Wandy, Pudge, Doublemint Twins and more old pictures.

From a lazy Sunday at the ballpark:

Wandy Rodriguez’s next start was pushed back a day, and now the left-hander is tentatively expected to throw on Tuesday.

Rodriguez hurt the tip of the index finger on his left hand after being hit with a comebacker during his start against the Mets last Thursday.

“I was able to keep pitching in the game after it hit me,” said Rodriguez, who gave up five runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks over two innings Thursday. “It just hurts a lot and feels like it’s going to bleed when I throw my curveball. I even tried to [poke] it with a needle (Saturday night) to get the blood out of there, but the blood is still on the tip.”

Because he digs that index finger into the ball when he he throws his curveball, he cannot pitch through this injury, as he discovered during a recent bullpen session.

“I tried to throw my curveball in the bullpen without putting the pressure on the finger, but I didn’t even reach it to the plate,” he said. “It bounced way before it got there.”
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The Astros won’t need their fifth starter until halfway through April, which makes it possible that Russ Ortiz, assuming the job goes to him, would make one start in the Minor Leagues before joining the Major League club.

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The way things are going, I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Wandy was not ready to start the season, which would allow for both Ortiz and Jose Capellan to make this team. Based on spring performances, I don’t think that would be such a bad thing, do you?

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Pudge Rodriguez probably will not play Monday, but manager Cecil Cooper expects him to catch Wandy on Tuesday and play again Wednesday, when the Astros travel to Jupiter.

Brian Moehler, on throwing to Pudge for the first time: “He did a good job. I enjoiyed the way he set up back there, he mixed pitches up well. We seemed to be on the right page. It’s a learning experience for him as well as us. I thought he did a great job.

“He brings leadership and he brings playoff experience, two great qualities to have.”

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From the “Did you know” vault:
Did you know Jason Michaels’ wife, Pamela, and her twin sister, Karen were Doublemint Twins as a teenagers? They were featured in a couple of commercials of the famous chewing gum brand, which launched its long-running Doublemint Twins ad campaign back in the 1950s.

According to Jason, Pamela can sing and play piano, “while I have absolutely no ability to do either.”

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And here we have the final installment of our trip down memory lane. I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures, as much as I enjoyed posting them.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani threw out the first pitch before the Astros-Yankees game last year. Here he is walking off the field with Mark Loretta, who caught the pitch.

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Nope, no pressure here: imagine trying to throw a strike while Nolan Ryan is standing three feet from you with that look on his face. That’s what Jason Hirsh got a taste of a few years ago at the Astros’ Elite Camp.

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I was down on the field for the pregame hooplah before Biggio’s final game in 2007, and I took a bunch of pictures. This is FSN’s Patti Smith, holding Chris Sampson’s son, C.J., as she did the intro for her show. Sampson is off to the left, maybe making sure Patti didn’t drop the baby. Just kidding.

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Opening Day, 2002: The Astros invited fan favorite Bill Spiers to throw out the first pitch. Spiers, one of the all-time good guys in baseball, retired in ’01 when his back problems went from uncomfortable to unbearable. Here he is with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Ashley.

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Another shot of the Astros’ clincher in 2001. That’s Ricky Stone on the left, Scott Linebrink on the right.

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And Ocavio Dotel and Jose Cruz, same night…

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An O’Brien shot of the moment the Astros clinched the Wild Card in 2004.

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You never know who you’re going to run into at batting practice when the Yankees are in the World Series. I took this mainly because of Paul O’Neill, my all-time favorite Cincinnati Red. That he posed with Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Don Mattingly was just a bonus.

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One of the best parts of this job over the years was having behind-the-scenes access to some of the off-the-field stuff. This was taken before a ZZ Top concert a few offseasons ago. The band invited the Sunshine Kids and Craig and Patty Biggio to a pre-concert party and provided tickets to the show.

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This was taken on one of the annual caravan trips to Temple, at least seven years ago, if not more. I don’t remember a lot about it, except that we were at a high school, and Lance got a hold of a football.

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Took this last week during batting practice. You see how much the winless streak was taking a toll on the Puma.

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I snapped this in Dennis’s office, a couple of hours before Biggio was to play in his final game. He spent most of the weekend signing baseballs.

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This cracks me up — good ol’ Jimy Williams. Jeff Kent had just been ejected from the game, and Jimy let the umpires know how he felt about the situation by covering home plate with dirt. Good stuff.

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Jeff Kent, at an autograph session during the Astros’ caravan in 2003.

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An O’Brien shot, taken after Kent hit a walkoff homer in one of his first games as an Astro.

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Took these at batting practice last week. Carlos Lee broke into dance, claiming it was aerobics. Carol King’s “I Felt the Earth Move Under my Feet” popped into my head.

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A bunch of local sports stars were inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, including Bagwell, Biggio and Mary Lou Retton. Here we have Mary Lou [seated next to Biggio] signing autographs for a few aspiring gymnasts.

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I took this one just a couple of months ago, during the Astros’ caravan trip through Austin and San Antonio. The group participated in a tree-planting exercise at the Capitol in Austin, and here we have Mike Hampton, ever the comedian, grabbing onto Milo Hamilton to make sure he didn’t topple over [he didn't]. Bagwell is there on the left, laughing at Hampton, as is Mark Saccomanno.

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Hunter Pence and Chris Sampson, having some fun on a caravan trip.

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The Albert Pujols-Brandon Backe dust up at Minute Maid Park last year happened so fast that I didn’t have time to get a good shot of it. This was the best I could do — you can see part of Backe’s head behind Cooper. And of course, that big guy in the middle is an unhappy Pujols. Oswalt is to Backe’s right.

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And we end where we started, with the Killer B’s…Biggio and Bagwell at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. That’s Berkman’s old college coach, Rice’s Wayne Graham, standing to Bagwell’s left.

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10 Comments

Alyson – thanks for the trip down memory lane – awesome pics. Thanks especially for including Spiers – he was a favorite of mine. My first big souvenier was a Spiers game worn jersey I won at an auction benefitting the Girls and Boys Club many years ago. I still have it haning in my home along with a personaized photo he signed to me. The signature is fading fast, but I still love it. Great job.

Alyson–I loved your pics, especially the ones of Astro’s with their kids! Thanks for sharing what goes on behind the scenes.

No, please don’t stop with just three installments of your great photos! Like skgator68, thanks for the snapshot of Billy Spiers. He was definitely one of the great guys of baseball who had a career cut way too short – one of the best utility players the Astros have had on their team. I remember that OD so well. Thank you so much for sharing your very candid photos with the rest of us. Can’t wait to get to FL next Sunday – is La Forchetta open on Sunday night?

I wasn’t sure which song you were referring to so I youtubed it and played it with the pictures of Carlos in the foreground, and I think the only thing that could have been funnier is actual video of him dancing with the song

Texaskol — La Forchetta is closed on Sundays, unfortunately.

Just my luck – thought I remember La Forchetta being closed on Sunday. There goes my plan to ask you out to dinner! In Kissimmee only for the day but making the game in Tampa Monday before returning home.

GREAT PICS! Thanks for the stroll. Brings back many happy memories. Keep up the great work.

Agree with you Ms Footer?having both Ortiz and Capellan on the roster wouldn?t be a bad thing. Quick question: Is it possible that Moehler moves up in the rotation thanks to his good performance in ST (and because Rodriguez is injured)?
Nice pictures :)

How about them slugging Astros! I know its still spring training and all but man its nice to see them finally start to hit.

The pictures were great; thanks for sharing them! I probably should have commented sooner, but I’m really enjoying this blog!

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