Results tagged ‘ Wandy Rodriguez ’

Day 36: Rodriguez finds his footing

The Astros tied the Rays 4-4 in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon are now 12-10-1 with five Grapefruit League games remaining. Let’s get on with the breakdown:

The good: After giving up three runs, two walks and three hits in the first inning at Osceola County Stadium, Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez settled down to retire 11 of the final 13 batters he faced in his final Grapefruit League start of the spring.

Rodriguez credited his turnaround to this footwork. He said his plant foot (right foot) was pointing towards the first-base dugout and hindering his delivery. Once he started pointing his foot towards the plate, he got on track.

“I didn’t feel comfortable,” Rodriguez said. “I could feel it in my pitches and thought about [his footwork]. The next three innings, I put my front leg [pointing forward] and was throwing good. I felt comfortable.”

Rodriguez allowed five hits, three runs, three walks and struck out four batters in his 80-pitch outing. He said he was scheduled to 100 pitches, but was cut down to 80 because he’s going to pitch on three days of rest Wednesday in a Minor League game.

Rodriguez, who will likely throw the second game of the regular season, is flying to Houston on Wednesday night to be with his wife, who is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child on Thursday. Rodriguez went 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA in five spring starts.

The good pitching continued after Rodriguez left the game. Matt Lindstrom pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning and has allowed four hits and no runs in 7 2/3 innings. Jeff Fulchino allowed two hits in two scoreless innings to improve his ERA to 2.25 in eight innings. And Tim Byrdak threw a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 9.00. Chris Sampson pitched a scoreless inning in his fifth consecutive scoreless outing of the spring and has a 2.79 ERA.

The bad: Other than Wandy’s rough first inning, there’s not much bad that can be pulled from this game. The Rays scored another run in the 10th off Minor League pitcher Matt Ginter, but Houston played error-free ball and got some terrific pitching.

The offensive struggled against Rays Opening Day starter James Shields, who took a shutout into the sixth inning before Carlos Lee and Pedro Feliz hit back-to-back home runs.

What they said: “The first inning, you never want to have the problems, and he’s had a couple of issues in the first inning. But he’s come back and thrown the ball extremely well and made that adjustment. They’ve been working on some things, and hopefully the adjustment will come out to be exactly what he needs to be.” – Astros manager Brad Mills on Rodriguez.

What’s next: Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who’s coming off a strong outing that helped his chances of winning the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation, will make his fifth start of the spring when the Astros face the Florida Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. Paulino held the Pirates to one run and seven hits and struck out six in five innings Tuesday. Casey Daigle and Gary Majewski are also scheduled to pitch.

Injury updates:

  • CF Michael Bourn (strained oblique) returned to Grapefruit League play Saturday after missing a week and went 1-for-3 with three put-outs in center field against Tampa Bay.
  • RHP Roy Oswalt (mild left hamstring strain) will be examined Monday in Houston by Dr. Brian McCann. Oswalt left his previous start Friday after feeling some tightness in the hamstring, but he told reporters Saturday it wasn’t a big deal.
  • RHP Brett Myers (mild left groin strain) said Saturday he felt good. Bud Norris is scheduled to start in his place in the rotation Tuesday, but Myers is expected to be slotted into the rotation as long as he doesn’t have a setback.
  • C J.R. Towles (left hamstring strain) pinch-hit on Saturday and went 0-for-1. He had missed the two previous games, but did get three at-bats in a Minor League game on Friday without any problems.
  • SS Tommy Manzella (strained right quadriceps) is doing most baseball drills, but won’t be cleared to get into a game until the Astros are comfortable with his side-to-side agility exercises. Manzella said he’d like to get in a Minor League game soon. He’s hitting .300 (9-for-30) this spring.
  • OF Jason Bourgeois (strained left hamstring) hasn’t played in a week but is improving and considered day-to-day.
  • RHP Yorman Bazardo (right shoulder discomfort) underwent an MRI on his shoulder Saturday, the results of which are pending. Bazardo hasn’t pitched since feeling discomfort in his shoulder while throwing a pitch March 13.
  • RHP Albert Arias (rotator cuff impingement) is likely headed to the disabled list to start the season. He threw off flat ground for seven minutes Friday and said he felt good. He hasn’t pitched in a game since March 9.

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.

Day 18: Astros pitchers take a beating

With the wind blowing out at Osceola County Stadium and pitchers struggling to find their spots, the Astros were pounded 16-4 by the Florida Marlins on Wednesday. There’s not much to say about this one, other than nobody got hurt.

Here’s the breakdown:

The good: Right-hander Henry Villar, who struck out 109 batters in 90 innings at Class A Lexington last year, pitched his second scoreless inning of the spring and struck out one batter. He was the only pitcher not to give up any runs on a difficult day on the mound.

Kaz Matsui, Oswaldo Navarro, Lance Berkman, Pedro Feliz, Edwin Maysonet, Drew Locke and Chris Johnson had the only hits for the Astros. Locked, called up from Minor League camp, doubled as a pinch-hitter, and Johnson socked his second homer of the spring to tie Hunter Pence for the team lead.

The bad: It was an ugly day for the pitchers.

Wandy Rodriguez made his second start of the spring and gave up six hits, six runs (four earned) and struck out one batter in three innings. He allowed back-to-back home runs in the first to Mike Stanton and Dan Uggla. He seemed to struggle with his control, but he has about four starts left to iron things out.

Felipe Paulino followed and was supposed to pitch three innings, but he threw nearly 40 pitches in the fourth and didn’t come back out.

Paulino, vying for a rotation spot, allowed three hits, two runs and two walks in his one inning. He struck out Ronny Paulino looking on a nasty breaking ball to strand the bases loaded in the fourth. Gary Majewski was roughed up for three hits and four runs in one inning, and Wesley Wright allowed three runs and three hits in one inning.

What they said: “The thing was they didn’t miss too many balls. Is it a cause for concern? You never like it. You just don’t like it, but Wandy is a guy that might not have been hitting his spots and they didn’t miss them. The ball was coming out of his hands fine and he looks good and feels good. It’s not a cause for concern. The guys stayed aggressive with the bats. The conditions aren’t the best, but they [the Marlins] didn’t miss too many balls offensively.” – manager Brad Mills.

What’s next: The Astros hit the road again, making the short trip to Viera, Fla., to face the Washington Nationals at 12:05 CT on Thursday. Roy Oswalt will make his second start of the spring and is expected to go three innings. Also on the roster to pitch are Matt Lindstrom, Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino, Polin Trinidad, Shane Loux, Chia-Jen Lo and Yorman Bazardo.

John Lannan will start for the Nats.

Astro-notes: Right-hander Brandon Lyon will face live hitters Friday for the first time this spring after throwing 30 pitches in a side session Wednesday. He hasn’t faced a hitter this spring after having a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January. “He threw outstanding today,” Mills said. “He picked it up a notch. It was a very positive day, and he’s happy about that, we’re happy about that.” …  Catcher Jason Castro was sent home from Wednesday’s workout with a case of the stomach flu. He’s scheduled to start behind the plate Thursday. … Right-hander Alberto Arias, who strained a muscle in his upper back/shoulder/neck area, will not throw until he’s examined Friday by team doctors in Kissimmee.

Mills sets rotation for first 3 Spring games

Astros manager Brad Mills revealed the first three starting pitchers for the Grapefruit League season, which begins Thursday against Washington in Kissimmee, Fla.

Right-hander Brett Myers will start the opener Thursday, followed by left-hander Wandy Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., and Roy Oswalt on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves in Kissimmee. Houston will use six starters this spring, with Bud Norris, Brian Moehler and Felipe Paulino getting the other starts.

“We’re going to have some guys piggyback and switch back and forth as we go along,” Mills said. “That’s where we are right now the first three days.”

The Astros will play an intrasquad game Wednesday and will use 14 pitchers – seven pitchers on each team throwing one inning. Third base-coach Dave Clark will manage one side against first-base coach Bobby Meacham.

Mills said he will be able to get other pitchers – Wesley Wright, Yorman Bazardo, for example — some starts because of the three split-squad games the club has and a “B” squad game on Thursday.

Astros win arbitration case

The Astros’ run of success in arbitration hearings continued Thursday when an arbitration panel ruled in favor of the club in its case against pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who will make a salary $5 million this year. He was seeking $7 million.

Rodriguez, who led the club in wins (14), starts (33), innings pitched (205 2/3) and strikeouts (193), still nearly doubles his salary from the $2.65 million he made in 2009. Arbitrators Richard Bloch, Elizabeth Neumeier and Frederic Horowitz made their decision after hearing the case Wednesday at the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“We’re pleased with the result,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “Now, it is time to focus on the upcoming season. Wandy is a tremendous pitcher who we think very highly of. We expect great things from him.”

Rodriguez, 31, has a career 51-52 record with a 4.33 ERA and has made at least 20 starts of each of his five Major League seasons. He finished ninth in the National League last year in ERA and was 10th in strikeouts per nine innings.

The Astros have not lost a case since 1996 (Rick Wilkins). They beat Mark Loretta and Jose Valverde in 2008, but their most recent case to go to hearing a prior to that was with Darryl Kile in 1997.

How the rotation shapes up with Myers

The Astros squeezed a few more bucks together and have reached an agreement wiht free-agent pitcher Brett Myers, pending a physical. That’s key, considering he missed most of last season after undergoing surgery on his hip.

If Myers is healthy for the entire season, this could be a key signing for the Astros. Myers will likely slide into the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, leaving Bud Norris, Felipe Paulino and Brian Moehler battling for two spots. I have to think Norris’ performance, youth and high ceiling give him a spot, and Moehler’s veteran presence and experience puts him ahead of Paulino.

Paulino has the stuff to succeed and could very well pitch his way into the rotation in the spring, forcing the Astros to slot him somewhere. That is a problem general manager Ed Wade and manager Brad Mills would love to have.

So as it stands, here is what the Astros’ rotation could look like once they get Myers in the fold.

Roy Oswalt, RHP, 32 years old (8-6, 4.12 ERA in 30 starts last year) — Oswalt, who needs only seven wins to tie the club career record, has been slowed by back problems the past three seasons, forcing the Astros to shut him down last year in mid-September. He still has the ability to be one of the best in the game if he remains healthy.

Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, 31 years old (14-12, 3.02 ERA in 33 starts) — The Astros can only hope Rodriguez’s coming-out party wasn’t a one-year show. He led the team in wins, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts and quality starts (23). He pitched like an ace for most of the season.

Brett Myers, RHP, 29 years old (4-3, 4.84 ERA in 18 games, including 10 starts) — He missed most of the season because of hip surgery, but he’s a hoss when healthy. He started at least 30 games in each season from 2003-2008, with the exception of 2007 when he was moved to closer and saved 21 games. He’s a significant upgrade to the rotation.

Bud Norris, RHP, 24 years old (6-3, 3.53 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts) — Coming off an impressive rookie season in which he won his first three and final three starts, Norris could be poised for a breakthrough season.

Brian Moehler, RHP, 38 years old (8-12, 5.47 ERA in 29 starts) — The Astros picked up his $3 million option for 2010. He has the occasional rough outing, but he takes the ball every fifth day and is a workhorse. Excluding his first two and his last two starts, he was 8-8 wiht a 4.25 ERA in his other 25 starts.

Other candidates — RHP Felipe Paulino (3-11, 6.27 ERA), RHP Yorman Bazardo (1-3, 7.88 ERA), LHP Wesley Wright (3-4, 5.44 ERA as a reliever), RHP Wilton Lopez (0-2, 8.38 ERA).


Astros slowly getting healthy

The news was very good for the Astros in the health department on Friday. Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and LaTroy Hawkins each threw successful bullpen sessions and are close to returning.

Rodriguez, who left his last start Saturday in St. Louis with a hamstring strain, will start Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched since straining his lower back July 28, will return to the rotation Tuesday against Florida, assuming all goes well with his scheduled bullpen Sunday.

And then there’s Hawkins, who appears like he’ll be able to come off the disabled list when scheduled on Wednesday. Good thing, too, because Doug Brocail went on the DL for the third time this season Friday, this time with a shoulder strain. Could we have seen the last of Brocail? I hope not, but considering his age (42) and medical history (15 DL trips) he could be done.

That brings us to Lance Berkman. Big Puma is still nursing a sore left calf, but said Friday he feels he could play. The Astros, however, are taking a more cautious approach, but based on his comments Friday, it appears Berkman could return by Monday.

If Rodriguez, Oswalt and Berkman return, stay healthy and perform like they did before they got injured, the Astros still have a chance. They’re five games out with 53 to play, so there is no time to waste for the local nine.

Astros expect quiet deadline

Astros general manager Ed Wade reiterated his stance Saturday that he doesn’t see his club making an impact trade before the July 31 deadline.

Wade said the Astros don’t want to give up prospects and aren’t in position to add salary. Also, Houston entered play Sunday three games out of first place in the NL Central.

“We’ll have conversations with clubs,” he said. “I just don’t want to raise undo expectations that we’re going to really be active at the trading deadline because that’s not going to be the case. We’re not going to be in a position to make a deal of significance.

“We’ve talked about where our payroll is at this point in time and we’re going to be very reluctant to give up a lot of young players. But we’ll continue to have conversations if there’s ways to improve.”

The kinds of things Wade anticipates doing are more along the lines of adding inexpensive pieces like Chris Coste, who was claimed off waivers July 10. Relievers Chris Sampson and Doug Brocail could also return from the disabled list soon.

“A year ago at this time we had a real pressing need for starting pitching and bullpen help and we went out and got [Randy] Wolf and [LaTroy] Hawkins,” Wade said. “The way Roy [Oswalt] and Wandy [Rodriguez] are pitching at the top of the rotation and the way the other three guys have gotten us deep enough into games, puts us in a position where we’re not in dire need to go out and add starting pitching.”

Astros line up pitching after All-Star break

Wandy Rodriguez, and not Roy Oswalt, will get the ball to start the second half of the season Thursday in Los Angeles, manager Cecil Cooper said Saturday. Cooper wants to give Oswalt an extra day of rest to recover from the bone bruise on two of his fingers, an injury he suffered swinging the bat in the sixth inning Friday.

Oswalt, who will start Friday at Dodger Stadium, said Saturday he will be ready to pitch and expects to be recovered from his injury. Mike Hampton, who was roughed up Saturday, will start Saturday at Dodger Stadium and Russ Ortiz will start the final game of the series.

Cooper said Rodriguez is staying in Houston during the All-Star break and will throw a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park.


In case you missed it, the Astros claimed catcher Chris Coste off waivers on Friday. Coste, who spent 11 years in the Minor Leagues, including five in independent ball, broke in with the Phillies in 2006 and last year won a World Series ring. Wearing No. 41, he saw his first action for the Astros in the seventh inning Saturday.

The addition of Coste makes the Astros the first team in the Majors to have two players born in North Dakota on the roster at the same time. Coste was born in Fargo, N.D., and Darin Erstad is from nearby Jamestown, N.D. Those in Jamestown upset that it was reported their favorite son was from Fargo should take note that Erstad was quick to remind a reporter of his real hometown and urged everyone to refrain from writing letters.