Results tagged ‘ Tag’s Lines ’
The Astros on Wednesday morning held a draft for Thursday’s intrasquad game with Minor League instructor Morgan Ensberg, who will be coaching against Adam Everett, taking outfielder Justin Maxwell with the No. 1 overall pick. The Astros will split up for an intra-squad game at 12 noon CT Thursday at Osceola County Stadium.
Here’s what else is new Wednesday:
- Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez issued a no comment through a team spokesman Wednesday morning one day after an ESPN reported linked him to a South Florida clinic that’s been connected to performance-enhancing drugs. Astros manager Bo Porter told reporters Wednesday he spoke to Martinez prior to the team’s morning workout at Osceola County Stadium. Porter said Martinez would continue to be involved in camp activities, and he was on the field Wednesday.
- Porter said he’s working to get legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry to be at his managerial debut March 31 at Minute Maid Park. He said Fry follows everything that goes on with the Astros with “great anticipation.” Porter played football at Iowa under Fry.
- Porter said he expects Matt Dominguez to get the bulk of the time at third base, which certainly isn’t a surprise. He said Brett Wallace will get a look at third base, but he’ll primarily play first. Brandon Laird and Marwin Gonzalez can also play third base.
- Today is Roger Clemens‘ final day in camp, and he could throw live batting practice. He showed up to the facility wearing his baseball pants, so stay tuned.
The big news at Astros camp was the arrival of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who will be a frequent visitor to camp this year. The Astros have invited him back to help tutor their young pitchers, and he rolled up his sleeves and went to work on Sunday by watching pitchers throw live batting practice and offering advice to several young arms.
“Obviously, when someone like Roger is talking, you’re a sponge,” pitcher John Ely said.
Also, Astros owner Jim Crane had the thrill of a lifetime when he got the chance to play golf with both President Obama and Tiger Woods. Crane spoke to MLB.com about his great day.
Meanwhile, Sunday marked the first day hitters faced live pitching, and most of the hitters used the time to simply track pitches — watch them thrown into the catcher’s mitt — more than trying to hit, though there were a few who took some hacks on a cold day.
“I took a swing and squared up a line drive up the middle,” Carlos Pena said. “At this stage, you want to make sure you’re ready to hit, and you try to track the pitches and follow them into the glove. But you want to make sure you’re in good position to hit, and then if that’s what you want, go ahead and take a swing.”
The chilly temperatures at camp Sunday were a good primer for those April road games in Seattle, manager Bo Porter said. The skipper said the first day of live batting practice was more for the pitchers than anything else.
“It’s was good for the pitchers to get out of the bullpen and get a hitter in the batter’s box and get closer and closer to starting games here,” Porter said. “If you’re seeing the ball live and seeing ball come out of the pitcher hand – the weather was why some guys decided to track – but at the same time I think it was overall good.”
Here is the day in pictures:
It drizzled on and off Thursday morning, but the Astros still managed to get in a full workout on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium. But just as the pitchers and catchers were gathering for their post-workout handshakes, manager Bo Porter sprung a surprise.
He order the players into the clubhouse and up the stairs, where he had them watch a video of pitcher fielding practice performed correctly. The video ended with the final three outs of last year’s perfect game thrown by Philip Humber, who was honored earlier in the day by Porter with a sparkling cider toast, complete with a phone call from catcher A.J. Pierzynski from Arizona.
“We made an adjustment with the shaking hands, and we moved that indoors and we had a little video set aside for the guys,” Porter said. “The last three outs of the video was Humber’s last three outs of his perfect game, and then we shook hands.”
Humber was taken back with all the attention.
“It was good to do something like that,” he said of the morning toast. “Nothing to do with me, but to have something for the team to come together over. I thought it was a really good deal. I wasn’t expecting it. It was fun for everybody.”
And don’t miss today’s feature on Jason Castro, who’s hoping to grow defensively while working with veteran catching instructor Jeff Murphy.
Thursday’s Astros notebook is full of information, including Porter’s thoughts on not having names on the backs of jersey this spring, how the team celebrated Humber’s perfect game from a year ago and why Edgar Gonzalez drove 34 hours to Spring Training. And much, much more.
Some other news from Thursday:
- Outfielder Jimmy Paredes was the latest position to report to camp on Thursday. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said catcher Carlos Perez and infielder Jose Martinez, who had been held up on visa issues, were both expected to arrive on camp on time. Position players are scheduled to report Friday in advance of Saturday’s first full-squad workout.
- Right-hander Hector Ambriz rolled his ankle during a drill Thursday and had to get the ankle taped up. Manager Bo Porter said it wasn’t serious. Meanwhile, catcher Max Stassi was held out of workouts again Thursday because of strained oblique, but it’s also minor and he could return to action any day.
- Roger Clemens is expected to be in camp at some point this weekend. General manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t know if the Rocket would working with pitchers beginning Saturday or Sunday, but he’ll soon be back in Kissimmee. Morgan Ensberg, the former Astros MVP who’s returning to the club as a Minor League coach, arrived in town Thursday.
Here is the day in photos:
Astros manager Bo Porter met with a group of players prior to Wednesday morning’s workout that he wants to take a leadership role on the club this spring. The meeting, which Porter dubbed “Astros Talk,” included Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Jason Jaramillo, Erik Bedard, Bud Norris, Philip Humber, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Jose Veras and Edgar Gonzalez.
“We talked about leadership, and there’s a reason why I picked those guys,” he said. “Some of those guys have been on other teams where obviously it hasn’t been the situation we have here where we have a lot of young guys, and a lot of times these guys have been on teams and they have been the young guys.
“They now find themselves in a situation they become the older spokesmen. Like I said to them, I want to make sure we’re all on one sheet of music and we understand what leadership is all about and how you can effectively lead. If they had any questions, I wanted to be available for them to answer those questions to make sure we’re on one accord.”
Most baseball names don’t have a captain as in some other sports. The Yankees are one team that has traditionally identified a singular captain. Porter doesn’t plan to do that in Houston. Instead, he’s giving the responsibility of leader the younger players to those with the most service time.
“I explained to them, we’re not looking for one leader,” Porter said. “We’re looking for a group of leaders, because I’m a firm believer that leaders have to exist in every area, every level of the organization if you want the organization to continue to grow and continue to thrive. And the leaders have to develop the next wave of leaders. We’re not looking for one; we’re looking for a group.”
The first injury of camp was reported Wednesday morning when catcher Max Stassi, acquired in last week’s trade with Oakland, was diagnosed with a strained oblique. He will be held out of drills Wednesday.
“We’re going to pull him back a little bit as far as his workload goes,” Porter said. “He kind of tweaked his oblique a little bit.”
Here are a couple of quick morning photos:
The smell of fresh paint, new carpeting in the clubhouse and sharp new uniforms hanging neatly in the lockers of the players were all reminders these are not your grandfather’s Astros. In fact, they’re pretty far removed from the 2012 Astros.
With pitchers and catchers reporting to Osceola County Stadium on Monday morning to shake hands, take physicals and get in a light workout, the Astros cranked up their first Spring Training as an American League club. New manager Bo Porter will have to wait until Tuesday to see the pitchers and catchers hit the field for the first official workout, but the start is near.
“I’m extremely anxious,” Porter said. “You spend your whole offseason waiting for this day to come and now that it’s here, obviously there’s a lot of anticipating of getting with the guys and you can see the excitement in their eyes. We’re just ready to get on the field and get started.”
Right-hander Philip Humber is one of 39 new faces to camp this year after spending last year with the White Sox. The Texas native was thrilled to pull on his No. 59 jersey.
“It’s that time of year when you’ve done everything you need to do to prepare for Spring Training and a new season and you start getting that itch it’s time to start putting everything you’ve done in the offseason to work,” he said. “I’m excited to be here, excited to meet all these new faces and just get started playing baseball.”
Many position players have already reported, well ahead of Friday’s official report date. All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve arrived in Florida on Saturday. Also spotted Monday morning were Brett Wallace, Matt Dominguez, J.D. Martinez, Brandon Barnes, Justin Maxwell, Jake Elmore and Marc Krauss.
“I feel really good, and I wanted to get here a little early to get ready and prepare the right way to star the season,” Altuve said.
Here are some morning pictures:
The Astros lost their third consecutive Spring Training game, 6-3, to the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at sunny George M. Steinbrenner Field, dropping their Grapefruit League record to 7-7 near the midpoint of the spring season. You can find the boxscore by clicking here.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: How about the relief pitching of Brett Myers? Those who were worried about Myers’ struggles early in the spring needed to remember he’s a veteran who’s working on arm strength as he prepares himself to be the closer. He pitched two innings Saturday for the first time this spring, allowing one hit and no runs and touching 91-92 mph on the radar gun. Astros manager Brad Mills said he would like to get Myers in consecutive games later this spring.
Myers wasn’t the only reliever to pitch well. Left-hander Xavier Cedeno pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning, striking out Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano, and Fernando Rodriguez struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth. Right now, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Rodriguez isn’t on the club when it breaks camp.
The Astros outhit the Yankees (9-7), with left fielder J.D. Martinez going 2-for-4 with a double and third baseman Chris Johnson going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Johnson has done a nice job at the plate as he battles to make the club, and has raised his spring average to .348 with a couple of good swings of the bat Saturday. Martinez has looked strong at the plate all spring.
Jason Bourgeois, J.B. Shuck, Joe Thurston, Marwin Gonzalez (double) and Angel Sanchez each had a hit. Shuck had an RBI triple, and Sanchez came off the bench as a pinch-runner late in the game and subsequently singled to center.
The Astros were errorless once again.
What went wrong: Bud Norris was the second consecutive starter to get roughed up, giving up five hits, five runs and four walks in three innings in only his second Grapefruit League appearance of the spring. Norris needed 31 pitches to get out of the first, an inning which included two hits and two walks., He retired the first two batters he saw in the second before walking Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson and giving up a three-run homer to Robinson Cano on an 0-2 pitch. He threw a clean third inning, pitching around a pair of walks, to finish at 73 pitches.
Rhiner Cruz, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, hasn’t done much to help his chances of sticking with the club all season, never mind making it through Spring Training. He allowed a home run to Bill Hall — yes, that Bill Hall — in his one inning of work, giving him five earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings of work this spring.
At the plate, Jack Cust started at designated hitter and went 0-for-3, dropping him to 0-for-20 this spring. Cust has been limited to a designated hitter role and could be losing his grip on one of the backup outfield spots, especially with the way Travis Buck and J.B. Shuck have swung the bat from the left side.
Brad Snyder, Landon Powell and Brett Wallace each went 0-for-2 at the plate.
What they said: “I thought the guys did a good job of battling back [had the tying run at the plate to end the game]. That’s the second day in a row we got down five runs real early in the game, and it’s tough to come back. You see C.J. with those two doubles and J.D. had a couple of nice at-bats and Shuck smoked that ball [for a triple]. There was a lot of good things, too. We wish Bud would have gotten that 0-2 slider down in the dirt [to Cano], but that three-run bomb, when you look at the score, wound up to be pretty important.” — Astros manager Brad Mills.
What’s next: Veteran catcher Humberto Quintero, who’s missed the first two weeks of spring action because of a bulging disk in his back, will make his first start of the Grapefruit League season when the Astros meet the Mets at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday in Kissimmee. Quintero, last year’s starter on Opening Day, is battling to make the club is a backup role. Right-hander Livan Hernandez will start for the Astros.
Injury update: Catcher Humberto Quintero (back) is scheduled to make his first start Sunday. … Left-hander Sergio Escalona (elbow) threw live batting practice Friday to hitters.
In lieu of St. Patrick’s Day, there are no photos today. The photos will return Sunday.
The Astros got a good look at a pair of candidates for the starting rotation Saturday, with veteran left-hander Zach Duke and young right-hander Jordan Lyles both throwing four innings in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays. You can check out the boxscore here.
Here’s the breakdown:
What went right: Both Jordan Lyles and Zach Duke pitched pretty well, with both getting hurt by home runs. Duke gave up a two-run homer to former Pirates teammate Jose Bautista and a solo homer to Travis Snider. Lyles allowed a homer to Bautista, who’s one of the premier sluggers in the game.
Duke brought up a good point after his outing, saying he would have approached the at-bat to Bautista differently in the regular season with first base open. That’s why you can’t get too worked up about Spring Training results this time of year, especially for a veteran guy like Duke. Lyles continues to work with his new curveball grip and said he was happy with those pitches.
The Astros had eight hits from eight different players: George Springer, Matt Downs, J.D. Martinez, Chris Snyder, Chris Johnson, Jonathan Singleton, Joe Thurston and Brad Snyder. Chris Snyder, Singleton and Thurston hit doubles, with Thurston picking up the Astros’ only RBI. Springer scored a run on a balk.
What went wrong: Well, the Astros did give up three home runs, but Jose Bautista — who hit two of them — is going to do that to a lot of teams this year. In fact, he did it to the Astros last year in Toronto.
The Astros didn’t string many hits together and it didn’t help that they hit into two double plays and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Jordan Schafer (.333 spring average), Jack Cust (.000), Brett Wallace (.083) and Marwin Gonzalez (.083) each went 0-for-3. Gonzalez, who has the reputation as a polished defensive player, committed a fielding error.
After a hot start, the Astros’ bats have been stifled three games in a row.
What they said: “The Bautista at-bat, obviously if this were the regular season I would have worked at it a little different knowing I had first base open. The Snider home run, I wanted to go away with a fastball and threw it down the middle and good hitters hit those pitches out. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how it went.” — Astros pitcher Zach Duke on his four-inning outing Saturday.
What’s next: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who led the Astros in wins last year, makes his second start of the spring when the Astros return to Kissimmee to play the Detroit Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday. The game should also mark the spring debut for infielder Angel Sanchez, who injured his back early in camp and has been cleared to play. The Astros have not announced what other pitchers will throw.
Injury update: Non-roster outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Travis Buck are both nursing mild oblique strains and should return to action in a day or two. … Left-hander Sergio Escalona (elbow inflammation) is throwing at 60 to 90 feet and could throw in the bullpen on Sunday or Monday. … Infielder Angel Sanchez (back) is expected to play Sunday and will be removed from the injury report. … Catcher Humberto Quintero (bulging disk) is catching bullpens.
Here are the photos from Dunedin:
In his morning gathering with the media on Wednesday, Astros manager Brad Mills told reporters he wished he had some news, but then backtracked. No news at this point in camp means no one is injured, and through two days of pitchers and catchers working out everybody remains in once piece. It won’t continue, but for now the Astros are healthy.
Mills did say the team doesn’t plan to have an intra-squad game like it’s had in years past a day or two prior to the first Grapefruit League game of the season.
“We decided that wouldn’t really benefit us that much,” Mills said. “We’re going to have that be a full day [of workouts] the day before we start playing games. The main thing is that is our pitchers really weren’t getting out of it what we’d like them to get out of it.”
Here are some pictures from the morning: