Break out the razor.
Doug Brocail likes that mountain-man goatee look, so I was surprised to see him shiny and clean-shaven when I walked into the clubhouse Friday afternoon. It’s funny — remove the facial hair and throw some glasses on him, and he goes from the intimidating somewhat crazy [but loveable] reliever you don’t want to mess with [I call him Chet, from Weird Science] to
something more along the lines of an accountant.
Turns out, shaving was borne from superstition.
“I had too many walks in [the goatee],” he said.
Felipe Paulino was sent to the ‘pen today, but he received high marks from just about everyone who he needed to impress during his brief time in the rotation. Cecil Cooper and pitching coach Dewey Robinson told him he belongs at this level. And Assistant GM Dave Gottfried noted a new maturity in Paulino that helped the right-hander get through some pretty dicey game situations.
Apparently, Paulino is learning how to pitch, which is a heck of a lot different from simply rearing back and throwing.
It should be noted they said the same thing about Jose Capellan during Spring Training, but he’s been completely and utterly ineffective since the Triple-A season started. Here’s hoping Paulino truly has figured it out. He has way more upside than Capellan, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Odds and ends, news and notes:
* Brandon Backe will make his second rehab start on Saturday in Frisco. Don’t expect him to return to the Astros’ rotation anytime soon, however — he’s in for at least four rehab outings total, if not five. Backe can stay on the rehab circuit for no more than 30 days, so he’s got some time. And seeing he missed pretty much all of Spring Training, it’s not unreasonable
to assume he’ll need the whole month to get ready for real game action.
* I tried to toss Brian Moehler a cookie when I asked him if the high winds in Midland contributed to his first two innings for Double-A Corpus the other day, when he yielded eight runs in the first two innings. He didn’t bite, however.
“Well, I didn’t give up any home runs,” he said with a laugh.
After he started mixing in his changeup with two outs in the second, things got better. He retired 11 in a row, and that’s enough to convince me he’s ready to return.
* Astros owner Drayton McLane will be honored on Saturday during a ceremony at Michigan State University, his grad school alma mater. The school will dedicate their ballpark McLane Baseball Stadium, after McLane donated $4 million to go toward the new facility.
McLane and his wife, Elizabeth, and his son, Drayton III and his wife, Amy, and their two children will attend the ceremony.
*To the fan I met at the airport yesterday: Matsui gets his sushi fix at Kubo’s on University Blvd. in West U.