Results tagged ‘ Tommy Manzella ’

Day 35: Injuries mount in final week of camp

Remember how we all joked about Camp Quiet? That was in February, when one of the coldest winters in Florida history forced everyone to wear jackets for workouts. That was back when the Astros weren’t making any news, except for mild ankle sprains by Casey Daigle and Jeff Fulchino.

Things sure have changed.

Lance Berkman, Brett Myers, Roy Oswalt, Michael Bourn, Tommy Manzella, Jason Bourgeois, Alberto Arias and Yorman Bazardo have all gone down with injuries. Suddenly, Kaz Matsui is the healthiest guy on the team. Most of the injuries are strains and not serious, though Arias could be headed for the DL and Berkman had minor knee surgery.

Oswalt joined the M*A*S*H unit Friday when he left his start against the Pirates after four innings with a mild left hamstring strain. Oswalt isn’t concerned, but GM Ed Wade showed enough concern to send Oswalt to Houston to be examined.

The Astros did have some good news Friday, rallying for four runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4. Chris Johnson’s two-out, two-run walk-off home run that struck the batters eye in center field a few feet from the top, won the game.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Before his hamstring started to bother him, Oswalt looked terrific. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, striking out six batters in that span. He threw 60 pitches (41 strikes) and gave up three hits and one run in four innings. Brandon Lyon threw one scoreless innings and appears to have put his shoulder troubles in the past.

How about Drew Locke and T.J. Steele? These two guys continue to impress with how they’re swinging the bat in Grapefruit League play when they’re pulled over from Minor League camp. Steele started in center field and went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, and Locke had a three-run triple in the eighth inning in his only at-bat.

Johnson and non-roster first baseman Chris Shelton are making things interesting. Johnson, who has been pretty much pegged for Triple-A Round Rock since the spring started, is hitting .326 and leads the team with five homers and is second with 14 RBIs.

“I’ve got to remember, though, it’s just spring,” he said. “These don’t count yet.”

When asked if he feels he has opened some eyes, he said: “We’ve got a new group of guys coming in and a whole new coaching staff, and that’s all I’m trying to do is show them what I can do if they’ve never seen me play before.”

Shelton, whose double in the ninth set up Johnson’s homer, is hitting .333 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 36 at-bats. He could be making a push to make the team, considering Berkman could begin the year on the DL and they could carry an extra infielder by going with a four-man rotation.

Competition at the end of camp is a good thing.

“That’s the way you want to do it,” Mills said. “You hope you have to make those types of decisions. You hope they come down to the end like this, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

The not-so-good: The only regulars the Astros had in the starting lineup Friday were third baseman Pedro Feliz and left fielder Carlos Lee, so perhaps that helps explain why Pirates starter Zach Duke shut them out on two hits for 6 2/3 innings. When the benches emptied in the eighth, the bats came alive.

Bud Norris, who was originally scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game, followed Oswalt and Lyon and threw four innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs. Norris struggled in the ninth against some Pirates hitters that aren’t going to make the team, but Mills was glad he was able to get up and down four times after missing a start with the flu.

What did Norris take from the 58-pitch outing?

“It was a whirlwind because I thought I was on the Minor League side, but I’m glad [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] moved it around so I could pitch out there,” he said. “I felt good, my body felt good and arm felt good, and I’m glad I pitched as long as I did. I had only had 7 1/3 innings coming in and that was the biggest part. I completely understood the reason for it and I’m glad they go me out there.”

What they said: “This late in camp, there’s always concern, no doubt about it. The one positive on that note is he wanted to go back out. He said he felt the strain in his left hamstring. He’s concerned about it, but he’s not so scared that he wasn’t willing to go out there and pitch.” – Mills on the health of Oswalt.

What’s next: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will make his penultimate start of the spring when he faces the Tampa Bay Rays at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Osceola County Stadium. Rodriguez, who threw 90 pitches in his previous start Monday, has gotten knocked around this spring. He’s given up 20 hits and 16 earned runs in 13 innings in his four starts. Matt Lindstrom, Jeff Fulchino, Tim Byrdak and Yorman Bazardo are also scheduled to pitch.

Astro-notes: Michael Bourn, who’s been out a week with a strained oblique, went 1-for-4 with a stolen base in a Minor League game Friday and said he’s ready to return to action. Mills said Bourn could be in the lineup Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. … The Astros trimmed their roster to 38 players on Friday, optioning left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright to Triple-A Round Rock and reassigning right-hander Shane Loux and infielder Oswaldo Navarro to Minor League camp.

Tuesday morning Astros update

The Astros brought a shell of a team to Bradenton to face the Pirates on Tuesday, and it had little to with injuries. Michael Bourn, Tommy Manzella and Lance Berkman are injured, but with five long road trips in the next seven days and players ailing, manager Brad Mills doesn’t want to ride anyone into the ground.

For example, outfielder Cory Sullivan, who had played six days in a row, didn’t travel to Bradenton, and neither did Carlos Lee or Hunter Pence. The Astros had 11 players from Minor League camp travel with the Major League club Tuesday: pitchers Daniel Meszaros, Erick Abreu and T.J. Burton, catcher Federico Hernandez, infielders Michael Garciaparra, Mark Ori and Matt Kata and outfielders Collin DeLome, David Cook, Drew Locke and T.J. Steele.

Mills said Pence and Lee would make the trip Wednesday to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to play the Mets.

“Just because they’re healthy, we still have to be able to give them their time,” Mills said. “Those guys need to stay on schedules so we’re going to see a lot of Minor League guys.”

Mills didn’t really have much to report on the health front Tuesday, saying the club was still waiting on MRI results from right-hander Alberto Arias, who has a right shoulder strain. Mills said Bourn (strained oblique) and Manzella (strained quadriceps) felt better Tuesday, but Bourn still isn’t taking swings in the cage.

Mills said Berkman felt much better Monday, meaning the swelling had gone down. That will enable him to do more rehab. When asked if he had a better idea of Berkman’s availability for Opening Day, Mills said: “We want to make sure he’s 100 percent and gets back to playing with confidence and they’re no health issues.”

He didn’t have an update on outfielder Jason Bourgeois (left hamstring strain) or infielder Oswaldo Navarro, who left Friday’s game with a strained right hip flexor.

Mills said some positions battles are starting to clarify, but he wouldn’t give any specific details. Jason Castro and J.R. Towles are competing to be the starting catcher and there doesn’t appear to be a front-runner. Brandon Lyon or Matt Lindstrom will begin the season as closer, and with Lyon appearing in only his second game of the spring on Tuesday, it’s not crazy to assume Lindstrom might have the leg up at this point. Lindstrom has thrown the ball well, too.

There could be another backup infield spot open if Manzella and/or Berkman start the year on the disabled list, and the bullpen battle is intriguing. Sammy Gervacio and Wilton Lopez have put themselves in the mix with their superb springs and could push a veteran like Gary Majewski out of the way.

Monday morning Astros update

Astros manager Brad 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) was scheduled to get an MRI on Monday morning.

“Lance came into the office and said he felt better today and that’s always good to hear from him,” Mills said. “We’re trying to keep his range of motion where it needs to be and keep the swelling down. Bourgeois felt better when he came in today, and Manzella is feeling and looking better. Those things are good. Arias is getting an MRI this morning and we’ll looking forward to hearing back from him. Bazardo is getting stronger every day and playing catch and doing all his things.”

Arias, Bazardo and Bourgeois are fighting for spots on the club, and Mills admitted their inability to get on the field isn’t helping their chances.

“We’re not looking at this as a detriment to them because we want them healthy, but at the same time if they can’t go out and perform they can’t show us,” he said. “Jason has been able to show us quite a bit. Bazardo hasn’t been able to show us very much and it’s more of a situation with him than Jason because of that.”

Bourgeois strained his left hamstring Sunday, a few weeks after he strained his right hamstring early in camp. Considering Bourgeois’ speed is his biggest asset, the injury is frustrating.

“That’s my game,” Bourgeois said. “It’s unfortunate but these things happen.”

Bourgeois was able to play catch and take batting practice, but he’s not going to do any quick movements. Manzella is still at least a week away from returning.

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Because of rainouts, split-squad games and Monday’s off day, the starting rotation has been thrown a little off. Wandy Rodriguez will start Monday against the Cardinals, with Felipe Paulino to pitch Tuesday in Bradenton against the Pirates. Reliever Casey Daigle will make a spot start Wednesday at the New York Mets.

Oswalt, who threw one inning Sunday in Kissimmee before rain washed out the game against the Mets, will take his turn Friday. Bud Norris and Brian Moehler, both of whom pitched against Boston in Sunday’s split-squad game, will be worked in. Norris said he might pitch in a Minor League game.

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With starting shortstop Tommy Manzella out for at least another week with a strained quadriceps, veteran Geoff Blum was scheduled to see his first action of the spring at shortstop on Monday. Blum plays primarily first base and third base at this point in his career, but he has played 190 games at shortstop in his career.

“We have to look at all of our options,” Mills said. “With Tommy being down for a few days we want to make sure we see [Edwin] Maysonet over there and [Jeff] Keppinger and Blummer. We’ll keep all options open. This is the first time we put him out there this year. I’ve got to see him play out there. I do know he’s got good hands, a good arm and his experience and being able to position himself where he needs to be should help his range.”

Sunday morning Astros update

I’m back from a respite in Houston and am in Kissimmee for the rest of the spring, so expect frequent updates. Anyway, I’ll have a story later today on the rash of injuries that’s taken over the club the last few days, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • 1B Lance Berkman had fluid drained from his knee Saturday, one week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out some loose cartilage. Berkman is walking with a limp and is still sore, but he’s not ruling out returning by Opening Day.
  • RHP Alberto Arias will undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. Arias has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain and has lost some velocity on his fastball. The Astros want to get a better look at the shoulder to find out what’s going on.
  • SS Tommy Manzella, who was diagnosed with a strained quad, is out of baseball drills again today. Manzella said he’s going to take it slow and will be out a few days. General manager Ed Wade told him Sunday morning he didn’t want him to be “Braveheart.”
  • CF Michael Bourn was held out of Sunday’s game because of a strained oblique. Bourn said he was sore, and he did do some bunting in the batting cage. He’s listed as day-to-day, but Wade said he won’t play until he’s 100 percent.
  • RF Yorman Bazardo, who strained his shoulder a week ago, has been throwing on the side while the training staff works to improve his range of motion.

 

Is Tommy Manzella the next Adam Everett?

Is Tommy Manzella the next Adam Everett? This won’t be the first or the last time the two men have been/will be lumped into the same all-field, little-hit category. The Astros are hoping Manzella has a lot of Everett in him, meaning he’ll make all the plays at shortstop and shore up the defense. But they also hope he makes more strides offensively, too.

Everett, whom the Astros acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in 1998, played seven seasons in Houston and was a key starter on the 2004 team that became the first Astros club to win a playoff series and the 2005 World Series team. He hit .248 with 35 homers in those seven seasons in Houston, but his master glove work made up for any offensive shortcomings.

Manzella, a third-round pick in 2005 out of Tulane, is of a similar mold. He’s bigger than Everett, but has been a Major League-ready shortstop for at least a few years. He’s a career .268 hitter with 21 homers and 205 RBIs in 521 Minor League games (Everett was a career .258 hitter with 23 homers and 164 RBIs in 472 Minor League games).

Last year at Triple-A Round Rock, Manzella hit .289 with nine homers and 56 RBIs. He was called up at the end of the season, but basically spent the whole season in Round Rock after splitting 2008 between Round Rock and Double-A Corpus Christi and 2007 between Corpus Christi and Class A Salem. His offense has improved each year, hitting .289 at Corpus Christi in 2007 and .299 in 2008. He hit .219 at Round Rock in 2008 and .289 in 2009.

Everett reached the big leagues at the age of 24 in 2001 and played in only nine games. He was handed the starting shortstop job on Opening Day in 2002, but spent most of the season in Triple-A New Orleans. He didn’t play a full year in Houston until the 2004 season when he was 27.

Manzella will turn 27 shortly after Opening Day and is getting his first real shot at the Majors a little later than Everett got his. Manzella knows his offense is the key to how long he sticks in the Majors, but the Astros certainly are believers in his future considering they tabbed him as their starting shortstop months ago.

Sure, the Astros could have went out and signed a free-agent shortstop once they walked away from Miguel Tejada, but they felt they could spend money wiser elsewhere and be in good hands with Manzella.

Time will only tell how Manzella winds up stacking up against Everett, but he appears a little further along offensively than Everett. This much is for sure: it should be a treat watching him play shortstop when the season starts.

Which players are you most excited about seeing this spring?

I’m back in town, but still on vacation technically until Thursday. In the meantime, Spring Training is casting a rather large shadow over me and everyone else who’s going to be in Florida in a little more than two weeks, so it’s time to look ahead. No more mention of Miguel Tejada or Jose Valverde.

The Astros figure to have several intriguing storylines this spring, from a new manager in Brad Mills and several new members of the coaching staff, to key new faces in Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz. Then there’s younger players that are expected to make an impact, including a pair of rookies who could start: shortstop Tommy Manzella and catcher Jason Castro.

There are other interesting players who aren’t going to make headlines at camp: Chia-Jen Lo, Fernando Abad, Gary Majewski, Cory Sullivan, Jason Bourgeois, etc. I am going to be tracking the progress of all, but I am most intrigued by Manzella and Castro, and that’s simply because they could play huge roles. In fact, the club is banking on Manzella to do just that in April and Castro at some point this year to be a factor.

Which players are you, the fans, most excited about seeing?

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