Rough night for Bazardo, Hampton. Carlos hits 300.

The Astros had their eye on Yorman Bazardo as early as last offseason, when they offered him a Minor League contract and an invite to big league Spring Training. But Bazardo received what he felt was a more enticing offer from the Phillies, took that one, and spent the spring in Clearwater.

Bad mechanics and poor numbers led to the Phillies releasing Bazardo about a week before Opening Day. His representatives went back to the Astros, who briefly considered sending him to extended spring in Florida. With too many players there already, they instead assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.

Bazardo, working with Express pitching coach Burt Hooton, started the season in the bullpen and eventually moved to the rotation. Prior to his callup to the Astros on Friday, he became one of Round Rock’s best performers.

Bazardo was brought up to the big leagues to serve as the long reliever, but his first outing Saturday night was long only in terms of pitches thrown (41) and minutes on the mound. His performance was wholly unimpressive — one inning, three hits, five runs (three earned).

Quite frankly, I was surprised to see Bazardo in the game, considering beforehand, manager Cecil Cooper said he was going to try not to use him. Bazardo had started for the Express three days earlier. “Probably not tonight,” Coop said of Bazardo’s availability. Definitely (Sunday).”

A right knee sprain forced Mike Hampton out of the game in the second inning, which necessitated Bazardo’s hasty entry. After the game, Coop took full responsibility for what happened next. “I’ll take the heat for that,” he said. “I talked to the young man, Bazardo, about not pitching today and we got into a situation where we needed him. He sucked it up.

“The kid just pitched (three) days ago — 75 pitches. Today would probably have been a side day. I was hoping to get through a couple of innings with him.”

Said Bazardo: “It’s obvious my stuff wasn’t there today. I tried to get out of the inning. Hopefully, next time I’ll do better with two, three days of rest. I’ll be fine.”

It’s important to note that while Bazardo is young, he’s not exactly inexperienced. He’s been with the Marlins, Tigers and Phillies and failed to stick with any of those organizations. The Astros felt he had enough to offer to take a chance on him, and it’s likely they didn’t envision him working his way onto the big league staff this quickly.

It’s probably prudent to remember that Bazardo is not the true “prospect” that Bud Norris is. In my opinion, it’s important to keep those two separate when talking about the future of this rotation. That said, I’d like to see Bazardo pitch, fully rested, many more times before passing judgment. 


News and notes:

Puma is getting antsy to return to the field. Asked by reporters about his sore calf, he responded: “If a grizzly ran out of that room right there, I could beat all you guys up the stairs.”

Hampton has a lateral meniscus sprain in his right knee and left the ballpark to have MRIs on both of his knees. The Astros expect to have the results Sunday.

A tip of the cap to Carlos Lee, who became the third Astro to log his 300th career home run (also Pudge and Puma). Even better, the fan who caught the ball gave it back to him, in exchange for a signed bat. “The woman who caught it, it was her son’s eighth birthday,” Lee said. “So, Happy Birthday Hunter.”

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