Results tagged ‘ Zach Duke ’

Astros release Duke, Cust

Left-handed pitcher Zach Duke and outfielder Jack Cust, a pair of veterans trying to find a home in Houston, were both released by the team Tuesday morning in a move that certainly was no surprise.

Cust, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed, $600,000 contract with the Astros with an option for 2013, and Duke, who was on a Minor League contract, both struggled mightily this spring. Cust had one hit in 25 spring at-bats and never appeared in the outfield because of discomfort in his left elbow.

“The thing with Cust, we weren’t able to use him in the outfield all of spring really,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “He got to play a couple of innings of a ‘B’ game out there and the bat wasn’t there and what we had hoped. We know he’s got the ability to do that, but it wasn’t able to show in the 30-something plate appearances we gave him,”

Duke was 0-3 with an 11.30 ERA in four games (three starts) for the Astros this spring and had allowed 25 hits and 18 runs in 14 1/3 innings.

Duke was a candidate for the fifth starter spot, leaving youngsters Kyle Weiland and Jordan Lyles battling for that position. The moves leave the Astros with 39 players in camp.

“Any time you have to give a release to somebody, that’s a difficult thing to do,” Mills said. “In Duke’s case, we thought that the location of his pitches wasn’t quite where it needed to be and then his breaking ball wasn’t quite the breaking ball we thought we could transfer over into our bullpen.

“We thought his sinker was on top of his game, and the command wasn’t there. It just didn’t translate into a starter for us, and with that breaking ball being so inconsistent we weren’t able to use him out of the bullpen.”

Other news from Tuesday morning:

  • Center fielder Jordan Schafer will be held out of hitting drills completely Tuesday to give his left hand more time to heal, and there’s a chance he could be given Wednesday of as well. Schafer injury his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield March 18 and irritated a nerve in the hand.
  • Right-hander Bud Norris said he could have pitched Wednesday, but the Astros are giving him two extra days. Norris says he’ll be ready to go on Friday against the Braves in Kissimmee

Tuesday’s lineup vs. Tigers:

CF J.B. Shuck

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brian Bogusevic

1B Carlos Lee

3B Chris Johnson

DH Chris Snyder

LF Matt Downs

C Jason Castro

2B Jose Altuve

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

Rotation battle whittled to four

Astros manager Brad Mills identified four candidates Tuesday morning who remain in the mix for the team’s final two spots in the starting pitching rotation: right-handers Kyle Weiland, Jordan Lyles and Livan Hernandez and left-hander Zach Duke. The team isn’t saying it, but Hernandez appears to be a lock, leaving Weiland, Lyles and Duke for the final spot.

Mills said right-handers Lucas Harrell and Henry Sosa are being looked at in bullpen roles.

“Because they haven’t been getting the [starts], I don’t know if you can put them in the mix right now over those other four guys,” Mills said. “If they were to show something and light our eyes they might throw themselves back into that mix, but we’re looking at spots in the bullpen as well. Or if they do something we feel would warrant them to get back into the mix, then we’ll put them right back into the mix.”

Mills expects nothing to be decided until end of camp.

“The way we’re going about it is allowing us to look at them almost to the end of camp,” he said. “There’s no doubt we’ve already seen quite a bit from those guys and we’re forming opinions as we move forward because we’ve been able to see quite a bit of them. We want it to go as long as possible so we can have as much information to make the best decision.”

– CF Jordan Schafer, who sprained his left wrist two days ago, feels better, Mills said. He’s still several days away from getting back to action.

– C Humberto Quintero will catch the second half of today’s game against the Cardinals, following Chris Snyder.

– RHP David Carpenter and Fernando Rodriguez will pitch in a Minor League game today.

– Infield Joe Thurston made his first start of the spring against the Cardinals at second base. He was also scheduled to start in the morning B game, also at second base.

Here is the Astros’ lineup for Tuesday’s 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Cardinals, which can be seen on FS Houston and heard on 790 AM.

CF Jason Bourgeois

SS Jed Lowrie

RF Brian Bogusevic

1B Carlos Lee

DH Jack Cust

3B Chris Johnson

LF Justin Ruggiano

C Chris Snyder

2B Joe Thurston

—-

RHP Jordan Lyles

Game 8: Duke, Lyles get stretched out

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:

The players stretch upon arriving in Dunedin. Notice the artificial turf infield.

Brad Mills hits some fungos. Or is it fungoes?

Joe Thurston scoops up a ground ball in drills.

Jack Cust prepares for batting practice.

J.D. Martinez works on tagging up from third.

Hard-working hitting coach Mike Barnett.

Game 3: Rough day for Astros pitchers

The Astros suffered their first Spring Training loss of the season when the Braves came to Kissimmee and beat them, 10-5, on Monday afternoon. And here I thought they were going to go undefeated. Here’s the boxscore.

Before we get to the breakdown, make sure you read the story of how Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson are pushing each other while they battle for the same spots on the field.

Here’s the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The only Astros pitcher who took the mound and didn’t allow a run was Henry Villar, who gave up one hit in his scoreless innings. Starter Jordan Lyles had a crisp second inning after a tough first inning, and Zach Duke stretched out to three innings and pitched out of trouble a few times.

Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno struck out three batters in one inning of work around giving up a home run to Dan Uggla.

J.B. Shuck (2-for-2), Jed Lowrie (2-for-2) and Matt Downs (2-for-3), who got a start at third base, led the Astros’ 11-hit attack, which was their most in three spring games. Jordan Schaefer, Jason Bourgeois, J.D. Martinez, Chris Snyder and Joe Thurston also had hits. Jonathan Villar walked twice.

Bogusevic stole two bases. The Astros also turned three double plays. Also, the Astros didn’t strike out in 34 at-bats.

There certainly were plenty of teachable moments for Astros manager Brad Mills, who watched his pitchers allow 13 hits and six walks. The Braves had runners on base in all nine innings, allowing his pitching staff and his defense to see plenty of different situations.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Astros pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone, walking six batters. Lyles endured a 27-pitch first inning and wound up only going two innings, allowing four hits, two runs and one walk. Duke gave up three hits, two walks and one run in three innings.

Rhiner Cruz, the Astros’ Rule 5 pick, made his first appearance and didn’t retire any of the five batters he faced, giving up two hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks. Juan Abreu and Enerio Del Rosario each gave up one hit and one run in one inning of work.

Jack Cust went 0-for-3 and Fernando Martinez went 0-for-2, a day after hitting a three-run home run

WHAT THEY SAID: “There was a lot of defensive things we can take from this game because there were guys on and offensively there are some things we can take from the game. Again, I thought we ran the bases pretty good and were aggressive. Getting to the latter innings, the all-important strike kind of eluded us a little bit.” – Astros manager Brad Mills.

WHAT’S NEXT: First baseman Carlos Lee, who sat out the first three games of the spring season to rest his strained right hamstring, will make his Grapefruit League debut for the Astros against the Mets at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday in Kissimmee. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring for the Astros and is scheduled to pitch three innings.

INJURY UPDATE: Catcher Humberto Quintero (back/hip) is still a few days from getting in the lineup. … Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (wrist) and infielder Angel Sanchez (back) continue to progress and are taking batting practice.

Here is the day in photos:

Carlos Lee scoops up a ball at first.

Matt Downs fields a ball at third base.

Livan Hernandez works in the bullpen.

Former Astros CF Michael Bourn walks to the batting cage with Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace.

Carlos Lee jokes around at the cage.

J.D. Martinez awaits batting practice.

Michael Bourn catches up with third base coach Dave Clark.

Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee get reacquainted.

Jack Cust stretches before BP.

Duke to get a look as a starter

Before Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field early Tuesday for the second day of workouts, manager Brad Mills said left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, a non-roster invite to camp, would be looked at as both a starter and a reliever. Duke will make a couple of Grapefruit League starts, Mills said.

“We’re going to see what he’s able to bring to the table,” Mills said. “We’re going to give him a chance to start a couple of games, but he’s also pitched out of the pen, and when you have a lefty like that with his experience is an opportunity he might be able to earn a spot in the bullpen as well.”

Duke is 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA in his career, mostly with the Pirates. He’s pitched in 181 games, including 168 starts.

Much more to come later, but enjoy a couple of morning photos:

Astros coaches Dave Clark, Milt Thompson and Bobby Meacham await the workout.

Kyle Weiland plays catch with Jordan Lyles.

Zach Duke warms up with a game of toss.

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