More Astros potpourri: why an offday in the middle of a series?
The Astros have a weird schedule this week — only one night game in six days, and an off day right in the middle of the St. Louis series. I’ve received a lot of questions about that, and the explanation is simple: when teams in cold weather cities with open-roofed stadiums have their Opening Day, the next day is usually an offday just in case their Opener gets rained out. Obviously, most Opening Days sell out, so rather than deprive the fans of the game and the club of the gate, everything just shifts to the next day.
It’s 80 degrees and perfectly sunny in St. Louis today (and all week), so tomorrow will be a full day off (yay!). That said, I’m hearing that Brad Mills has reserved the field at Busch Stadium for about an hour for a voluntary workout, and I’m guessing he’ll get a decent showing. The hotel is located near the ballpark, there’s nothing else to do in downtown St. Louis and the way things are going, I would imagine quite a few hitters would like to get in a handful of swings while still enjoying a mental day off.
Every day when we talk to Mills, we ask for a Puma update with hopes that a return to the field is imminent. So far, no luck. Lance Berkman spent part of his morning rehabbing in Houston, and he’ll continue to do so while the Astros are out of town.
As far as when he’ll be activated from the disabled list, your guess is as good as mine.
“There’s no timetable set forth at all,” Mills said. “When he does finally come back we need him 100 percent to where he’s ready to play every day instead of maybe play for a week and he’s so sore that he has to sit out four or five days or DL him another 15. We don’t want that to happen.”
Making progress without setbacks has been the main issue.
“Some days he comes in and feels real good and they’ll try to increase the activity and all of a sudden, it’s not there,” Mills said. “We’re looking for a little stability in the process, in the program, where he feels good.”
During Monday’s game, we received word Puma did some light running, received treatment and also did some quadriceps strengthening exercises.
While I’m sure a million different thoughts and emotions are swimming inside of Mills right now, the most important thing he can do for his team is maintain a steady demeanor throughout all of this losing. He and his coaching staff must be a stabilizing force at all times, but especially now, when it’s easy for players to start thinking too much, overanalyzing and psyching themselves out as they try to do their jobs.
“We keep working with them and talking to them and making sure their minds are in the right spot,” Mills said. “And that their minds aren’t getting too heavy or bogged down with what they’re going through, to allow them to free them up to be able to function properly.”
Meanwhile, my favorite segment of the Astros game notes is back: birthday listings. Not only does the incomparable PR staff inform us when a player or coach has a birthday, but we’re also provided with what other famous people share that birthday.
On Tuesday, Hunter Pence turns 27, and we now know that he shares his birthday with R&B singer Al Green, actor Rick Schroder and the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.
Actually, in the game notes, next to Schroder’s name is the title “‘Lonesome Dove’ actor.” Come on. That’s like identifying Rob Lowe with his role in “The West Wing.” Rick Schroder will forever be Ricky Schroder of Silver Spoons, even if he’s spent the last 25 years trying to make people forget that part of his career.
During Jeff Bagwell’s recent pow wow with the media, he was asked what he thought of Bud Norris’ future as a starting pitcher. I thought I’d pass those thoughts along to you:
“Bud has great stuff,” Bagwell said. “He’s got a personality that maybe his teammates don’t like (laughs), but I love. Bud is off the wall, and he’s not arrogant, but he believes in his ability. And he has tons of ability. He has a chance to be in our organization and pitch and be upward of one-two in our rotation for years to come.
“I’m excited about Bud. I truly love him. I think he’s going to do great, I really do. I remember back in 2001, we had Roy (Oswalt), Wade (Miller), Carlos Hernandez and (Tim) Redding. I remember sitting there talking to Bidge and saying, ‘We have a chance to be good for a while.’ These are the young kids that have to come up. In today’s game, it’s very hard to go out and pay for pitching, because pitching costs so much money. If we develop our own guys, we’ll have time to keep them in our own nest.”
From the manager’s session after the Astros’ loss in St. Louis Monday:
Mills, asked if it’s too early to get frustrated with the lack of offense:
“You an definitely be frustrated after one game when you struggle to score. Now that it’s adding up, I think it’s OK to be frustrated a little bit.”
On pulling Wandy in the fifth inning, after 65 pitches:
“He’s fine. At that point, being down like we were, we had to go with matchups.”
(Side note: Wandy said he felt a little shoulder soreness during this game but does not feel it will affect him moving forward.)