Results tagged ‘ Wilton Lopez ’

History of Luhnow’s major trades in Houston.

Here’s a look at the significant deals made by Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow since he took over 14 months ago (you can click on each player’s name for his 2012 stats):

Date: Dec. 14, 2011.

Astros receive: SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Kyle Weiland.

Red Sox receive: RHP Mark Melancon.

The skinny: Luhnow’s first trade as GM was a good one. Weiland showed promise last spring before a serious arm infection ended his season, but Lowrie proved to be one of the team’s top offensive weapons when healthy. Luhnow wound up dealing Lowrie to the A’s for three players earlier this week, giving this trade even a more significant return. Melancon was a bust in Boston and has landed in Pittsburgh.

Date: March 21, 2012.

Astros receive: LHP Kevin Chapman, player to be name named later (OF D’Andre Toney).

Royals receive: C Humberto Quintero, OF Jason Bourgeois.

The skinny: Quintero and Bourgeois were back-ups who couldn’t crack the starting lineup of a last-place team, and Luhnow managed to trade them for two Minor Leaguers. Chapman had a good year in relief at Double-A Corpus Christi last season and could be a left-handed option in the pen down the road. Toney played at Greeneville and remains a work in progress.

Date: July 4, 2012.

Astros receive: IF Matt Dominguez, LHP Rob Rasmussen.

Marlins receive: 1B Carlos Lee, cash.

The skinny: The first of five major trades in July, the Marlins were desperate for first base help and gave the Astros two Minor League players for the aging slugger. The Astros were happy to get him off their roster, and were even willing to pay the bulk of his remaining contract. Dominguez was brought up to the Majors and was impressive, hitting .284 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 109 at-bats. Everyone knew he could play defense, but he showed enough offensively that he’ll enter spring as the starting third baseman. Rasmussen was shipped to the Dodgers for RHP John Ely a few months later.

Date: July 20, 2012.

Astros receive: RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, RHP Joe Musgrove, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, a player to be named later (RHP Kevin Comer).

Blue Jays receive: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP David Carpenter.

The skinny: The Astros acquired seven players, including four Minor Leaguers and a player to be named later, in a 10-player deal with the Jays. Happ had been with the team two years and could never gain consistency, while Lyon was in the final year of his three-year deal. This trade was more about the Minor League arms the Astros received, while addressing a catching shortage in the system, more than it was about the two big league players they received. Neither Cordero nor Francisco made it to the end of the season in Houston. Musgrove, Comer and Perez are among the Astros’ top 20 prospects.

Date: July 21, 2012.

Astros receive: RHP Matthew Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters, a player to be named later (RHP Chris Devenski)

White Sox receive: RHP Brett Myers, cash.

The skinny: With Myers having a good shot at vesting his 2013 option that would have paid him $10 million, the Astros sent him to the White Sox and stockpiled a few more Minor League arms. Myers was having a solid season as closer after starting 66 games the previous two years in Houston. Heidenreich finished the year in the rotation at Double-A Corpus Christi and pitched well, while Walters took his lumps as a starter in the hitter-friendly environment in Lancaster.

Date: July 25, 2012.

Astros receive: LHP Rudy Owens, OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Colton Cain.

Pirates receive: LHP Wandy Rodriguez, cash.

The skinny: The rebuilding effort continued as the Astros sent Rodriguez – the last remaining member from the 2005 World Series team – to the Pirates for three more prospects. The Astros had to pay a substantial part of Rodriguez’s remaining contract, but they felt getting more prospect was worth the price. Owens will come to Major League camp and will likely start the year in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Grossman will also be at big league camp after getting on-base at a .422 clip in 36 games last year in Double-A Corpus Christi.

Date: July 29, 2012.

Astros receive:  IF Bobby Borchering, OF Marc Krauss.

D-backs receive: 3B Chris Johnson.

The skinny: The Astros pulled off their fifth trade of the month. Houston wasn’t actively shopping Johnson, but he had recently gone on a tear and some teams were getting aggressive in their pursuit of the 27-year-old third baseman. Unlike the previous trades in July in which the Astros stockpiled the pitching, the Johnson trade brought a pair of bats, and in the case of Borchering, maybe some much-needed power to the system. Borchering hit four homers in 30 games at Double-A Corpus Christi, giving him 24 homers and 86 RBIs for the season as a whole. Krauss killed it in Corpus Christi, hitting .414 with a .514 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage with five homers and 16 RBIs in only seven games. He finished the year in the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Date: Dec. 5, 2012.

Astros receive: RHP Alex White, RHP Alex Gillingham.

Rockies receive: RHP Wilton Lopez and player to be named later or cash..

The skinny: Less than a week after the Astros tried to send Lopez to the Phillies, they were able to use the arbitration-eligible relief pitcher to acquire White and right-hander Gillingham. White appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for the Rockies last season and was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA. He split the season between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA. He will battle for a spot in the rotation this spring, but could pitch out of the bullpen.

Date: Dec. 19, 2012

Astros receive: RHP John Ely.

Dodgers receive: LHP Rob Rasmussen.

The skinny: The Astros gave up a 23-year-old left-hander they had acquired only months earlier for a 26-year-old right-hander in Ely, who gives them Major League experience. Ely, who is 4-13 with a 5.70 ERA over three seasons with the Dodgers, is expected to compete for a spot in Houston’s rotation, though he could begin the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Date: Feb. 4, 2013.

Astros receive: RHP Brad Peacock, OF/1B Chris Carter, C Max Stassi.

A’s receive: SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Fernando Rodriguez.

The skinny: The Astros shipped Lowrie, who was set to make $2.4 million this year, to the A’s along with Rodriguez and go three young players. The trade was text book for a rebuilding club — trade an established player with a rising salary for youth. Peacock will compete for a rotation spot, and Carter is expected to be a fixture in the lineup. He’s a right-handed hitter with plenty of power. Stassi becomes one of the Astros top catching prospects in a position where there was a definite need in the Minor Leagues.

Astros face arbitration decisions

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club plans to tender contracts to their four remaining arbitration-eligible players – pitchers Bud Norris, Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright and shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lopez, of course, has been subject of trade speculation, but for now he remains with Houston.

The deadline to tender a contract is 10:59 p.m. CT Friday.

Norris, Lopez and Wright are all eligible for arbitration for the first time, and Lowrie is going through the process a second time. Each player will submit a desired salary for 2013, and the Astros will also submit their offer. That serves as the starting point for the negotiations, and both sides typically meet in the middle

If the sides can’t find common ground, they will take their case before an arbitration panel in February that will determine the players’ salary. In this scenario, this is no middle ground. The panel will side with either the player or the team, but negotiations can continue right up to the hearing.

Astros assistant general manager David Stearns is going to be spearheading the team’s arbitration process.

“He has some experience in that area, both from the labor relations side of Major League baseball, as well as the team side,” Luhnow said. “Our cases are nothing too complex at this point. They’re all first-year guys, with the exception of Jed, who’s a second-year guy. We went through preparing for a cast last year. We’re in pretty good shape, and I feel good about we’re going to get all our guys done.”

Here’s a closer look at each player:

– Jed Lowrie made $1.15 million in his first season in Houston in 2012 and was putting up All-Star numbers before a sprained right ankle suffered in mid July put him on the shelf for 52 games. He wound up hitting .244 with a career-high 16 homers and 42 RBIs. Lowrie could as much as double his salary from a year ago.

– Bud Norris had a strange year statistically, going 7-13 with a 4.65 ERA in 29 starts. He had 165 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings, but went nearly three months without a win while battling various injuries and some inconsistencies. He was 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA at home and 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA on the road. He started strong, but was 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA in 18 starts from May 26-Sept. 20. He finished the season having not allowed a run in his final two starts, 13 1/3 innings.

Norris made $511,000 last season and should see a substantial bump based on his body of work, perhaps in the $2 million range

– Wesley Wright, who made $512,000 last season, is one of the longest-tenured Astros, having pitched parts of five seasons with the club from 2008-12. He made a career-high 77 appearances as lefty specialist last year and went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA, including a 19-game scoreless streak. Lefties have hit just .170 off of him the last two years combined and he’ll remain a key cog in the bullpen.

The Astros got Wright in the Rule 5 Draft in 2007, and he’s had an unusual tenure in Houston. He’s been tried as a starter, had his arm slot temporarily changed and bounced between Triple-A and Houston so many times he could start his own shuttle service. But he appears to have entrenched himself in the bullpen and will be paid accordingly.

Wilton Lopez, claimed off waivers in 2009 by Ed Wade, has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last year in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero. He posted the lowest walks-per-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.

Lopez made $515,500 last season and could wind up around $1 million next season based on his workload and track record. That’s if the Astros don’t trade him.

Astros-Phils talking about Lopez

The Astros are working on a deal that would send relief pitcher Wilton Lopez to the Phillies in exchange for Minor League prospects, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com

Lopez has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Brett Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero.

He posted the lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio among all NL relievers (1.09) last season after setting the franchise record in 2010 by issuing only five walks in 67 innings pitched. He began last season by facing 78 batters without issuing a walk.

The departure of Lopez would leave the Astros with a glaring hole at closer, something the team will likely address in the near future

The Astros claimed him off waivers on April 10, 2009.

Mills: No ill intent on Lopez pitch that struck Ramirez

Tempers flared in the seventh inning of the Marlins’ 5-3 win over the Astros on Wednesday when Houston reliever Wilton Lopez hit Hanley Ramirez with a pitch. Ramirez glared at Lopez and was escorted to first base by an umpire in an effort to keep the peace.

Lopez, who flashed the Marlins’ ’ lo viste sign – which is two fingers forming a sideways “V” over one eye –  as he left the mound when manager Brad Mills pulled him from the game, wasn’t available to talk. Mills said the hit by pitch wasn’t intentional.

“There’s no way we’re trying to hit him there,” he said. “A ball just got up and away from him. Look at how many pitchers we went through already. We don’t want to take a chance of going through absolutely everybody. That was just a ball that he opened up on it and the ball rode up and there was absolutely no intent.”

Astros pitcher Wilton Lopez flashes the Marlins’ lo viste sign as he leaves the mound during Wednesday’s game /Getty images.

Still, the Astros weren’t pleased at the gesturing of Ramirez and some of his teammates when the teams met last month in Miami.

“Very mature,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said sarcastically when asked about the incident. “He’s lucky I wasn’t Hanley. I would have chased his [rear] all the way to Puerto Rico.”

Warnings were issued to both benches, but the remainder of the game was played without incident.

“That’s just part of the game,” Guillen said. “He’s a kid. It’s no big deal. The umpires controlled that situation very well. I don’t have any problem with that. You’re just a kid and the emotions get to you. That happened and I don’t have a problem with that.”

Astros bullpen enjoying success

No one is more encouraged by how well the Astros’ bullpen has pitched in the last few weeks than interim pitching coach Doug Brocail, who took over June 14 when Brad Arnsberg was let go by the team.

Houston’s bullpen, which currently consists of five rookies, entered Saturday having posted a 0.95 ERA in its last 14 games. Astros relievers had allowed four earned runs in 38 innings pitching during that span. Still, the Astros are last in the National League with a 4.40 ERA.

“The guys are throwing well, especially from where we were,” Brocail said. “Every time we’ve called on them, they’ve done a good job. I think the important thing is they’re picking each other up. If a guy comes in and doesn’t get the job done, we’ve been really good lately about picking him up. It’s nice to see that we’re getting some things accomplished.

“When I came on, the big worry was ‘Oh my God, you inherited a bullpen that’s blown 19 saves.’ You know what? They’re all rookies. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to get better and hopefully learn from it and that’s where we’re at now.”

Right-handers David Carpenter, Enerio Del Rosario, Anuery Rodriguez and Fernando Rodriguez are rookies, along with left-hander Sergio Escalona. The only non-rookies in the bullpen are close Mark Melancon, who was a rookie last year, and set-up man Wilton Lopez, who’s in his second full year.

“The thing is, when you have some rookies you’ve got to make sure they’re communicating and talking to each other,” Brocail said. “We’ve tried to stress that.”

Astros go for 2 in a row against Padres

The Astros will try to win consecutive games for the first time this season when they send J.A. Happ to the mound in the second game of a four-game series against the Padres tonight at Minute Maid Park.

Earlier on Friday, the Astros placed right-handed pitcher Wilton Lopez on the 15-day disabled list — backdated to April 14 — due to irritation of the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.

To replace Lopez, the Astros have purchased the contract of 28-year-old right-handed pitcher Jose Valdez from Triple -A Oklahoma City. Valdez, who is scheduled to arrive at Minute Maid Park today, is 1-0 in three relief appearances for the RedHawks with a 2.45 ERA and two saves.

Valdez earned his second save of the season last night, hurling a scoreless inning in the RedHawks 6-5 win at Nashville (14 pitches, nine strikes). This will be the first Major League stint for Valdez, who will wear No. 60.

Here is today’s lineup:

CF Michael Bourn

SS Angel Sanchez

RF Hunter Pence

LF Carlos Lee

1B Brett Wallace

2B Bill Hall

3B Chris Johnson

C Humberto Quintero

P J.A. Happ

Taking a shot at the Astros 25-man roster

We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.

Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:

CATCHERS (2)

Humberto Quintero

J.R. Towles

Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.

INFIELDERS (6)

Brett Wallace (L)

Bill Hall

Clint Barmes

Chris Johnson

Matt Downs

Tommy Manzella

Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.

OUTFIELDERS (5)

Carlos Lee

Michael Bourn (L)

Hunter Pence

Jason Michaels

Brian Bogusevic (L)

Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.

STARTING PITCHERS (5)

Brett Myers

Wandy Rodriguez (L)

J.A. Happ (L)

Bud Norris

Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)

Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)

Brandon Lyon

Wilton Lopez

Fernando Abad (L)

Jeff Fulchino

Nelson Figueroa

Mark Melancon

Henry Villar

Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.

Astros position breakdown: relief pitching

Here it is: the eighth and final installment of the Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. Today we’ll take a look at relief pitching, which general manager Ed Wade says is one of the strengths of the team. Before we get to the bullpen, here are the links to the previous seven entries in the series (click on the desired position to view the entry): catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher.

RELIEF PITCHING

2010 bullpen to begin season: Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon.

2010 end-of-season bullpen: Fernando Abad, Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin, Enerio Del Rosario, Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Felipe Paulino, Henry Villar and Wesley Wright.

Others who made an appearance: Nelson Figueroa, Brian Moehler, Casey Daigle, Gary Majewski, Kevin Cash.

Combined 2010 stats of Astros relief pitchers: 24-23 record, 45 saves in 60 opportunities, 4.49 ERA (ranked 13th in the NL).

Free agents: None.

Arbitration eligible: LHP Tim Byrdak, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Felipe Paulino.

What happened: The Astros traded for hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom last December and plunked down $15 million on a three-year contract for Brandon Lyon to bolster the back end of the bullpen after losing both Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. Lyon developed a cyst in his shoulder and was behind all spring, opening the door for Lindstrom to win the closer’s job.

Lindstrom got off to a terrific start, posting a 1.40 ERA in his first 19 appearances and going 10-for-10 in save opportunities. He blew three saves and posted a 5.23 ERA in June and began battling back spasms that eventually cost him the closer’s job and forced him to the disabled list in August.  Lyon took over as closer in early August and finished with 20 saves in 22 chances and a 3.12 ERA.

Lindstrom, who led the team with 23 saves, and Lyon became the first set of teammates to save at least 20 games in the same season since the 1992 Cincinnati Reds.

Wilton Lopez, who the Astros acquired on a waiver claim in 2009, took on an important role in the back of the bullpen and wound up pitching in 68 games and posted a 2.96 ERA. The Astros also got good mileage out of lefty Tim Byrdak and right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who battled injuries and wasn’t as sharp as he was in 2009. Fan favorite Chris Sampson had a good first half and was eventually sent to the Minors after some struggles and designated for assignment. Alberto Arias, who was injured in Spring Training, and Sammy Gervacio were quickly shut down because of shoulder troubles.

As the year progressed, the Astros got a good look at right-handers Henry Villar and Mark Melancon, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.

What’s next: Astros general manager Ed Wade doesn’t plan to do much to the bullpen in the offseason and sees it as one of the strengths of the club. Lyon and Lindstrom will once again compete for the closer’s job in the spring, though both could again wind up finishing off games at some point. The Astros like what Lopez brings to the back end of the bullpen and envision Melancon as a future late-game reliever.

Arias, who had surgery for rotator cuff impingement, could be in the picture next year along with Gervacio, who missed most of the year with rotator cuff inflammation. Gervacio had mixed results in the Minors but showed some good flashes with the Minor Leagues. Fernando Abad had a good Major League debut in his 22 appearances and will be a left-handed option, along with Wesley Wright.

Who’s on the farm: Left-hander Douglas Arguello, the pitcher of the year at Double-A Corpus Christi, will be in spring camp next year competing for a job. Abad and Villar, both of whom came up late in the season, could lead the next wave of youngsters in the pen. Don’t forget Chia-Jen Lo, who missed much of last year with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.

Astros GM Ed Wade explains roster moves

The Astros made a pair of roster moves following Monday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, placing left-hander Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and optioning right-hander Sammy Gervacio to Triple-A Round Rock.

The club recalled right-hander Wilton Lopez from Round Rock and purchased the contract of left-hander Gustavo Chacin, putting the 40-man roster at its limit. Chacin will pitch as the lefty out of the pen in place of Byrdak.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said Byrdak’s hamstring had been bothering for several weeks.

“[Head athletic trainer] Nate Lucero called me after he came out of the game tonight and said Tim said he had trouble finishing his pitches, and Nate went back and looked at video of last year compared to this year and it was apparent to him he was really having trouble coming down on his landing leg,” Wade said. “It seemed apparent he was trying to compensate for the hamstring.”

Wade talked to Byrdak (1-0, 5.23 ERA in 13 games) after the game and he confirmed that was the case.

“Before the hamstring blows or he hurts his arm, we put him on the DL and hopefully it resolves itself in 15 days,” Wade said.

Chacin was 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts for the Express. He’s allowed 24 hits, six walks and struck out 14 batters in 24 2/3 innings. He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.

Wade said left-hander Wesley Wright was also given consideration for being called up, but he threw six innings Monday.

“I talked to [Round Rock manager] Marc Bombard and he said he Chacin could handle the role in the bullpen and [pitching coach Brad Arnsberg] is familiar with him from Spring Training and their days together in Toronto,” Wade said.

Gervacio, who threw one-third of an inning Monday and gave up a two-run single, is 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in 3 2/3 innings in six appearances. Lopez was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three relief appearances at Round Rock and was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA and five strikeouts in four relief appearances for the Astros earlier this year.
 

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.

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