Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’
What happened: Brandon Laird’s grand slam to right-center field in the sixth inning keyed a six-run outburst and propelled the Astros to a 7-6 win over the split-squad Yankees on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium (boxscore).
Here’s the video clip of Laird’s grand slam:
What we learned: RHP Lucas Harrell has his sinker working. Harrell attacked the strike zone and coasted through three innings against a Yankees team that didn’t have any of its marquee players. Still, Harrell was sharp and threw 32 pitches and then went to the bullpen and threw 20 more to get his work in.
“I was hoping I could go another inning,” he said. “I was hoping to get up to 50 pitches. I told [pitching coach Doug Brocail] before the game my goal is to try to throw around 50 pitches. You try to be efficient but sometimes at Spring Training it works the other way. You want to go ahead and throw the 50 pitches, but you also want to get those pitches in against live batters.”
What we learned II: OF Rick Ankiel is a little locked in right now. Ankiel, who’s having a terrific spring at the plate, led off the fifth inning with a solo homer — his first with the Astros. He is 6-for-9 this spring with 12 total bases.
“I just take it day by day on what pitches we’re seeing,” he said. “I feel like it’s early and [opposing pitchers] are working on their heaters, but later on in camp you’ll start seeing more breaking stuff, cutters, and that type of stuff. It might be more important to get at-bats later on as it is now.”
What else: A hustling double by OF Brandon Barnes drew praise from manager Bo Porter, who said: “He made the guy make a play to get him out. It was a great, aggressive play.” … The Astros had a pair of runners thrown out trying to steal, and Porter later said they missed a couple of signs. … The Astros turned three double plays, with SS Jonathan Villar and 2B Jose Altuve playing well up the middle.
What went wrong: RHP Ross Seaton made a throwing error in the sixth that was costly. He fielded a come-backer to the mound with one out, turned to fire to second and threw the ball away. It was a potential inning-ending double play ball, and the Yankees went on to score five runs in the inning.
“A 1-6-3 double play and the inning’s over,” Porter said. “We don’t execute it, and 32 pitches later the score is 5-1. … It’s the perfect example of how big innings happen and something we still continue to stress to our guys that you have to play the game fundamentally sound.”
What they said: “Everybody wants to be up in a situation like that. He was a guy that couldn’t find the zone and I was looking for a pitch that I could handle, and he left one over the plate and I put a good swing on it.” — IF Brandon Laird on his sixth-inning grand slam.
What’s next: RHP Bud Norris makes his second start of the spring when the Astros play host to the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT at Osceola County Stadium on Friday. Norris, who could be the club’s Opening Day starter, threw two innings in his first outing of the season on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch three innings against St. Louis. The game will be broadcast on CSN Houston.
Who’s injured: C Max Stassi underwent surgery Thursday morning in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia. He’s out four-to-six weeks. … RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) threw off the mound Thursday and is near game action.
Links of the day: Had RHP John Ely not been traded to the Astros, he’d be playing in Korea. The Astros notebook has Dave Clark’s thoughts on Chris Carter’s progress in LF, C Jason Castro discussing plate collisions, OF Jimmy Paredes talking about working out with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, and much more.
Tweet of the day:
The day in photos:
What happened: The Astros bashed out 18 hits, including a pair of home runs by George Springer in his first start of the spring, to beat the Blue Jays, 10-1, on Wednesday afternoon in Dunedin (boxscore).
What we learned: RHP Alex White will be a huge factor in the race for the rotation. White, acquired in last December’s trade that sent Wilton Lopez to the Rockies, threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut against a tough Blue Jays lineup, but his entire body of work this spring has opened some eyes.
“I put in a lot of time this offseason and made a lot of changes throughout my delivery to be more consistent,” White said. “I think now I’m just kind of seeing that I’ve put in the work and hopefully good things will happen. I have to make sure I throw a lot of strikes, and that’s the key.”
What we learned II: CF George Springer could be ready for prime time. Springer, who barely got his feet wet last year at Double-A, made his first spring start and clubbed a pair of impressive homers, a three-run shot in the fourth and a two-run shot in the fifth.
“It felt good,” he said. “I was trying to get my timing back and just hitting the ball hard. I honestly say the key to those at-bats were the guys who were on base ahead of me. [Matt] Dominguez and [Carlos] Corporan had some great at-bats and was able to get me into a fastball-hitting count.”
What we learned III: RHP Jarred Cosart is looking forward to getting a start. Cosart, a starter, has pitched twice in relief, throwing two scoreless innings Wednesday. He’s been piggybacking other starters, but should get a turn to start a game the next time through the rotation.
“It’s a little different as far as warming up and stuff,” he said. “I like to go out there pretty early before a game and get going. I’m in big league camp for the first time so I’ll go with my role and whatever they want me to do, I’ll do. I’ve adjusted well to it. We’ll see what happens from here, but hopefully I can get back in the starting routine.”
What else: Ten of the Astros’ 18 hits were for extra bases – eight doubles and two homers. … The Astros have 68 hits in six games. … C Carlos Corporan went 2-for-2 with two doubles and continues to draw praise from the pitchers. He’s hitting .667 early in the spring. … 1B Nate Freiman had a line drive double off center field wall, going 1-for-3 to raise his average to .385. … OF J.D. Martinez, starting in right field, had a pair of hits. … 3B Matt Dominguez went 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
What went wrong: Well, not much. Tyler Greene let a ball get past him at shortstop in the second, but the Astros wound up getting an out on the play to end the inning. … J.P. Arencibia homered off LHP Wesley Wright, who gave up three hits in one inning.
What they said: “Outstanding. He really laid into those two balls with really good swings and got the head out. I thought the second one was better than the first one. It was a good day all around. We swung the bat well and the pitching was outstanding.” – manager Bo Porter on Springer.
What’s next: RHP Lucas Harrell will become the first Astros starter to take the mound for the second time when he gets the ball for Thursday’s 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Yankees in Kissimmee. Harrell, the Astros’ Pitcher of the Year last season, went two innings and allowed four hits and two runs on Saturday against the Phillies in Clearwater in his first spring start. The game will be televised on CSN Houston with Alan Ashby making his return to the Houston airwaves.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) is scheduled to face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) was scheduled to get an MRI on Philadelphia on Wednesday for a possible sports hernia.
Links of the day: Check out the Astros notebook for Delino DeShields Jr. talking about getting to hit together in the lineup, prospect Telvin Nash on how/why he lost 30 pounds and the plan for J.D. Martinez to get time in right field.
And don’t miss the feature story on Wesley Wright, who has gone from Rule 5 pick to elder statesman in five years:
The day in photos
What happened: The Astros rallied from five runs down and scored once in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI hit by George Springer to finish in a 7-7 tie with the Mets (boxscore). The Mets were playing a split squad and didn’t have enough bodies to continue.
“It was great just to battle back and come back from an early deficit,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “The guys had great ABs and [ground] the at-bats out and really gave us a chance to win the game late in the ballgames.”
What we learned : C Jason Castro can really swing it when he’s healthy. This was the first winter Castro had to prepare for the season following his catastrophic knee injury of two years ago, and he homered in his second at-bat of the spring. Remember, he hit four homers in his final seven games of last year and has shown some pop.
“One of the things I noticed real early on in the spring by watching him catch bullpens and watching how he was moving around, he’s finally healthy,” Porter said. “He’s legs are underneath him. When your legs aren’t underneath you, it’s hard to drive a baseball. I think we’re now starting to see the Castro we all believed we were getting when we drafted him.”
What else: RHP Bud Norris battled while using just his fastball and change-up (he didn’t throw any breaking stuff). He located his pitches well and got his work in. … RHP Jose Veras missed some spots a few times, but he worked through a difficult inning. … 2B Delino DeShields Jr. made things happen with his legs when he pinch-ran at first, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch. He’s fun to watch. … RHP Chia-Jen Lo threw the ball well and was down in the zone consistently in the ninth inning and had an explosive fastball with late life. … OF Fernando Martinez homered in his first at-bat on Sunday. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a threat.
What went wrong: RHP Bud Norris and RHP Brad Peacock gave up homers and RHP Jose Veras struggled to find the zone at times, but it was the first time in a game for everyone that threw on Sunday so results aren’t as important as getting in the work.
“I struggled to find the strike zone the first couple of hitters, but I’m going to work at it every day and it will get better,” Peacock said. “I threw everything today. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but it will get better as spring goes on.”
What they said: “The first at-bat of spring, there’s always a lot of intensity and I just tried to relax my second at-bat. It definitely helped me free up my hands a little bit. I’m trying to go through the process and build up the results will come, but I’m really focusing on just getting to where I’m comfortable heading into the season.” — C Jason Castro, who was 1-for-2 with a homer.
What’s next: Right-hander Philip Humber makes his first start for the Astros when they travel to Jupiter, Fla., to meet the St. Louis Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT. Humber, a native Texan who played college baseball in Houston, signed a one-year deal with the Astros after being claimed off waivers.
Who’s injured: RHP Hector Ambriz (sprained ankle) has thrown in the bullpen and could face live pitching soon. . … C Max Stassi (oblique) will travel to Philadelphia to see a specialist about a possible sports hernia.
Links of the day: Feature on Vince Coleman, the great base stealer who is in camp this year with the Astros as an outfield/baserunning instructor. The notebook has an update on health of Max Stassi, Trevor Crowe’s thoughts of coming to Houston and manager Bo Porter explaining how to defend a shift.
The day in photos
The Astros on Friday finished their final workout before they hit the field for their first Spring Training game of the season. They’ll battle the Philadelphia Phillies at 12:05 p.m. CT Saturday in Clearwater, Fla., where it promises to be a warm and sunny afternoon.
Lucas Harrell is scheduled to start the game for the Astros and will be one of about six or seven pitchers throwing, including Jarred Cosart. Cole Hamels is starting for the Phillies. Harrell was named the Astros Pitcher of the Year last season after going 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts.
“I felt good in my last couple of sides and I felt good throwing in simulated games to the hitters, so hopefully I can take what I’m doing out to the game tomorrow,” Harrell said.
It’s only Spring Training, but getting on the mound to face other hitters is sure to increase the intensity.
“You always have a little bit of nerves,” Harrell said. “It’s always a little bit exciting. The fact is there’s a lot of guys competing for a job, and I’m one of them. Just to know that I need to go out there and pitch well and get one of those spots on the team, it’s one of those things I’ll definitely be really focused.”
Astros manager Bo Porter put the team through a shorter workout Friday after the players had a lengthy meeting with the Players’ Association.
“We worked on a lot of special plays today,” Porter said. “It was more of an explanation of shift defense, where does everybody go when you start to play these special coverages based on a hitter?”
Click here for the Astros notebook, which has information on Jose Veras playing in the World Baseball Classic, what went down at the MLBPA meeting and we catch up with former Astros player, Jose Cruz Jr. And here’s what Jonathan Singleton had to say in his first public comments since his suspension for marijuana, a suspension that will cost him 50 games.
Here is the day in pictures:
The Astros have spent all spring practicing their post-game handshakes, and on Thursday they got a chance to work on their walk-off win celebration.
Brandon Laird’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning capped a four-run rally to send Team Ensberg to a 5-4 win over Team Everett in an intrasquad game at Osceola County Stadium.
“Never say die with the ‘Stros,” manager Bo Porter said. “That’s outstanding. It was a great comeback with a lot of energy. It served a great purpose. They played the game the way it’s supposed to be played and took advantage of mistakes the other team made.”
Morgan Ensberg said: “Our motto the whole time is ‘That’s what we do, we win.’ I’ll be honest with you. It was the young guys that did it. Delino DeShields had some huge hits. Jake [Goebbert] in the bottom of the seventh hits the triple to tie it up. Chris Carter gets a couple of hits and Brandon Laird gets a couple of hits, and all of a sudden we’re partying on the field.”
The losing team had to serve banana splits to the winning team.
“You want to turn it into a little bit of fun,” Porter said. “These guys have worked hard this entire camp and now we’re getting ready to play against opponents… We put a small wager on the line, something we all like — ice cream and banana splits.”
Ensberg called it the biggest win of his managerial career, which isn’t hard to do when it’s your first game.
“The thing that’s impressive about it is my managerial style hurts the players, and the fact they could do something positive with me in the dugout is a testament to their mental fortitude,” he joked.
Here are the pictures from the intrasquad:
The day began with the five members of the media, including MLB.com’s Alyson Footer and myself, battling five Astros players in a friendly game of Family Feud. With the entire roster, field staff and spring staff in the clubhouse, the media and five players — Rick Ankiel, Jason Castro, Justin Maxwell, Carlos Pena and Nate Freiman — sat at tables facing each other.
Astros director of Florida operations Jay Edmiston served as host and manager Bo Porter used an air horn for wrong answers. The media stole the first question from the players, but Maxwell –who I need to point out attended Maryland over Harvard — crushed yours truly — who attended University of Houston over UTEP — in the speed round to give the players the win. Click here for a photo.
There was laughter, booing and cheering, and a good time was had by all.
As far as baseball goes, there will be an intrasquad game at 11 a.m. CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium, but manager Bo Porter has already unveiled his lineup for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater.
SS Tyler Greene
2B Marwin Gonzalez
CF Justin Maxwell
1B Chris Carter
LF J.D. Martinez
DH Nate Freiman
3B Matt Dominguez
C Carlos Corporan
RF Trevor Crowe
RHP Lucas Harrell
These players are not making the trip: Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Max Stassi, Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace, Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez.
Porter said he wants the regular position players to get between 50 and 70 at-bats in games.
“Some guys may need more, some guys may need less,” he said. “A guy like Carlos Pena may feel like he’s locked in with a week to go in camp. Altuve may feel the same way, or he may say, ‘I need to play seven, eight, nine innings because I need extra at-bats.’”
Porter originally had Che-Hsuan Lin in right field against the Phillies, but when he told him Wednesday he was in the lineup, Porter was caught off guard.
“He says, ‘Bo, I’m not going to be here. I leave today,’” Porter said. “I said, ‘Leave? Leave to go where?’ He said, ‘To the World Baseball Classic.’ I knew he was going to the Classic, but I didn’t know he was leaving [Wednesday]. I was under the impression all the guys going to the Classic were going to leave on March 2. That was a little bit of a shock, but we’re glad that he’s going to play for his country, and represent his country and we’re in full support of that.”
Lin is playing for Chinese Taipei in the Classic.
Finally, today was photo day, which meant each player was rotated through several different photography stations. Here’s glimpse:
Nothing says Grapefruit League action is around the corner like a good, old-fashioned intrasquad game, which is what the Astros will do at 11 a.m. CT on Thursday at Osceola County Stadium. The teams, which are led by Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett, were drafted Wednesday morning:
Team Everett: Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene, Jason Castro, Fernando Martinez, Rick Ankiel, Brett Wallace, George Springer, Nate Freiman, Marwin Gonzalez.
Team Ensberg: Justin Maxwell, Matt Dominguez, Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, Jonathan Villar, J.D. Martinez, Delino DeShields, Carlos Corporan, Brandon Barnes.
There will be no pitchers throwing because the Astros are going to use a pitching machine that throws curveballs.
Today’s Astros notebook has Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid discussing how pumped up they are to face their former team on Saturday when the Astros play the Phillies, as well as plenty of other information. And don’t forget the story and video of Roger Clemens throwing live BP to hitters on Wednesday. If you think it’s silly, read what the hitters had to say.
Now the photos:
Astros pitchers have one more day of live batting practice Wednesday before they’ll appear in Grapefruit League games, beginning with Saturday’s opener against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.
Astros manager Bo Porter singled out right-hander Brad Peacock, acquired in a trade with Oakland earlier this month, as throwing the ball well.
“It was down in the zone,” he said. “Those guys [the group that pitched Tuesday] had their last live day, so they mixed in their breaking stuff and his breaking ball was good, change-up was good and his fastball was explosive with late life. It was good to see.”
Porter said Tuesday the club will use a pitching machine that throws nothing but curveballs in Thursday’s intrasquad game.
“As you take batting practice and even through live [BP], these guys haven’t taken too many swings off of breaking balls,” Porter said. “It’s one of those things that when you get to a game setting and you have the backdrop and the space and the field and all the cages and stuff like that removed, it’s always a good drill.”
The Astros will hold a draft Wednesday morning to pick teams for the intrasquad game, which will be held inside Osceola County Stadium and last about five or six innings. The teams will be called Team Everett and Team Ensberg, with Minor League instructors Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett serving as coaches.
Here is the day in pictures: