What a strange day.

Usually it’s a very good thing that you never really know what’s going to happen on any given day of Spring Training. That’s one of the interesting parts of this job — you think it’s going to be a normal, ho-hum day, and something strange and unusual happens and all of a sudden, there’s plenty to write about.

But this Mike Hampton thing came out of left field, so to speak. I know it’s probably nothing. But anytime you hear “irregular” in the same sentence as “heart,” it’s scary. Especially when you’re talking about a seemingly healthy 36-year-old man.

So, we’ll hope for the best. Supposedly we’ll hear the results of his appointment with Dr. Muntz on Tuesday, and like the Astros are telling us, it’s probably nothing. But I’ll feel better when I actually see Hampton back in camp this week.

Tuesday is going to be a busy day at Osceola County Stadium. Not only is it the first day the full squad works out together, but Miguel Tejada is due to arrive sometime in the morning. With his sentencing date pending (March 26), it’s highly unlikely he’s going to say much about his involvement in the PED mess that has taken over this sport in the last year. The only saving grace for Tejada is Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to face the media at the very same time Tejada is due to report to Astos camp, so it’s more likely Tejada will have only a handful of reporters waiting for him, as opposed to the circus that awaits A-Rod.

I don’t know what to do with this Pudge Rodriguez thing anymore. This is the most bizarre non-story I’ve covered in a while. We keep reading stories about Pudge considering signing with the Astros, but the interest appears to be one-sided. Ed Wade last talked to Rodriguez’s representatives 23 days ago and he has never made a formal offer to Pudge. But this story won’t go away. I wonder what would happen if Pudge’s asking price dropped to, say, $1 million.

If you’re ever in Kissimmee, you must stop for dinner at La Forchetta, the best Italian restaurant this side of the Mississippi, as they say. Had the veal marsala tonight. If you’re planning a trip to spring training, let me know and I’ll tell you how to get there. You won’t regret it. It’s the Astros home away from home, for good reason.

Alyson 

9 Comments

My question is, why would Pudge have to drop his offer to $1 million for the Astros to be interested? Catcher is arguably the biggest hole on this club right now, and the thought that they wouldn’t want to fill this hole on a low-risk, one-year-deal with a 13 time gold-glove winning catcher unless he’s willing to sign for peanuts is ricidulous. As if the extra money would actually be a drop in the bucket for Drayton. There’s only so far he can take this “the recession is tying my hands!” nonsense.

Hampton has been bashed for being injured all the time, but a heart condition is no laughing matter.

http://prospects.mlblogs.com/

– Ranking the top 5 prospects by team

I will be there for a couple games March 13th and 14th, I think I will give it a shot!

Alyson,

Your Spring Training blog has been very entertaining and given a unique, personal perspective. Thanks for your insight and bringing us along with you on your trip.

-Jason

I wonder why Pudge would want to come to the Astros, other than the fact that our catching position is so unsettled. At his stage I would think he would want to catch on with a team with a better shot at the postseason. I tend to agree that it must be something of a negotiating ploy.

So glad to see your blog of ST. Until I can make it down for a few days, I have something to look forward to each day! And I can’t wait to get back to La Forchetta! Keep up the good work and great writing.

Why the Astros SHOULD be working on a deal for Pudge:

1. Upgrade in talent over 4 catchers in camp to bridge the gap until Jason Castro is ready for the bigs.
2. Veteran catcher to work with soft starting rotation (back-end) and bring the best out of them throughout season.
3. Career .300 hitter coming from American League should see an offensive bump facing Nat’l League pitching, so it’s reasonable to expect him to stay near .300 (he had a good 1st half last year for Detroit).
4. Better bat behind the plate would allow the team to bring up Chris Johnson at 3rd, or another rookie who has a strong Spring and fills a need. This allows a better blend of youth and veterans in everyday lineup and makes up for loss of Wiggington’s bat.
5. Pudge is a big name and would bring a little buzz to the team…ok, he is in his twilight, but this team needs some mojo to pump the fan base up for the 09 campaign.
6. On the business side, Astros have a strong Latino fan-base (to wit: Spanish radio/tv broadcasts) and that’s an advantageous market to cultivate.
7. He hit very well when inserted into my Wii baseball line-up.

Mr. Wade, go for a 1-yr deal with an option 2nd year to bring the asking price down (hey, Asmus is a $1m/yr catcher), put Q behind him, and then let Pudge work with Jason Castro next year and retire after 2010 as one of the best backstops in the game.

The Tejada situation is disturbing. I never liked the idea of trading for him while this dark PED (I’ll go with it) cloud was hovering over. Now it’s caught up to him. I’m sure with as much time that has passed by he was hoping it would just fade away. I think I was hoping that too. I still believe that is part of the reason his power production has fallen over the last several years. No more PED’s. I’m sorry, when I see PED I think of PEZ, is that just me? ;) PED dispenser anyone?

Alyson what are you doing in Florida? The story is right here in Zachary, Louisiana!

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