Results tagged ‘ Bud Norris ’
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ballplayers over the years, it’s they’re unwaveringly loyal to two groups: their moms, and their dogs.
Dog Day at Minute Maid Park is this Sunday, May 6, and you can bet you’ll see Bailey Brutus Norris, Rollie Castro, Harley Johnson and Sophia May Buck in attendance. They might linger around the Astros dugout a while, but for good reason: their owners (fathers?) play for your Astros, and they’re more than a little excited for this doggone fun promotion.
Rollie Castro, named after the Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, is a rambunctious little guy who covered a lot of territory in the outfield at Minute Maid Park once the leash came off. Bailey Norris is still learning how to fetch — he’s got the running-after-the-ball part down pat, but once he gets to the ball, he just keeps running. They’re working on it.
As for Harley Johnson and Sophia May Buck, drooling and snorting appear to be their top two favorite activities, followed by drinking water, finding shade and fighting over a pink frisbee.
What a week.
Dog Day on Sunday will begin with the Pooch Parade around the field, which gives owners and their dogs an opportunity to flaunt their Sunday best while being captured on the giant scoreboard. (Pooch poopie picker-uppers will follow in the back, just in case.)
Dog Day offers two price packages. The $40 Dog Day Bullpen Box Package includes two Bullpen Box tickets — one for the owner, one for the pup, with access into the “Barking ROom Only” section in Conoco Alley. The tickets also include entrance to the Dog Zone at KBR Plaza and the Pooch Parade.
The $20 dog Standing Room Only ticket includes SRO tickets for you and your dog, plus access to the “Barking Room Only” area in Conoco Alley, the Dog Zone in KBR Plaza and the Pooch Parade.
To order tickets, click here. And when you’re parading around the warning track, be sure to look for your Astros players and their pups. Woof!
Opening Day is special, and you instantly can feel the vibe. It’s festive, it’s fun and everyone’s in a good mood. And, least importantly, it’s the one game of the year where people get all gussied up.
On Opening Day, just about everyone who covers baseball, or broadcasts baseball, or signs free agents, or helps design bobbleheads, or sits in a suite with other like-minded very important people, is dressed to the nines. The men look a little like secret service agents (without the ear buds and scowls worn by the real secret service agents who are there to protect Minute Maid Park regulars George and Barbara Bush).
Opening Day means something. The ballpark is the place to be. Even if it’s just one game of 162 played every year, what Opening Day symbolizes is recognized, and respected.
That doesn’t mean Opening Day is some stuffy cocktail party. No, quite the contrary. Opening Day is a big party, and that was never more apparent than in the nearly seven hours leading up to first pitch, when the streets surrounding Minute Maid Park were closed off and transformed into the annual rite of passage known as Street Fest.
The festival on the streets by the ballpark (hence the name Street Fest) included a little bit of everything — bands, food, beverages, fans and appearances by significant members of the team, both from the front office and the uniformed staff.
Street Fest started early and ended late and featured visits from some of the most recognizable members of the team. Two groups of Astros dropped by for two separate pep rallies.
Unsurprisingly, the second crowd, on hand for the appearance by Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Bud Norris at 4:30-ish, was slightly more spirited and, shall we say, less inhibited than the fans who moseyed over to the stage for the 12:30 show with Jeff Luhnow, Brad Mills and Larry Dierker. Hey, certain libations just flow more freely in the late afternoon hours.
Pep rallies were just one element of the Opening Day celebration. Pregame ceremonies included trotting Budweiser Clydesdales, an anthem-singing country music star (Clay Walker), ceremonial first pitches by those who contributed to the Astros’ storied history (Jimmy Wynn, Dierker and Jose Cruz) and those who are ready to usher in a brand new era of Astros baseball, including owner Jim Crane and his many board members.
Crane’s afternoon began with a lengthy visit to batting practice and brief remarks to the team assembled in the locker room a couple of hours before first pitch.
We have lots of pictures and videos to share from the day. We’ll start with Crane’s remarks to the team:
“Congrats on making the team. I know for a lot of you guys it’s your first time making the team, your first Opening Day. Have some fun.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here. We’re going to try to do things right and try to make this a fun place to be. This should be a fun team to be on so anything we can help you with, you’re part of my family now.
“One thing you’ve got to remember — those people outside (in the stands) pay the bills. We put up the money to buy the team, and we need to engage the fans, stay close to the fans. We need to be nice to the fans. We’ve worked hard at that. I’m going to ask a lot of you throughout the season when you’ve got the time. We won’t take away from your work.”
The dugout scene before the game always includes plenty of hugs and handshakes among teammates. This is the one game of the year where the sense of brotherhood is front and center. Although the camaraderie doesn’t dim through the season, you don’t see a lot of outward affection between teammates from day to day. That’s mainly saved for the opener.
Enjoy the photos from an eventful day at Minute Maid Park:
In addition to the scoreboard staffers gathering all of their material for the season during an abbreviated Spring Training jaunt, other members of the front office are also here to gather loot of a different kind.
Astros Vice President of Foundation Development Marian Harper and Director of Community Affairs Shawn Bertani are in town this week to oversee the massive autograph signing session that is currently taking place in the meeting room on the second floor of the Spring Training facility.
Players are asked to sign a host of items — balls, bats, jerseys, etc. — that will be given away over the course of the season, mostly at auctions, sponsor events and charity functions. In total, approximately 4,500 items will be signed over the course of three days:
Other notables before you head out for the weekend…
* Happy birthday to Bud Norris, who turns 27 today.
I know I’m a bit biased, but I’d rank them higher than that. I willingly, however, leave the No. 1 spot for Vin Scully, universally known as a treasure, and unmatched by any other.
FanGraphs cites the comments for Brownie and J.D. almost always “uniformly gushing,” and I can attest to that, as one of the more vocal gushers.
* The Astros begin their Grapefruit League schedule tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. CT game against the neighboring Washington Nationals. Tickets for all 15 Astros spring home games are currently available, but the Astros-Yankees game scheduled for March 31 is now at standing room only.
* Livan Hernandez will start Saturday, with J.A. Happ getting the start on Sunday at Washington. Jordan Lyles will start on Monday vs. Atlanta at home.
* The Houston College Classic will get underway at Minute Maid Park today. All nine games will be televised nationally by the Longhorn Network and ESPN3. The Longhorn Network will air each of the University of Texas’ games, while ESPN3 will pick up the remaining six games.
The six-team tournament enters its 12th year at Minute Maid Park and will feature hometown schools Rice University and the University of Houston, who will be making their annual entry into the tournament. This year’s field also includes Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Tennessee. Three of the teams in the tournament are ranked nationally among the top 25 in Baseball America’s poll, including No. 4 Arkansas, No. 5 Rice and No. 21 Texas.
We still have a month or so before Spring Training, but that doesn’t mean your Astros have gone into hibernation until it’s time to head to Florida. In fact, this week will feature two appearances by Astros players, one online and one in person.
Starting pitcher Bud Norris will participate in an online chat with fans on Wednesday, Jan. 11 beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The chat, which will last approximately 30 minutes, can be accessed here. You must be a registered member in order to ask a question.
On Thursday, third baseman Chris Johnson will be Milo Hamilton’s guest on Astroline, beginning at 7 p.m. The show airs live on 740 KTRH and Astros.com and will take place at Buffalo Wild Wings on Gray St. in Midtown. C.J. is planning to bring some autographed items to hand out as well to the folks in attendance at the venue.
The Houston College Classic will take place at Minute Maid Park March 2-4. Details and ticket information will be released soon, but in the meantime, here is the schedule and participating colleges:
Friday, March 2, 2012
Noon Texas Tech at Arkansas
3:30 p.m. Tennessee at Houston
7:00 p.m. Texas at Rice
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Noon Arkansas at Houston
3:30 p.m. Texas at Tennessee
7:00 p.m. Texas Tech at Rice
Sunday, March 4, 2012
11:00 a.m. Arkansas at Texas
2:30 p.m. Houston at Texas Tech
6:00 p.m. Rice at Tennessee
Tickets are still available for the 2012 Houston Baseball Dinner Benefiting Grand Slam For Youth Baseball’s Scholarship Program, which will include a special celebration of the Astros’ 50th Anniversary.
2012 will mark the 27th season of the popular dinner, which will take place on Friday, February 10 at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston. The event is sponsored by the Astros In Action Foundation and Minute Maid, with proceeds benefiting the Grand Slam For Youth Baseball Scholarship Program.
In addition to honoring the top players from the 2011 ballclub, this year’s dinner will include a special 50th Anniversary tribute featuring Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton and a long list of former Astros team MVPs, including Bob Watson, J.R. Richard, Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz, Enos Cabell, Bob Aspromonte and more. Phil Garner, manager of the 2005 NL Champion Astros, will also be in attendance. Members of the 2011 Astros scheduled to attend include J.D. Martinez (Rookie of the Year), Wandy Rodriguez (Pitcher of the Year) and Jason Bourgeois (Darryl Kile Award) and manager Brad Mills. Former Astros Hunter Pence (2011 MVP) and Lance Berkman (Houston Area Player of the Year) will also be recognized at the event, but are unable to attend.
Additionally, longtime Astros television broadcaster Bill Brown will receive the Fred Hartman Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Baseball. 2011 marked Brown’s 25th season as the Astros play-by-play TV voice.
As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, a special VIP reception will be held prior to the dinner, at 6 p.m., and will feature several of the former MVPs and current Astros players. A limited amount of MVP tables for 10 that will include tickets to the dinner and the VIP reception will be available for purchase for $2,500.
Dinner attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on several attractive items at a silent auction, with those proceeds also going to the GSFYB Scholarship Program.
Tickets for the dinner are priced at $100 each or at $1,000 for a table of 10, and can be purchased online at www.astros.com/baseballdinner or by calling Jo Russell at 713-789-0626. General information on the dinner is available at www.gsfyb.org, via email at email@example.com or by calling 713-259-8686.
Speaking of former Astros stars, a large number of members of the 1986 Astros will be appearing at Reliant Arena for the TRISTAR Houston Collector’s Show Jan. 20-22.
Among the familiar faces slated to appear: Nolan Ryan, Kevin Bass, Alan Ashby, Phil Garner, Jose Cruz, Danny Darwin, Hal Lanier, Mike Scott, Glenn Davis, Billy Hatcher, Bill Doran, Jim Deshaies, Dickie Thon, Terry Puhl and Bob Knepper.
It’s a tradition that is only in its second year, but the Astros have started a good thing by dedicating two full days to honoring our local heroes.
On Friday, Astros players visited local fire stations to thank firefighters for their service to the Houston community. The players “adopted” the firehouse that corresponds with their uniform numbers — Jeff Keppinger visited Fire Station No. 8 downtown, while Bud Norris visited No. 20, Brad Mills No. 2 and Jason Michaels No. 4.
The firehouse was presented with an autographed, framed jersey and an autograph and photo session with the Astros figure that visited. In two years, the Astros Adopt-A-Firehouse program has had 13 players visit local firehouses.
Images from all four firehouses:
On Saturday, the Astros will remember the ninth anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 by honoring firefighters, police, first responders and military personnel during a pregame ceremony titled “Heroes Take The Field.”
Congratulations to the Tri-City ValleyCats, who shut out Batavia, 1-0 on Thursday to advance to the New York Penn League Championship game for the third time in seven seasons. Jake Buchanan threw seven shutout innings to pick up the win, while closer Mike Ness earned the two-inning save.
Tri-City will host the Brooklyn Cyclones on Saturday in the first of a three-game series.
Interesting quotes from Dodgers manager Joe Torre before Friday’s game. Talking with KRIV’s Mark Berman, Torre noted the Astros’ sweeping roster changes and commended the team for taking the risk in retooling right in the middle of the season:
“I think it’s taken a lot of courage for them to do this. I admire what they’re doing. It’s sort of like that kid in class. You’re always admiring that kid who asked the question that you were afraid to ask. It’s something I think has to be done.”
“The mortal sin is the fact that you don’t try. You’re gonna make mistakes because the only way you are going to find out if what you’re doing is working is to get them out there in between the lines and work it.”
“You have to exercise some patience in hoping you can be a part of watching them grow and I’m talking about the fans here, and the fans that were here (Thursday) seem very enthusiastic with the club they are watching on the field.”
From the photo vault…
In honor of our old friend and current Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus being in town this weekend, I present to you one of my favorite pictures from a Fan Fest many moons ago.
Players were paired up for the photo booth session, and I always felt a little sorry for the poor chap who was stuck with Ausmus, because, well, his services weren’t really needed. Invariably, a large portion of the female fan base would point to Ausmus and politely say to the other player, “Thanks, but I want the picture with just him.”
Eric Bruntlett, as you can see here, didn’t take it personally and spent most of his hour in the photo booth leaning out of the shot.
The Astros are going with the unconventional 13 pitchers and 12 position players for the time being, but a quick look at the rotation situation and the schedule shows that this is probably the right thing to do for now.
Bud Norris will miss at least two starts with bursitis and elbow tendinitis, which pushes Brian Moehler into starting duty. Moehler obviously has extensive experience both starting and relieving, but he’s not exactly stretched out for rotation duty. His longest outing of the season is three innings, and that happened in his second appearance on April 9.
So it’s entirely possible that Moehler might be able to pitch into the sixth or seventh inning Saturday, which is where Wesley Wright comes in. He has been starting at Round Rock and is a prime candidate for the long man role Moehler vacated when he overtook Norris’s spot.
The other issue is the schedule. The Astros are in a stretch of 20 games without an off day, the most consecutive games a team can play without a day off, per league rules. They have 17 more days before their next break, which could be taxing for the pitchers. Having the extra arm in the ‘pen is smart, and probably necessary.
The baseball rules book spells out, in excruciatingly specific detail, every single thing one needs to know in order to properly execute a nine-inning Major League game. This includes regulations for equipment — bats, gloves, catchers mitts and jerseys, and on and on.
Here’s something I didn’t know until Monday — regulation gloves have to be a certain color — or, more specifically, there are certain colors gloves are NOT supposed to be. One page nine of the official baseball rule book, the guidelines are stated in Rule 1.15 a:
“The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of the umpire, distracting in any manner.”
Bud Norris apparently pulled off the hat trick in his start versus the Blue Jays — his glove was a little white-ish, slightly gray-ish, and, in the umpire’s opinion, distracting.
The umpires pointed out the glove’s incorrect hue (seen above…the one on top is the game glove. Bottom one is one slightly darker but still too light) but told Norris he could finish out the second inning if he so desired. Norris thought better of it and simply to grabbed his old black glove to finish his outing.
“I guess (Toronto’s) manager (Cito Gaston) said something, which is fair,” Norris said. “It’s in a rule book to a certain degree. I’m not looking to get an advantage. I’m just going out there with a glove.”
Norris was more focused on getting outs than color schemes, which should be good news to his new skipper and pitching coach. Although Norris is all but guaranteed a starting spot (barring a disastrous spring), he’s not looking at his spot on this team as a done deal.
“I have a new manager, new pitching coach,” Norris said of the Brads — Mills and Arnsberg. “Everything I did last year doesn’t really count. I have to prove myself all over again. I still need to earn that spot.”
You’ll often hear pitchers say their “working on things” early in the spring season, and on Monday, Norris concentrated on one thing — working from the stretch, something he struggled with at times during his rookie campaign in ’09.
“Last year, there were a couple of times that I made some mistakes out of the stretch, so that’s something I wanted to work on this year,” he said. “The bigger situations are from the stretch, and that’s what I wanted to work on today.”
Norris allowed one earned run — a homer — over two innings. He walked two and struck out two.
From batting practice in the morning:
Puma, Lee, Berry
“Social media” is a relatively new term, but it’s quickly changing the way companies do business. In sports, social media is opening up all kinds of new avenues for teams to directly communicate with their fans. With Spring Training upon us, there is no better time for Major League Baseball — and more specifically, your Houston Astros — to bring you every nugget of what is going on, through articles, pictures, videos, blogs and Twitter updates.
If you haven’t joined the Astros Facebook page, I invite you to do so. We’re posting daily photo albums from camp in an effort to give you the fly-on-the-wall perspective that is now available with a simple click of the mouse. All blogs, as well as Brian McTaggart’s outstanding mlb.com coverage, can be found there.
We’re also posting daily videos, which live on both the homepage of astros.com and a special video section which you can find here. Those videos are also linked to my Footnotes page, which is a landing page that includes blogs, videos and links to my Twitter account.
So far, we’ve posted a Roy Oswalt interview, two workout videos, a Brad Mills segment and footage from Drayton McLane’s announcement of Ed Wade’s contract extension. You’ll also find archived segments from the Astros’ recent offseason caravans.
Our goal is to bring you close to the action, even if you can’t be there in person. We have a ton of new faces in camp this year, so there’s no better time to start getting to know the new Astros, as well as say hello to old friends.
Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino
Oswalt practices fielding grounders back to the mound. That’s Jose Cruuuuz at first base.
Bud Norris, Brian Moehler throw bullpens.
Felipe Paulino throws a bullpen (with the Astros braintrust watching from behind).
Catchers Humberto Quintero and Jason Castro.