Beefed up security and a few jitters as Astros prepare to play on 9/11 in Washington.
There were two main topics of conversation floating through the clubhouse Saturday: Football, and playing in front of a packed stadium in the nation’s capital on the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11. The latter topic, obviously, had a more serious tone. There are a few players — more than a few, to be honest — who aren’t thrilled with the idea of playing in a venue that seats around 40,000 and could actually draw close to that, given who’s pitching for the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg).
Needless to say, this city has beefed up its security efforts this weekend. There are guards and police practically everywhere you turn. I cannot even imagine what Nationals Park will be like on Sunday but I sense it will seem like there’s one uniformed officer for every fan who enters the stadium.
The Nationals put out a media advisory detailing enhanced security procedures, most of which will slow entry into the ballpark both Saturday and Sunday. Limited entry points will be available for fans entering the ballpark, comprehensive security checks will take place at each entrance, vehicle checks will occur in parking areas, bus drop-off and pick-up points will be altered and no outside beverages or liquids of any kind will be permitted into the ballpark.
The Nationals are also encouraging fans to arrive earlier than normal and to leave backpacks, bags and extra items at home through the weekend.
Here and there:
The new “Moneyball” movie hasn’t created much of a buzz among Astros types, but there may be a sort-of pseudo cameo “appearance” by someone affiliated with the team.
The movie, based on the Oakland Athletics, their general manager Billy Beane and their statistically-driven sabermetric approach to building baseball teams, is due to hit theaters on Sept. 23. Apparently, one of Ed Wade’s past trades with Beane is mentioned in the movie.
While it’s unlikely Wade’s character actually had a speaking role, the Astros GM did weigh in on the casting.
“I told my wife Brad Pitt wanted to play me,” Wade said. “But he wasn’t good-looking enough. So he had to play Billy.”
* Many Astros players and personnel took advantage of Thursday’s off day to tour D.C. and check out some of the more historical landmarks. Among the popular destinations: The Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the White House, the various War Memorials and the Smithsonian.
Lucas Harrell, a former member of President Obama’s favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, recalled taking a tour of the White House with approximately seven teammates when the Sox were in town in 2010. They didn’t meet the president, but they did get a behind the scenes tour that included a stop in the West Wing.
* I have no idea if the Astros are planning a Rookie Road Trip, but if they do have one before the season’s over, it’ll be a doozy. The Astros currently have 16 rookies on the active roster, including 10 pitchers and six position players: Juan Abreu, Jose Altuve, Brian Bogusevic, David Carpenter, Carlos Corporan, Enerio Del Rosario, Sergio Escalona, Harrell, Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez, Jimmy Paredes, Lance Pendleton, J.B. Shuck, Aneury Rodriguez, Fernando Rodriguez and Henry Sosa.
Generally, rookies have to participate in the Rookie Road Trip — where the veterans make them dress up in varying degrees of crazy and embarrassing outfits on a travel day — if they have never done so in the past. Some of the aforementioned rookies may have already done the rookie roadie, which might make them exempt from doing another one. Bogusevic and Del Rosario, for example, would fit into this category.
Even with that nifty rule, there are probably at least a dozen players due for their first rookie roadie, which gives me something to look forward to when we hit the road again later this week.
The Minor League affiliates ended their seasons last week. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:
Triple-A Oklahoma City
Three pitching standouts used the Astros’ Triple-A team as a springboard to the big leagues. Carpenter debuted for the Astros after tossing 19 scoreless innings and logging nine saves for the RedHawks. Harrell was 5-2 with a 1.72 ERA over nine starts after the Astros claimed him off waivers from the White Sox. Lyles was 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA over 12 games (10 starts).
Wins: Andy Van Hekken, 9
Saves: Jose Valdez, Carpenter, 9
ERA: Van Hekken, 3.40
Inning: Van Hekken, 129 2/3
Average: Anderson Hernandez .300
Hits: Hernandez, 153
Homers: Koby Clemens, 16
RBIs: Drew Locke, 58
Double-A Corpus Christi
The Hooks welcomes several additions via trades, most of whom ended up spending at least some time with the Hooks: Sosa (currently in the Astros’ rotation), Jarred Cosart (Pence trade), Paul Clemens (Bourn trade), Josh Zeid (Pence trade) Jason Stoffel (Keppinger trade) and lefty Brett Oberholtzer (Bourn trade).
Clemens had a run of 28 1/3 innings between Double-A Mississippi and Corpus without allowing an earned run.
First baseman Kody Hinze and outfielder Adam Bailey ranked first and second in the Astros’ organization for homers and RBIs. Bailey ranked second in both categories with 24 homers and 95 RBIs, and Hinze led all Houston Minor Leaguers with 29 homers and 98 RBIs.
Wins: Dallas Keuchel, 9
Saves: Daniel Maszaros, Carpenter, 5
ERA: Keuchel, 3.17
Innings: Ross Seaton, 155
Average: J.D. Martinez, .338
Hits: Martinez, 107
Homers: Martinez, 13
RBIs: Martinez, 72
Class A Lancaster:
Acquired from the Phillies in the Pence trade, first baseman Jonathan Singleton belted two homers in his first eight games and posted a .333 average during his 35 games with the JetHawks, with nine doubles and 16 RBIs.
The Astros’ 2009 first-rounder, Jio Mier, was promoted to Lancaster after playing 57 games with Class A Lexington. Mier posted a .333 average with four doubles and five RBIs in his last 10 games of the season.
Right-hander Jose Cisnero made a team-high 27 starts and recorded a team-best 152 strikeouts over 123 1/3 innings pitched.
Wins: Andrew Robinson, 8
Saves: Kirk Clark, 19
ERA: Jake Buchanan, 3.91
Innings: Buchanan, 158 2/3
Average: Austin Wates .300
Hits: Wates, 158
Homers: Hinze, 22
RBIs: Wates, 75
Class A Lexington:
Outfielder Domingo Santana, the player to be named in the Pence trade, made an immediate impact for the Legends, posting a .382 average and a .662 slugging percentage with five homers and 21 RBIs over 17 games.
Outfielder Emilio King jumped from Rookie League Greeneville to Lexington and earned multiple player of the month honors. In the first half, King hit .346 with nine doubles and 18 RBIs. In his last 10 games, King hit .410 with four doubles and eight RBIs.
Wins: Carlos Quevedo, 8
Saves: Jorge De Leon, 16
ERA: Jason Chowning, 2.45
Inning: Quevedo, 151
Average: Daniel Adamson, .295
Hits: Mike Kvasnicka, 128
Homers: Adam Bailey, 16
RBIs: Kvasnicka, 59
Short Season A Tri-City:
2011 first-round pick George Springer, who signed two minutes before the deadline, homered in his first at-bat in his first home game for Tri-City. In his first five games, he hit .278 (5-for-18) with three doubles, three RBIs and four stolen bases.
Wins: Dayan Diaz, 7
Saves: Ryan Cole, 10
ERA: Diaz, 1.98
Innings: Juri Perez, 67 1/3
Average: Matthew Duffy, .298
Hits: Zachary Johnson, 71
Homers: Bubba Williams, 6
RBIs: Johnson, 40
Rookie League Greeneville
Despite being promoted to Tri-City on Aug. 11, first baseman Chase Davidson was named to the Appalachian League All-Star Game. He led the club in multiple offensive categories, including homers (11), RBIs (44), doubles (13), total bases (104), walks (24), OBP (.426) and slugging (.646)
Infielder Joshua Magee hits safely in 12 consecutive at-bats. His 12-for-12 streak is the longest in Minor League Baseball since consecutive hits started being recorded in 2005.
Jamaine Cotton, 4
Saves: Matison Smith, Zachary Dando, Paris Shewey, 3
ERA: Smith, 2.65
Innings: Tyson Perez, 55
Average: Jordan Scott, .337
Hits: Scott, 83
Homers: Davidson, 11
RBIs: Davidson, 44
Gulf Coast League Astros
Wins: Blake Ford, Pedro Gomez, 4
Saves: Ford, 8
ERA: Juan Mojica, 1.42
Innings: Frederick Tiburcio, 54 1/3
Average: Yonathan Mejia, .329
Hits: Mejia, 48
Homers: Justin Shults, 5
RBIs: Shults, 29
Dominican Summer League
Wins: Manuel Sanchez, 4
Saves: Kelvin Santana, 5
ERA: Santana, 0.00
Innings: Agapito Barrios, 58 2/3
Average: Franny Polanco, .292
Hits: Juan Santana, 68
Home runs: Teoscar Hernandez, 7
RBIs: Hernandez, Mesac Lagua, 35
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