Miggy, Alberto, Draft, Sunshine Kids and other newsy notes.
Cecil Cooper chuckled as he recounted his conversation with Miguel Tejada, during which he informed the shortstop he was going to be off Friday.
Apparently, Cooper pulled Tejada into his office after Thursday’s game and said, “I’m giving you the game off tomorrow.” Tejada looked to his left, looked to his right, and wearing a surprised expression said, “Me?”
“I said, ‘You, I’m talking to you,'” Cooper laughed. “Then he said, ‘OK, OK.'”
Tejada hates days off — hates them. In his estimation, the scheduled off days — every team gets three or four a month — provide more than enough time to recharge the batteries. That’s not the way most managers see it, however, especially when talking about a player at or
near the 35-year-old mark. Tejada just celebrated that birthday less than two weeks ago.
Speaking of the big 3-5, two more Astros hit that milestone this week — Darin Erstad (Thursday) and Russ Ortiz (Friday).
The Astros hosted a workout on the field at Minute Maid Park for players they have their eye on as potential draftees. Forty-eight players — a combination of pitchers and hitters — from all parts of the country traveled to Houston on their own dime to strut their stuff in front of Astros front office execs and the scouts who have pursued them.
“It was outstanding, in terms of the quality and quantity of players,” general manager Ed Wade said. “The scouts did a tremendous job putting the whole thing together.
“There was never any down time. It started at 9 in the morning and went to 2:30 There was not a minute lost. The body of work that our scouts have put in will be the determining factor as to who we take, but this is a chance for us to see these kids in our environment, give
them a chance to soak in what the Major League experience is like. We think it’s a win-win, but from a standpoint of what took place today, I thought it was a perfect day.”
The list of participants included players from the high school, junior college and college levels, and they traveled from all over: by my count, there were 17 states represented, and one country — Puerto Rico — from which three players traveled for this workout. The states
included California (11), Florida (6), South Carolina (2), Georgia (3), Massachusetts (1), Alabama (2), New York (1), Missouri (1), Texas (7), Illinois (1), West Virginia (1), Louisiana (1), Oklahoma (1), Indiana (1), Pennsylvania (1), Arizona (2) and North Carolina (2).
By school level, there were 24 high school players, 17 college and five junior college.
News and notes:
* Assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones was dropping a few things off in the dugout when he suddenly heard his name being yelled by several players from deep in the outfield. Turns out, right-handed reliever Alberto Arias was struck in the head by a thrown ball and had crumpled to the ground — conscious, but in obvious pain. Much of the team stood over Arias and watched as Jones tended to him, and after about five minutes or so, Arias got up on his own volition and was soon carted off to the clubhouse.
Arias was experiencing mild concussion-like symptoms and later had a CT Scan taken on his head, just as a precautionary measure. The scan came back normal and he was back with the team by game time. Obviously, he was deemed unavailable to pitch in the opener with the Pirates.
I ran into Arias on my way back from the clubhouse after the game and he said the ball hit him on the right side of his forehead. “It was really scary. I didn’t see the ball until it hit me. It just came right at me and hit right here (points to forehead). But I’ll be fine, I feel better now.”
* Jose Valverde was in high spirits after throwing a 25-pitch simulated inning on Friday, facing teammates Jason Michaels and Matt Kata. He’ll throw another one Sunday and then will likely head out on a rehab assignment.
* Geoff Geary is not going to start a rehab assignment with the Double-A Hooks on Saturday as previously announced. Instead, he’ll continue a throwing program in Houston. He’s thrown two simulated games and a bullpen session so far.
From the camera:
This is a pretty typical pregame scene — Cooper meets with the media every day, and when the team is at home, he usually conducts the pregame session in the dugout. On the road, when there’s only a few of us there, it’s a more casual setting in his office.
Jose Valverde discusses his simulated inning. He also took PFP (pitchers fielding practice). He appears to be on track to head out on a rehab assignment in the not so distant future.
The Sunshine Kids were special guests of the Astros on Friday. As I’m sure most are aware, the Astros have been closely tied to the Sunshine Kids — a support group for kids with cancer and their families — for more than two decades, thanks in large part to Craig Biggio. Here we have players signing autographs in a side room, near the clubhouse. I am including shots of Puma and Sampson but I want to make sure it’s understood most of the team stopped by after batting practice.