Results tagged ‘ Darin Erstad ’
If you took a survey of 100 Major League players and asked them to name their favorite road city, it’s highly likely no fewer than 95 would answer, “Chicago.”
The people. The restaurants. The nightlife. And the ballpark.
Yes, the ballpark. For the most part, ballplayers love Wrigley Field. They love the tradition, the heckling fans, the packed houses every night, the rickety old infrastructure and the elaborate singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that has continued as a tradition since Harry Caray’s passing 11 years ago.
The clubhouse is cramped, the tunnels smell funny and the dugouts are tiny, but for some reason, none of that matters. Because it’s Chicago, it’s Wrigley Field, and it’s fun. And the showdowns between the Astros and Cubs over the years have been, for the most part, fantastic.
Above is a shot of my view of Wrigley Field from way up in the press box. Day games at Wrigley are preferred, but there’s nothing like the view on a clear, rain-free night.
Cleaning out the photo file…
It was Family Day at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, the one day players are invited to bring their kids on the field for a free-for-all run around the bases (and the outfield and the dugouts and the mound…must be a fun day for the grounds crew).
I’ve been to a dozen family days but for some reason this one seemed more well-attended than those in the past. Check out this photo…and that’s only part of the group.
Darin Erstad and family…
Sean Berry and family…
On Saturday, I attended the annual Texas Italian American Sports Foundation Scholarship Awards luncheon, a yearly ritual that involves Astros players, great food and a terrific cause.
The event is held at Damian’s Cucina Italiana every year and provides scholarships for student-athletes headed for college in the fall.
Representing the Astros were Jeff Fulchino, Mike Hampton, Jose Cruz, Hunter Pence and emcee Milo Hamilton. And the bread pudding was to die for.
Milo, with a young fan…
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Hunter Pence’s cell phone is, as they say, blowing up. He’s received about as many calls and text messages regarding his first All-Star selection as when he was first called up in 2007.
I asked him if any congratulatory messages stood out more than the others. He pinpointed two, the first of which occurred in the batting cages at AT&T Park in San Francisco early Sunday morning. Teammate Darin Estad pretty much pummelled Pence with a big bear hug when he found out the news. That meant a lot to Hunter, as did the message he received from former teammate Ty Wigginton, offering his congrats.
Erstad and “Wiggy” are two players Pence respects tremendously and looks up to, and Pence went as far to say Wigginton is probably the smartest baseball player he’s ever been around. “He doesn’t miss anything, and he remembers every detail from every game,” Pence said, adding that Wigginton is “all heart.”
The Astros and Nationals will complete the May 5 game that was suspended due to rain this Thursday, beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT. We’ve gone over a lot of the ground rules already, but it can’t hurt to revisit. Plus, we have some more tidbits regarding the rules and regulations for that game.
First, the bare basics: Fans with tickets to the regularly-scheduled 7:05 p.m. game Thursday will also be admitted to the suspended game continuation. No separate tickets will be sold. Gates will open at 5 p.m.
The regularly scheduled game will start at 7:05 p.m., unless the suspended game ends after 6:45 p.m. In that case, there will be a 20-minute break between games.
The game will resume just as it was when originally suspended on May 5 in a 10-10 tie. It will resume in the bottom of the 11th inning, with the Nationals at-bat with one out and a runner on first base (Elijah Dukes). LaTroy Hawkins was the pitcher on the mound, and he is allowed to continue his outing if the Astros see fit.
And here’s some more fun stuff…
* All position players and pitchers who were used and removed from the game on May 5 will not be eligible to return to the contest. For the Astros, those players include Carlos Lee and Jason Michaels, as well as pitchers Roy Oswalt, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak and Geoff Geary.
* Players who are currently on the roster, but were not when the game was originally suspended, are eligible to play in the suspended game. Players who were in the lineup when play suspended, but are not currently on the active roster, must be subbed for in the same position and batting order.
Interestingly, this will be the first time the Astros host a suspended game since July 23, 1999. The Astros and Padres finished their June 13 game, which was suspended when Larry Dierker suffered a grand mal seizure in the home dugout at the Astrodome. That game was halted in the middle of the eighth inning with the Astros leading, 4-1, and they eventually won it.
As we continue the final homestand leading up to the All-Star break, here’s a quick rundown of the ticket specials the Astros are offering this week:
Kids Free All Summer (purchase one full-price adult ticket in the View Deck I, View Deck II or Mezzanine and receive two free tickets in the same price level for kids 14 and under)
Tuesday, July 7: Double Play Tuesdays (Two Outfield Deck Tickets for only $2 — bring in two labels from any 2 – 32 oz. POWERade bottles to the Minute Maid Park Box Office)
Wednesday, July 8: Price Matters (View Deck II ticket, Hot dog, Soda, Chips — all for $10.)
Hunter’s Lodge (Field Box seat and Pence t-shirt for $30)
Bayou Bash Sunday
From the photo vault:
Astronaut Mike Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s game, and here he is outside of Dennis’s office, receiving a personalized Astros jersey while chatting it up with Craig Biggio (remember what I said about Dennis’s office being the epicenter of the Astros’ universe?).
Massimino is a veteran of two space flights, most recently the Shuttle Mission STS-125, a 12-day mission to the Hubble telescope. In total, Massimino has logged almost 600 hours of space flight time and has performed over 30 hours of spacewalks.
The Astros presented Massimino with a banner signed by the entire front office and all of the players, the same banner that went up with Massimino on the last space mission.
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Manager Cecil Cooper decided to rest a “scuffling” Hunter Pence on Saturday, hoping the break would get the right fielder back on track. Pence was hitless in his last 11 at-bats and was 0-for-4 in the opener at Chase Field on Friday. Darin Erstad received the start in Pence’s place.
The remaining lineup changes on Saturday were made due to injury. Jeff Keppinger has a tight back and was deemed unavailable for at least one game, while Geoff Blum’s hamstring injury reappeared during Friday’s game, forcing an early exit which will likely lead to multiple games missed in the near future.
If the hamstring doesn’t feel better in the next couple of days, Blum said he’s not opposed to going on the disabled list. He’d rather spend two full weeks making sure the injury is gone for good rather than play a week, miss a week, play a week, etc. That determination will be made sooner than later, I suspect.
(Update: two more injury issues popped up during Saturday’s game — right shoulder fatigue for Chris Sampson and a left leg cramp for Carlos Lee. Lee is day to day, and Coop said Sampson’s isn’t an injury as much as his arm is simply tired. He has been somewhat overused and Coop compared it to Doug Brocail’s situation in the first half last year. Look for Sampson’s work load to ease up a bit).
Jose Valverde forgot about the early start time on Saturday, so he arrived to the clubhouse a tad later than the other players. Cooper waited for him before making the roster move official, just to make sure Valverde was indeed ready to come off the disabled list.
Valverde walked into Coop’s office and said, “I’m fine.” Cooper said, “Jog in place.” Valverde ran around Cooper’s office (it took about two seconds, considering the office is small and it was filled at the time with several reporters and broadcasters). Upon completion of that drill, Cooper informed his closer he was officially back in the “GP.” GP stands for “general population.”
(Update, 10:55 p.m. CT: Valverde recorded one out in the eighth. Hawkins closed out game in the ninth).
Wesley Wright was sent back to Round Rock to make room for Valverde. That didn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the Astros are still committed to giving Wright a bigger workload that might eventually translate into him becoming a starter.
When he first announced his pending open-heart surgery during Spring Training, Aaron Boooooooooone sounded doubtful that he would play baseball again this year. But a little over two months into the season, Boooooooone has increased his level of optimism. The 36-year-old infielder hasn’t ruled out a September comeback, assuming he stays on scheduled with his workouts and rehabs.
Boone envisions working out regularly with the Astros in July and possibly spending the month of August rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. That would leave open the possibility of playing in September, when rosters expand to 40 and adding him would not necessitate sending someone down.
If the Astros happen to be in a playoff race by then, the presence of an Aaron Boone would be huge. He’s a veteran, he’s had some huge moments in the postseason and he’s a good teammate. Sounds like a feel-good comeback story in the making…
From the Ask Alyson files:
What should we, fans, make of Jiovanni Mier’s comment about Miguel Tejada? And, what does this first pick mean for Tommy Manzella? I know Mier won’t be ready for the Majors right away, but my understanding is that Manzella is (was?) supposed to be our future shorstop — Renauds
For those who missed it, Mier told reporters the night he was drafted that a scout told him the team was looking to “get rid of Tejada” and they were looking for shortstops.
Everyday beat reporters had little use for the comment, mainly because an 18-year-old kid who is three years from the big leagues, minimum, has nothing to do with Tejada, who is hardly likely to still be around in 2012 when this kid might be knocking on the door. Plus, we don’t know the context of the quote — which scout actually said it, and if that was what he actually said.
Mier never should have said what he said, but give me a break. I’m not counting on Tejada being here next year, let alone in three years. In the talk radio circuit, Mier’s comment was a good way to kill a couple of hours. There’s no doubt that Mier shouldn’t have said what he said, but let’s put it in perspective. The Astros drafted four shortstops in the early rounds and it had nothing to do with Tejada and everything to do with building depth at the up-the-middle positions in the organization.
As for Manzella, he’ll get his shot next Spring Training. I’d like to see him, or someone defensively sound like him, to get the every day job. But again, Manzella and Mier are not intertwined. Good, deep, well-run organizations have many good prospects at every level, not just one or two. Depth is the name of the game.
Photos from first two days in Phoenix:
Broadcasters Jim Deshaies, Dave Raymond and Bill Brown pass the time in the dugout before batting practice.
Bet you didn’t know Friday was national “Put your hands on your hips” day. Apparently, these three got the memo.
Roy Oswalt tells local Fox affiliate that his wrist is fine.
A familiar sight — Hunter Pence smiling and signing autographs.
Hey, look who’s standing upright! Actually, this was Jose Valverde one day before being activated from the disabled list.
Aaron Booooooone warming up with the team on Saturday. He says he’s put most of the weight back on that he lost after the heart surgery.
Here’s a shot of batting practice, from my seat in the press box.
Oswalt and Brian Moehler have a quiet conversation during BP.
A shot from the clubhouse: Hunter Pence and Jeff Keppinger, playing chess. Everyone else watched the Mets-Yankees game.