Results tagged ‘ Carlos Lee ’

Yankee Stadium: As good as advertised.

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Television announcer Bill Brown summed it up nicely when I asked him what he thought of the new Yankee Stadium before Friday’s game:

“The concourses are wide, the field looks great, the access is wonderful. For $1.3 billion, it should be.”

And it is. The ballpark is gorgeous, worth every penny, whether you’re looking at it from a fan’s perspective or from a player’s perspective behind the scenes. Upon first glance, it reminds you a lot of the old Yankee Stadium, only (obviously) more modern. The white facades that were such a part of the old place have been resurrected in the new. And since it’s less than two years old, it’s still sparkling clean.

Enjoy the images, as well as the video we captured from the new ballpark

Blum, Keppinger, Pence

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The famous Lou Gehrig speech…this picture hangs near one of the main entrances at Yankee Stadium.

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The view from the visitors dugout.

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Jason Michaels, Jeff Keppinger.

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Carlos Lee.

 

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Roy Oswalt, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. And Chris Sampson.

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An outside view of the entrance at Yankee Stadium.

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A shot of the press box. You’ll notice Astros writers Brian McTaggart and Bernardo Fallas.

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It’s slightly ironic that the Astros are making their first trip to the Yankees’ new stadium this weekend, considering their first and only trip to the old one was this same weekend seven years ago.

Friday marked the seven-year anniversary of the six-pitcher no-hitter the Astros completed against the Yankees. The game that was historical on many levels and hysterical on still more, considering before it had even ended, speculation that George Steinbrenner was going to fire the hitting coach had already circulated around the press box and on the radio airwaves. Only in New York.

Three things stand out to me about that night more than any other:
1) Jeff Kent did not know it was a no-hitter until Billy Wagner told him once the last out was made. Kent, not exactly Mr. Congeniality to begin with, looked at Wags with an expression that was a combination of surprise, confusion and disapproval. Why in the world would Wagner pound his glove and then raise his fist in the air after closing out one of hundreds of games he’d appeared in by now? Kent: “What the heck are you doing?” Wags: “Dude. We just no-hit the Yankees.” Kent, breaking into huge grin: “Really?”

2) Octavio Dotel recorded four strikeouts during his inning of work, after one batter had reached on a wild pitch.

3) That night, Brad Lidge schooled some of his teammates on the historical meaning of what had just transpired. Lidge, a history buff, already knew plenty of obscure stats that put the no-hitter in perspective. The next day, he arrived with five or six more facts about the no-hitter that no one knew before. The guy was a walking encyclopedia. 

That brings us to the cool tidbit of the day, courtesy of media relations All-Star Sally Gunter: Two of the six Astros pitchers to contribute to the no-hitter seven seasons ago were in attendance at Friday’s game. Roy Oswalt was in the Astros dugout while former Astro Pete Munro (a native New Yorker) watched the game from the stands.

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Back to 2010…random tidbits from the pregame session with Brad Mills:

Carlos Lee will likely DH during Saturday’s game. A lot of you asked, rightfully, why Jason Michaels wasn’t playing left with Lee, with his shaky defense, isn’t DH-ing. Mills said Lee really wanted to play in left for at least the opener but would definitely DH for at least one game this series.

Matt Lindstrom had back spasms was unavailable to pitch during Thursday’s game in Denver. He felt better the next day in New York, but he was again deemed unable to pitch that night (which didn’t matter, since there was no save situation).

Consider Lindstrom day-to-day. Each day, Mills will check with him after he loosens up and throws during batting practice, and his availability will be decided before the game.

Radio announcer Milo Hamilton doesn’t travel with the team, but he makes exceptions when the Astros play in a  new ballpark that he’s never visited. Milo’s broadcast of the Astros-Yankees game on Friday marked the 58th different ballpark he’s called a game from.

On Wandy and LosAstros. And a few random thoughts.

Wandy Rodriguez was the recipient of quite a few man hugs from when he got back to the clubhouse after his complete game shutout over the Pirates on Wednesday, and who can argue? He tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts, doing so for the second time this year, and he lowered his home ERA this season to 2.21.

A couple more notes on Wandy’s outstanding start:

The Astros are 12-6 in games he has started this year.

He threw 125 pitches, a career-high.

The shutout was the second of his career and the fourth complete game thrown by an Astros pitcher this year.

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The Twitter craze is a world-wide phenomenon, and count Astros En Espanol as the latest entity to jump into the social networking era. “LosAstros” is  now fully functional and giving 140-character updates on all things Astros, in Spanish.

The Astros have one of the largest local Hispanic fan bases in baseball, right up there with the Dodgers and Mets. They also have a huge following internationally because of their Spanish Web site, which reaches fans in Mexico, Venezuela, Panama and Puerto Rico.

Through “LosAstros” on Twitter, the Astros hope to give fans insight into the team they wouldn’t otherwise get and also to give information about the Spanish Web site, TV show and radio broadcasts.

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Random thoughts:
* Last year, I remember thinking on more than one occasion that this Michael Bourn thing wasn’t working out and they really needed to start looking for another solution in center field.  Patience, of course, is one of the most important qualities in a general manager. It is not, however, one of my strong suits, which is why I’m glad Ed Wade is the GM and I’m not.

* When the Astros and Nationals game was suspended on May 5, Elijah Dukes was on first in the bottom of the 11th inning. But Dukes has since been shipped to Triple-A, so the Nationals will simply put in a pinch-runner for him when the game resumes Thursday.

* Pirates starter Charlie Morton faced the Astros only one other time before Wednesday’s game, and while his start then wasn’t memorable, the game certainly was. Morton was with the Braves on July 6, 2008, when he allowed six runs over six innings. That was the forgettable part. What was unforgettable — if you were a) playing for the Astros; b) watching the game on TV or listening on the radio; or c) covering the game as a reporter (such as myself) — was that the game was delayed by rain for more than two hours and then promptly lasted 17 innings.

What I’ll really never forget is how hungry I became around the 14th inning, to the point of desperation. I scoured the ballpark for an open concession stand and had made it almost around the entire circumference before mercifully finding one lone stand still operating. I said, “what do you have?” The lady at the stand said, “Nachos, and one hot dog.” So I bought both.

Later, I bragged to Wade that I bought the last hot dog at Turner Field. He said, “I don’t know if I’d want to eat something that had been sitting around that long,” and I said, “No worries. I gave it to McTaggart.”

* Puma, observing my furious typing after Wednesday’s win: “Twitter! Twitter!” See, I knew he’d come around. For those of you who have asked, no, Puma is not into the Twitter-Facebook thing and never will be…he likes a simpler life, even though he does travel with one of those cool electronic books. So he’s not totally living in the early 2000s.

* LaTroy Hawkins will “start” the suspended game Thursday. He was on the mound when the game was called in D.C.

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Throwing out the ceremonial pitch on Wednesday was Roberto Duran, a retired boxer from Panama. Considered in boxing circles as one of the greatest of his generation, Duran is a friend of fellow Panamanian Carlos Lee, who invited Duran to visit with him at Minute Maid Park:

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Astros are on Facebook

Alyson Footer is on Twitter  

 

Mier signs on the dotted line…and heads to Greeneville.

Jiovanni Mier didn’t have a lot of time to acclimate himself to Houston on Friday — in fact, it was one of those here today, gone tomorrow trips that involved taking care of business quickly and moving on to the next task.

That’s fine with Mier. Over the course of 36 hours, he will have signed his first professional baseball contract and arrived to the city where he’ll reside for the next several months — Greeneville, Tenn., home of the Rookie League Greeneville Astros.

Mier, the Astros’ first-round Draft pick, will assume the full-time duties at shortstop as early as Sunday. Prior to his departure, the California native spent a little over a day in the Bayou City, where he signed on the dotted line, autographed a handful of baseballs, met with the media, took batting practice on the field with the Astros and waved to the Minute Maid Park crowd as he was introduced by P.A. announcer Bob Ford in between innings.

Not bad for an 18-year-old only three weeks removed from his high school graduation.

Here’s a quick pictoral overview of Mier’s day:

Mier and Doug Deutsch, the scout who signed him, chat with club owner Drayton McLane.

 

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After a brief exchange of pleasantries, it was time to get down to business. I quickly learned signing a professional contract is sort of like closing on a house. Requires lots and lots of signatures, and then when you think you’re done, you sign your name around 10 more times (Scouting GM Bobby Heck on left).

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That’s his brother, Robert, and his mom, Leticia. Mier’s other brother, Jessie, is a catcher in the Dodgers system.  

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Leticia had to sign the contract as well, because Jiovanni is under the age of 21 — the legal age in New York, where Major League Baseball is based. As Heck pointed out, that is why the relationships between the team and the family of the player is important — the parents or guardians have to know the club will take care of their son.

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Group photo — Heck, McLane and Deutsch; Leticia, Jiovanni and Robert Mier; agents Brodie Scoffield  and Greg Genske.

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Mier signed about a dozen baseballs — the first of many, many dozens of baseballs he hopes to sign throughout his career.

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The Mier family brought personalized champagne bottles to the front office as a thank you…each bottle came with a picture, and the words “in appreciation in joining the Houston Astros.”

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Jiovanni suits up in the clubhouse. I have to say he did a phenomenal job of acting natural despite the cameras following him around.

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Now comes the hard part: meeting the team. Everyone was very welcoming (yes, Tejada included).

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Mier takes batting practice, while Wade takes in the scene from behind the cage.  

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Read Jason Grodky’s full report of the signing here.

Other news from Astros camp includes this bit  about Mike Hampton coming off the DL in time to pitch Tuesday.

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Mier’s BP session was fun to watch, but not quite as entertaining as Ed Wade and Carlos Lee’s exchange behind the cage while the young shortstop was hitting. The two had some laughs as Wade sent some pretty funny zingers Lee’s way. My favorite:

Lee (noticing Mier is a good hitter): “He swings like me.”

Wade: “He swings like you. I just hope he doesn’t run like you.”

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For those of you on Facebook (and really, these days, who isn’t?), are you member of the Astros Facebook page? It’s a useful tool — sort of one-stop shopping for information about promotions, ticket specials and player appearances, while also providing links to this blog and the news of the day from Astros.com.  I’m also posting a bunch of photos under the fan photo section at the top.

Astros Facebook Page

 

Alyson Footer is on Facebook and Twitter

Yes, Puma, taking pictures is now my full-time job.

And he can barely contain his excitement:
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Seriously, though…great to see the team back in town, and really, really great to see hitting coach Sean Berry, who’s back from a three-week hiatus after having a cancerous kidney removed. He looks great and says he’s feeling good. Obviously, his team — more specifically, the hitters — were happy to see him. Here he is with Geoff Blum:
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And with Puma:
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And Coop:
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Jose Valverde has rejoined the team, even though he’s just now taking the very small steps toward returning to the mound. Here he is hanging behind the cage with the coaches:

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And last but most definitely not least, here is my somewhat frazzled friend Brian McTaggart…it’s his first day on the job as the new Astros beat writer for MLB.com. I taught him everything I know…but don’t hold it against him. Next to him is the Rockies MLB.com beat writer, Thomas Harding.

(Next time you email Tags, ask him about the Astros chances to get Ben Sheets and trade for Jake Peavy. He likes that.)

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Bits and pieces from postgame interviews…
Roy Oswalt:
“Hopefully, this homestand, we can get something going.”

On his early-season struggles::
“No matter how long you play this game, you’re going to run into a skid when you’re not playing well. Even some Hall of Famers have hit some skids along the way. You’re only human — a lot of people go through different things. It’s how you work out of it.”

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As Carlos Lee exited the clubhouse, he high-fived Sean Berry and said, “I missed you man. I haven’t done anything in two weeks.” Perhaps not so coincidentally, Lee logged his first RBI in more than two weeks on the very day Berry returned after a three-week absence.

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If you didn’t see the foul-ball incident involving Michael Bourn in the seventh inning, don’t look for it in the highlights. (It’s one of those injuries that make men cringe.) Anyway, Cooper was asked about it after the game, and he paused briefly, chuckled a bit and said, “I don’t want to talk about that one. We’ll just move on.”

Alyson Footer is on Facebook and Twitter 
 

Hampton’s OK, Lee’s on his way

It was good to see Mike Hampton walk into the clubhouse today, but it was somewhat chilling to hear how scared he was while going through the ordeal. Even though he knew he was probably going to be fine, he was pretty on edge until he, and his heart, got that clean bill of health. Hampton threw an abbreviated bullpen Wednesday and shouldn’t be held back from anything down the road, which is good.

It was nice to hear Ed Wade be so definitive about Pudge Rodriguez. He’s been up front with the club’s disinterest in the free agent catcher, but every time I heard another rumor about the Astros being one of the teams Pudge was considering, I had to wonder. The news of Toby Hall having an MRI on his shoulder prompted me to say to Wade, jokingly, “So maybe now you’re going to make that offer to Pudge?” To which Wade responded, “We are not signing Pudge. Let’s put that to rest right now.”

So, consider the topic officially resting. Until Pudge says he’ll play for the league minimum.

Leftover news and notes:
Every player on the 40-man roster submitted urine samples for scheduled drug testing. This is different from random testing, of course. But the rules are the same, and, might I add, somewhat unpleasant, considering players have to be watched when they submit their samples. I remember having a conversation with Lance Berkman last year about his support of blood testing, and I reminded him that his very own union argued that blood testing was an invasion of privacy. He said something along the lines of, “You want to talk invasion of privacy? Ever had any watch you [use the bathroom?"]

My answer, thankfully, was no.

Carlos Lee is due to arrive to camp Thursday morning. It’ll be interesting to hear how he explains not reporting on time. I want to believe that he truly just had the date wrong, but I’m struggling.

Chris Sampson, fully recovered from offseason elbow surgery, is still a few days behind his teammates activity-wise, but he’s expected the throw off the mound Monday or Tuesday of next week. Also, Jose Valverde is experiencing no ill effects from the skin irritation on his right arm.

Alyson

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