Results tagged ‘ spring Training ’
Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field Tuesday morning at Osceola County Stadium for the first official workout of Spring Training. They’ll be joined on Saturday by the rest of the position players, many of whom are already in Kissimmee and working out.
Among those to arrive Tuesday were outfielders Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, who said he has decided not to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Manager Bo Porter is thrilled to see so many position players in the field.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “We’ve had great participation in our offseason program and had guys in Houston working out throughout the offseason. You look around from a position-player standpoint, and I want to say we had about 15 players, position players, out yesterday doing a voluntary workout. It shows their anxiousness and excitement to get this thing started.”
Porter plans to address the team prior to Saturday’s workout, but he did have a few words before pitchers and catchers hit the field Tuesday.
“We talked about change,” he said. “You can look around and tell things are changed. We talked about the opportunities that present themselves in this organization. I told them, ‘Embrace both of them. Embrace change and embrace the opportunity,’ and we’re looking for guys to take the bull by the horn and take the opportunity to become Houston Astros.”
Here are some early photos:
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow met with the front office and the field staff for a few hours Monday afternoon to pore over every player on the Spring Training roster. It’s standard procedure in advance of pitchers and catchers hitting the field Tuesday for the first official workout of the spring.
Pitchers and catchers were officially scheduled to report Monday, and the only player who didn’t show up was catcher Carlos Perez, who’s dealing with visa issues in his native Venezuela. Luhnow didn’t have a timetable for his return, but doesn’t think it will be a long-term issue. The Astros have 29 pitches and six catchers currently in camp.
“The staff, we just all got together upstairs and talked through every pitcher and catcher in camp and it look us a few hours to do that,” Luhnow said. “Really talking about what our expectations are this spring, what’s it’s going to take for them to make the club, what scouting reports do we have for them from last year, talking about new players we haven’t seen yet. Trying to give everybody who’s here in camp as much background as they can on the players that are here.”
Monday’s Astros notebook has updates on who might start on the mound on Opening Day, the health of left-hander Sergio Escalona and more.
Here are some pictures from Monday’s camp activity:
Here are some photos taken Thursday of the activity at Osceola County Stadium, which will host Astros Spring Training beginning next week. Photos are courtesy of Kiwi Global Solutions, LLC.
Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens will be uniform as an instructor for the Astros at Spring Training next month.
Clemens, who has a personal services contract with the Astros, met for five hours Monday morning at Minute Maid Park with general manager Jeff Luhnow, pitching coach Doug Brocail, director of player development Quinton McCracken and the amateur scouts.
“We talked about pitching in the Minor Leagues, scouting pitching, pitching in the college ranks and high school ranks and teaching pitching, so it was a good working day,” Luhnow said.
Luhnow and Clemens also mapped out a plan for Spring Training that will see Clemens make at least a couple of trips to Kissimmee, Fla., beginning in late February for a Minor League mini camp. He’ll also work with the Major League club at that time and again later in camp.
“We feel pretty good about Roger’s level of involvement this year,” he said. “I think he’s going to be a lot more involved than he was last year and we’d welcome it on our side to have someone like him around.”
Clemens was a frequent sight around the back fields at Osceola County Stadium following his retirement in 2007, especially since his oldest son, Koby, played in the Astros system from 2005-2011. He’s kept a lower profile the last couple of years, but will take an active role this year.
“At this point, the plan to make two trips to Kissimmee to work with our pitchers and then he’ll be available and around during several of the homestands this year,” Luhnow said. “If we feel like we need him to send him on assignment to one of our Minor League affiliates or see a pitcher for the Draft, he’s open to doing that. We’ll play it by ear, but we expect we’ll see Roger in Kissimmee sometime before the end of February.”
Luhnow said having an asset like Clemens will be huge for a young team with several up-and-coming arms.
“It’s got a tremendous amount of value because not only does he understand where they’re coming from, he was an amateur player, he was a young professional and he had a long, storied career,” he said. “But he has a lot of anecdotes from throughout his career about different people that taught him different things and the successes and failures he had, and I think it really makes it real when you hear these stories.
“A lot of these kids probably watched him on TV when they were youngsters, so to hear it straight from his mouth will have a huge impact on them. Today was a good today because we felt we were very much in alignment in terms of our vision in terms of how Doug teaches it and Roger teaches it. It’s great Doug is welcoming Roger with open arms.”
In their final game of the year at Osceola County Stadium, the Astros lost to the Yankees, 11-9, when the game was called with two outs in the top of the ninth inning with rain falling (boxscore). Houston will take a 14-15 record into its Grapefruit League finale on Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.
Astros owner Jim Crane toured the Mets’ spring facility before flying to Kissimmee on Saturday for the Astros game. Here’s what he had to say about possibly moving the team out of Kissimmee when the lease expires in 2016.
For an update on the health of Jed Lowrie, click here.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: There were plenty of things to like offensively, with the Astros belting four home runs. Sure, the wind was blowing out, but several Astros players put good swings on some balls. The Astros hit four home runs — Justin Ruggiano (2-for-4, four RBIs) had a three-run homer and Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4), Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson (3-for-4) had solo shots to pace the Astros’ 14-hit attack.
Bogusevic homered off a left-hander, which pleased manager Brad Mills, and Johnson went the other way.
Elsewhere at the plate, Travis Buck went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Jose Altuve, Chris Snyder, Landon Powell and Marwin Gonzalez each had a hit.
Only two Astros pitchers didn’t give up a run, and neither pitched a full inning. David Carpenter got the final out in the fifth to escape a mess, and Fernando Rodriguez got two outs in the ninth before the game was called.
What went wrong: The Yankees, taking advantage of a stiff wind (like the Astros did, too), slugged five homers. Starter Jordan Lyles’ final start of the spring wasn’t a good one. He allowed 11 hits and eight runs in 4 2/3 innings to raise his spring ERA to 8.41.
“Nothing went as planned,” Lyles said. “I didn’t throw it to my target, and when it was over the plate they hit it really hard. It wasn’t my day. I’ve got to do a better job of eliminating the big innings when I don’t have my control and my stuff.”
The Astros now have a difficult decision to make on Lyles, who made 15 starts last year at 20 years old but was out-pitched this spring by Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell.
“We’re discussing everything,” Mills said. “We’re going through all kinds of things right now with our starters and the games we have left [in exhibition season]. We want to look at everything and go from there.”
Brandon Lyon pitched for the second day in a row and gave up two homers in one inning. The Astros didn’t commit any errors, but they weren’t crisp on defense early in the game and allowed the Yankees to keep some innings going.
J.D. Martinez went 0-for-4 and was the only starter sans a hit.
What they said: “I know I’ve had a bad outing here or there. Hopefully, those couple of outings won’t hold me back or hinder me. They might feel like other guys have pitched better in Spring Training, which they might have. There’s no excuses. I should have pitched better if that’s the case.” — Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles on his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
What’s next: The Astros close out the Grapefruit League portion of their spring schedule when they face the Detroit Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland, Fla. Wandy Rodriguez, the Astros’ Opening Day starter, will make his final start of the spring before facing the Rockies on April 6 in Houston.
Injury update: CF Jordan Schafer (left hand) took batting practice Saturday and should get a couple of at-bats Sunday, which would mark his first game action in two weeks. … SS Jed Lowrie (right thumb) is going to be out for a few more days.
Astros owner Jim Crane made another pass through Florida on Saturday, arriving at Osceola County Stadium and taking in batting practice with some of his partners.
Earlier in the day, Crane toured the Mets’ Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, which is down the road from his Floridian Golf Club. Crane has previously visited the Spring Training sites of the Yankees in Tampa and the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.
The Astros are under contract with Osceola County Stadium through 2015.
“As we said last time, we’re kind of looking at all the different spots and we had time to go there this morning and take a tour of the field and look at their facilities,” he said. “Certainly, they’re interested in another team there, but we’ve still got a deal here for quite some time so we’re just kind of learning. We’ll probably go out to Phoenix this week and check out a couple of spots and look at a few more spots in Florida.”
Crane hasn’t said the Astros will move their Spring Training facility when their lease in Kissimmee expires, but the state of Florida is actively trying to keep its 15 teams in the Grapefruit League and prevent any further defections to the Cactus League in Arizona.
“The state of Florida wants to keep everybody here,” he said. “We’ve got to do what’s best for us, and certainly this is a nice facility.”
As far as the upcoming season goes, Crane said Friday’s Opening Day game against the Rockies is approaching a sellout.
“We’re trying to sell out the opening game,” he said. “We’re getting close. We might make it. We’re working hard at it.”
Meanwhile, Crane and the Astros have about a month to submit new uniform designs to Major League Baseball. The Astros have had focus groups with fans to gauge new uniform designs, and it certainly appears the club will have a new look when it begins play in the American League in 2013.
“We’ve got another pass next week and we’ll be making some decisions pretty quick,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good input from the fans in the focus group, but also including some of the players and the guy that washes the uniforms. That’s very important. You’ve got to make sure the uniforms won’t break down on you.
“We’re leaning very heavily towards it and I’d be surprised if we didn’t [change].”
Astros catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season following ACL surgery on his right knee, caught all nine innings of Friday’s game against the Braves, marking the first time since his surgery a year ago he caught nine innings in a game.
Castro’s knee has felt great all spring, and it didn’t hurt that Friday was a night game and was played in two hours, 16 minutes. Still, after catching seven innings on Thursday, being able to come back and catch nine on Friday was a great sign.
“I didn’t know I was going to go nine and I talked to [manager Brad Mills] and he asked how I was feeling, and I said I was feeling good,” Castro said. “He said, ‘You can go ahead and have the whole thing.’ That was a fairly quick one and we had some easy innings, so that made it a little easier.”
Not only is Castro proving he’s healthy, but he’s playing well. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI single on Friday and is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with eight RBIs this spring.
“I put in a lot of work to get to where I’m at right now and I’m really happy with the way things have gone,” Castro said. “Hopefully I can just keep progressing and carry this into the season. I’m real happy with physically how I’m feeling and how my body is responding and recovering the day after catching. I’m really happy with that.”
Astros manager Brad Mills met with the media Friday afternoon in Kissimmee and covered a variety of topics:
- LHP J.A. Happ threw eight innings and 98 pitches in a Triple-A/Double-A game against the Washington Nationals on Friday afternoon. Mills said Happ is in line to throw again in Wednesday’s day exhibition against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park. “He did a real good job,” Mills said.
- Mills said he’s leaning towards Jason Castro starting Opening Day at catcher, Chris Snyder catching Saturday and Castro coming back for the April 8 day game against the Rockies. “They haven’t announced their rotation, so I’d be jumping ahead of myself if I announced that,” he said.
- CF Jordan Schafer, who’s been out nearly two weeks with a sprained nerve in his hand, could get an at-bat Saturday against the Yankees. He was going to take batting practice on Friday prior to the game with the Braves. Mills is hopeful Schafer can get two or three at-bats on Sunday, two or three Monday in Corpus Christi and a few more against the White Sox next week in Houston.
- We know that SS Jed Lowrie‘s MRI should no structural damage, and Mills is hopeful he’ll still be ready to go on Opening Day, which is only a week away. Lowrie played catch and was hoping to field some ground balls on Friday.
- Mills said the battle for the final two rotation spots is down to four people following the release of Livan Hernandez: RHPs Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland, Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell. Sosa and Harrell were said to be out of the mix 10 days ago, but Mills said on Friday they were back in the hunt. Harrell will start the exhibition game Monday against the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.
- Here are some updates on the pitching rotation: Lyles on Saturday, Wandy Rodriguez on Sunday, Harrell on Monday and Bud Norris on Tuesday against the White Sox on three days of rest. Mills has his pitching rotation set for the first weekend of the season, but has only announced Rodriguez as the Opening Day starter. “If we start looking this guy in this spot and that guy in this spot, everybody starts thinking about different things sand scenarios and I don’t think that’s fair to them right now,” Mills said.
- Mills said he’ll take a few extra Minor League players back to Texas on Monday for the exhibition game. Mills didn’t yet want to divulge names, but said five or six positions players and three or four pitchers will travel with the Major League club back home.
- Rule 5 pick up RHP Rhiner Cruz will throw two innings against the Braves on Friday night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This could be a big outing with him to see if he sticks with the club.
The Astros rode the strong pitching of Lucas Harrell and got some timely hitting to beat the Miami Marlins, 6-3, on Wednesday afternoon (boxscore) at Osceola County Stadium. We’ll get to the breakdown in a minute.
First, the club cut five more players from Major League camp on Wednesday morning, which helped to further clarify the roster composition. The biggest surprise was Brian Bixler, who was having a good spring. The Astros also named Wandy Rodriguez as their Opening Day starter, which came as no surprise.
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.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: Lucas Harrell, starting in place of Bud Norris (his start was pushed back two days to give his triceps tightness more time to heal), breezed his way through five innings, allowing three singles (two infield singles) and no earned runs while throwing an efficient 54 pitches. He didn’t walk anyone or strikeout anyone, which kept his pitch count low.
Harrell appears to be competing for a spot as the long man in the bullpen, which is a guy capable of making a spot start here and there. His performance on Wednesday certainly helped that cause along.
Astros closer Brett Myers worked in a save situation for the first time this spring and pitched around a lead-off infield hit, getting a double play to end the game. Myers has allowed one earned run in his last seven outings.
Brian Bogusevic got a start in center field and continued to swing it well, going 1-for-4 with a two-run single in the fourth inning that got the Astros going. Marwin Gonzalez, who entered the game in the fourth after Jed Lowrie left with a sprained thumb, went 2-for-3, and Chris Johnson was 2-for-3 to raise his average to .340.
The Astros drew seven walks, with Carlos Lee walking three times and Jose Altuve walking twice. Matt Downs had a big pinch-hit two-run double in the fifth inning. Lowrie, J.D. Martinez, Travis Buck, Chris Snyder and Harrell also had hits. Harrell also put down a sacrifice bunt.
What went wrong: Lowrie left the game with a sprained right thumb, suffered in the third inning when he was diving back into the base. He underwent X-rays, which were negative.
On the surface, there wasn’t much else to pick at in this one. The Astros did commit an error in the fourth inning when Martinez and Bogusevic collided in the outfield and the ball dropped, an error that led to an unearned run against Harrell.
The only pitchers to give up earned runs were David Carpenter and Wesley Wright, who pitched two innings.
What’s they said: “I talked to [pitching coach Doug] Brocail and he said to go out there today and fill up the zone with the sinker and see what happens. I needed to kind of get extended out. They were hoping to get me a few more innings, so I didn’t want to use up a lot of pitches in the early going. Once I got out there and my sinker was going and I got some ground balls, I kind of got in a comfort zone and got in a groove.” — Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell on his outing Wednesday.
What’s next: Livan Hernandez, who’s a favorite to win a spot in the starting rotation, will start for the Astros when they travel to meet the New York Mets at 5:10 p.m. CT in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Hernandez hasn’t pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 18 and instead pitched in a “B” game last week to get his work in.
Injury update: Shortstop Jed Lowrie suffered a sprained right thumb when he dived into second base on a pickoff attempt in the third inning Wednesday. There’s no word on long he might be out. … Center fielder Jordan Schafer is expected to start swinging a bat Friday in his attempt to return from a nerve injury to his left hand. Schafer saw a hand expert Tuesday in Atlanta and was told there was no significant damage.
Here are the photos: