On Erstad, Brocail, Berkman and Sampson.
Cecil Cooper was planning for a while to play Darin Erstad in right field and rest Hunter Pence on Thursday, but he admitted he had second thoughts after Pence homered and doubled during the previous night’s game with the Dodgers. In the end, Cooper decided to stick with his original plan.
“It takes guts to take [Pence] out after last night,” Cooper said. “I hope [the fans] don’t boo me tonight.”
The decision was more about Erstad than Pence. Erstad had only 10 at-bats heading into this game and no starts.
“We need to get Erstad a start,” Cooper said. “That’s the reason we’re doing it. He needs to get four at-bats, or three at-bats in a game so he can feel comfortable. When a guy gets that, he usually starts to feel better. Then, when we use him in key situations, he’s ready.”
Considering Alex Rodriguez just had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, I couldn’t help but wonder if Chris Sampson was headed for the same fate. Why can one player play through a tear in his labrum and the other can’t?
So, I asked Ed Wade about that, and he compared Sampson’s tear to peeling an orange. If you peel it slightly back but don’t break it off, it snaps back into place. As long as the labrum doesn’t tear further he should be OK, but there are no guarantees that it won’t.
“I guess it’s degrees of tolerance more than anything,” Wade said. “He’s had soreness and then there was the bang-bang play [at first base] where he fell back. He tweaked it again and that’s when they told us it was incumbent to get the MRI.”
Sampson will probably have the tear looked at again when the season is over, and at that time, he might opt to have it surgically repaired. That’s a long way away however, and for now, he’ll pitch through it.
“He might have episodes over the course of the season where he’s too sore to pitch,” Wade said. “Or back-to-back days at different times might be a problem. We don’t know at this point. It’s going to be up to him to let us know how he’s feeling.”
Right now, Sampson is still enjoying the effects of a pain-numbing cortisone shot he took earlier this week, so it’s safe to say he’s feeling just fine.
At some point Wednesday, Doug Brocail was scheduled to make a Minor League rehab appearance. But he said he was going to try to talk Cooper and pitching coach Dewey Robsinson out of it, and apparently, it worked. Brocail will throw a simulated game
Friday instead and if that goes well, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be activated on Sunday when he’s eligible to come off the DL.
“What if he had gone there to Round Rock and thrown six pitches, or five?” Cooper said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to sit down after six pitches and get up and go another inning. It didn’t make a lot of sense. He’s going to do it here, and we’ll see if we can get him activated soon after.”
Lance Berkman’s homer Thursday night was the 292nd of his career, which moved him ahead of Craig Biggio for second place on the club’s all-time home run list.
So now, Berkman is sandwiched in between Biggio  and Jeff Bagwell .
“I’m honored to be in the same company as the two franchise icons,” he said.
As proud as he is to have played with Bagwell and Biggio, Berkman is OK with the fact that he is NOT an original Killer B. He is actually quick to remind us that he was playing at Rice when the whole Killer B thing first started in 1996.
It’s for that reason that Berkman doesn’t quite understand the buzzing sound played over the loudspeaker from time to time when he bats, and come to think of it, neither does hitting coach Sean Berry, one of the founding fathers of the first wave of Killer B’s. [That group included Bagwell, Biggio, Berry and Derek Bell].
Overheard: Brad Ausmus, acknowledging that this is the Dodgers’ only trip to Minute Maid Park this year: “This is the last time I’ll never play here.”
During Spring Training, we polled several key figures from the last 10 years on their favorite Minute Maid Park memories. We’re rolling them out slowly over the course of the season. First up, Roy Oswalt. Check it out here [scroll down]: http://astrosmemories.mlblogs.com/
From the camera archives:
The Astros are a close bunch. Puma demonstrated this while preparing to do an interview with radio announcer Dave Raymond. Puma’s like that close talker from Seinfeld. Dave acted like he was uncomfortable but I think he secretly liked it.