief pitchers Sammy Gervacio and Wilton Lopez each threw two scoreless innings and struck out three batters, and after the game manager Brad Mills was asked if they were in the thick of the bullpen race. Gervacio has allowed three hits and one run in nine innings, and Lopez has pitched six scoreless innings and given up thee hits.

“There’s no doubt,” Mills said. “The way they’ve thrown the ball in the spring, you have to consider them.”

At the plate, the Astros had 10 hits while playing without injured starters Lance Berkman, Tommy Manzella and Michael Bourn. Carlos Lee went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and Pedro Feliz socked his second homer of the spring in the second inning. Chris Shelton, a non-roster invitee playing first base, went 2-for-3 with two doubles.

Mills put Geoff Blum at shortstop for the first time this spring, and he played an excellent defensive game and made a pair of diving stops.  Mills didn’t rule out using the veteran infielder at shortstop if Manzella isn’t healthy to start the season.

“I know it’s Tommy’s job,” Blum said. “I’m not going out there to shuffle lineups and that kind of thing. That’s Millsie’s job. I just want him to know if something should happen again injury-wise or whatever I can play there. I know [first base coach Bobby] Meacham’s seen me play quite a bit of short or second, but you have to give the manager confidence you can go out and do it.”

The bad: The first inning was a nightmare for Wandy Rodriguez, who got a ground ball out to start the game and then gave up a single, walked a batter, gave up a double, hit a batter and allowed a three-run homer to David Freese. When the dust settled, the Cards scored five runs on four hits in the first.

Rodriguez, who wound up throwing 90 pitches, held St. Louis to no runs and three hits in his next three innings when he got better command of his breaking pitches. He was forced to throw fastballs in the first inning because he couldn’t command his breaking pitches for strikes.

“The hitters were looking fastball and I threw it right down the middle,” he said. “That was killing me. The first inning, that was my big mistake.”

Mills liked the adjustments the lefty made.

“He didn’t have any command of his breaking ball and that’s all he had to throw was his fastball, and that’s awfully tough when all that they are doing is sitting on their fastball,” he said. “His second inning on he was able to find that curveball and throw it for strikes, and now they couldn’t sit on his fastball. He made the adjustment and did a real good job.”

The only error committed in the game came when catcher J.R. Towles tried to throw out Tyler Green at second base in the fourth and threw the ball into center field.

What they said: “We want him to have his full arsenal when he takes the mound, where he can throw any pitch in any count for strikes. That’s the type of pitcher he is. He’s able to throw his fastball, changeup, curveball and sinker at any time and then he’s really effective. Today, for whatever reason, he was able to find his curveball.” – Mills on Rodriguez.

What’s next: The Astros will leave most of their regular players, with the exception of Pedro Feliz and Kaz Matsui, behind when they travel to Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday to face the Pittsburgh Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT. Felipe Paulino will get the start, with Brandon Lyon and Gary Majewski also scheduled to pitch.

The Astros play on the road the next three games and five of the next seven, during which they will cover about 1,100 miles across Florida. Mills is like most managers in that he likes to give his veteran positions players relief from making long trips, but just about all of them will make long trips at some point in the next week.

Houston plays in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday and Clearwater on Thursday.

Astro-notes: Mills said Monday morning his group of injured players were improving: Lance Berkman (knee surgery), Michael Bourn (strained oblique), Jason Bourgeois (strained hamstring), Tommy Manzella (strained quadriceps) and Yorman Bazardo (shoulder strain). Right-hander Alberto Arias (shoulder strain) had an MRI on Monday and results were pending. Also, left-hander Wesley Wright was ill on Monday. … Because of rainouts, split-squad games and Monday’s off day, the starting rotation has been thrown a little off. Reliever Casey Daigle will make a spot start Wednesday at the New York Mets.