Results tagged ‘ Erstad ’

On Erstad, Brocail, Berkman and Sampson.

Cecil Cooper was planning for a while to play Darin Erstad in right field and rest Hunter Pence on Thursday, but he admitted he had second thoughts after Pence homered and doubled during the previous night’s game with the Dodgers. In the end, Cooper decided to stick with his original plan.

“It takes guts to take [Pence] out after last night,” Cooper said. “I hope [the fans] don’t boo me tonight.”

The decision was more about Erstad than Pence. Erstad had only 10 at-bats heading into this game and no starts.

“We need to get Erstad a start,” Cooper said. “That’s the reason we’re doing it. He needs to get four at-bats, or three at-bats in a game so he can feel comfortable. When a guy gets that, he usually starts to feel better. Then, when we use him in key situations, he’s ready.”


Considering Alex Rodriguez just had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, I couldn’t help but wonder if Chris Sampson was headed for the same fate. Why can one player play through a tear in his labrum and the other can’t?

So, I asked Ed Wade about that, and he compared Sampson’s tear to peeling an orange. If you peel it slightly back but don’t break it off, it snaps back into place. As long as the labrum doesn’t tear further he should be OK, but there are no guarantees that it won’t.

“I guess it’s degrees of tolerance more than anything,” Wade said. “He’s had soreness and then there was the bang-bang play [at first base] where he fell back. He tweaked it again and that’s when they told us it was incumbent to get the MRI.”

Sampson will probably have the tear looked at again when the season is over, and at that time, he might opt to have it surgically repaired. That’s a long way away however, and for now, he’ll pitch through it.
“He might have episodes over the course of the season where he’s too sore to pitch,” Wade said. “Or back-to-back days at different times might be a problem. We don’t know at this point. It’s going to be up to him to let us know how he’s feeling.”

Right now, Sampson is still enjoying the effects of a pain-numbing cortisone shot he took earlier this week, so it’s safe to say he’s feeling just fine.


At some point Wednesday, Doug Brocail was scheduled to make a Minor League rehab appearance. But he said he was going to try to talk Cooper and pitching coach Dewey Robsinson out of it, and apparently, it worked. Brocail will throw a simulated game
Friday instead and if that goes well, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be activated on Sunday when he’s eligible to come off the DL.

“What if he had gone there to Round Rock and thrown six pitches, or five?” Cooper said. “He’s not a guy that’s going to sit down after six pitches and get up and go another inning. It didn’t make a lot of sense. He’s going to do it here, and we’ll see if we can get him activated soon after.”


Lance Berkman’s homer Thursday night was the 292nd of his career, which moved him ahead of Craig Biggio for second place on the club’s all-time home run list.

So now, Berkman is sandwiched in between Biggio [291] and Jeff Bagwell [449].

“I’m honored to be in the same company as the two franchise icons,” he said.

As proud as he is to have played with Bagwell and Biggio, Berkman is OK with the fact that he is NOT an original Killer B. He is actually quick to remind us that he was playing at Rice when the whole Killer B thing first started in 1996.

It’s for that reason that Berkman doesn’t quite understand the buzzing sound played over the loudspeaker from time to time when he bats, and come to think of it, neither does hitting coach Sean Berry, one of the founding fathers of the first wave of Killer B’s. [That group included Bagwell, Biggio, Berry and Derek Bell].

Overheard: Brad Ausmus, acknowledging that this is the Dodgers’ only trip to Minute Maid Park this year: “This is the last time I’ll never play here.”

During Spring Training, we polled several key figures from the last 10 years on their favorite Minute Maid Park memories. We’re rolling them out slowly over the course of the season. First up, Roy Oswalt. Check it out here [scroll down]:

From the camera archives:
The Astros are a close bunch. Puma demonstrated this while preparing to do an interview with radio announcer Dave Raymond. Puma’s like that close talker from Seinfeld. Dave acted like he was uncomfortable but I think he secretly liked it.


Here they are at a more comfortable distance:


I have no idea what Ed Wade and Randy Wolf were talking about, but being the nosy photographer I am, I snapped this and drew my own conclusions. Wade’s a big fan of Wolf; it wouldn’t surprise me if he made another run at him next offseason.

Bagwell in the house.

It’s always good to see Jeff Bagwell, and it’ll be fun to him around for the next week or so. The retired first baseman, now one of general manager Ed Wade’s 27 special assistants [OK, that’s a slight exaggeration] will float between the Minor League and Major League complexes and he plans to be in uniform for the Astros’ Grapefruit League opener at Osceola County Stadium on Wednesday.

“I’ll probably see some of the Minor League kids and go straight over there on Thursday,” Bagwell said. “I’ll be at the game tomorrow, walking around. It really depends on what Matty tells me I’m going to do.”

That would be Matt Galante, who is — you guessed it — a special assistant to Ed Wade.


I don’t know about you, but talking to Darin Erstad about blowing his nose is making me sort of uncomfortable. Not nearly as uncomfortable, however, as I was talking to Kaz Matsui about his Spring Training problem this time last year. Still, having to ask Erstad what he’s going to do the next couple of weeks when he has to blow his nose, but can’t, was both humorous and nauseating.

Incidentally, Erstad does have a backup plan. I’ll let you use your imagination on that one.


The mood in camp today was a little more upbeat than normal. Brandon Backe is starting to get the color back in his face, which was good to see. Doug Brocail was his typically chatty self, and seems to be working through his tendinitis issues.

Lance Berkman told me he asked Ed Wade [jokingly] for a two-year, $20 million extension. Wade joked back that the only extra money they’re spending on him is for his retirement party.


I’m hearing Miguel Tejada may not play in the World Baseball Classic after all. Playing time may be an issue, and the Dominican Repulic team may be considering asking Tejada to play out of position. We’ll find out soon enough because final rosters are being announced tonight on MLB Network, but it sounds like he’s reconsidering his decision to play.


I’m still in the process of trying to figure out how this blog thing works, and as you probably have noticed, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the picture posting part. But I really can’t let my shot of Tim Kurkjian in yesterday’s blog be the only picture I post. So here’s a shot of Berkman, pretending to be mad that I’m taking his picture. He does this often. Instead of ignoring the photographers like all of the other players, Lance can’t help himself. Here, he is saying “Would you please put that dang camera away?” Strong words from the Puma.

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Bunting can be fun. But the flu? Not so much.

One thing I’ve learned about ballplayers over the years is that they take competitiveness to an entirely different level, no matter what they’re doing. Of course, they’re ultra competitive when they’re on the field playing baseball, but that fierceness spills over to other parts of their life, and often, no matter what they’re doing, they’re doing it to win.

Take the annual bunting competition among pitchers, for example. In a nutshell, the grass in front of the plate is sectioned off by points, and the goal is to have the ball stop in the boxes labeled one, two and three. Other boxes are labeled minus one, minus two and minus three — those are the boxes too close to the plate and too close to the mound.

The finals were Monday, and Doug Brocail won the whole thing, despite receiving an earful from Tim Byrdak, who stood behind the cage and attempted to rattle his teammates.

“It’s a good thing Milo showed up,” Byrdak said, referring to the Astros’ 81-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster, Milo Hamilton. “Now Brocail is the second oldest guy in camp.”

To bunting-challenged Chad Paronto, Byrdak said simply, “I want to rip my eyes out. This is horrible.”


A Major League clubhouse is useful for many reasons, but unfortunately, it also can be a launching pad for germs. When one person gets sick, they all get sick, as appears to be the case this week in Astros camp. This time, it’s a stomach flu that is going around, and for those of you that have had that particular virus, you know it’s awful. Brandon Backe came in this morning feeling like he lost 10 pounds over the last 35 hours, and Edwin Maysonet had a similar bout with the illness as well. I just heard the Diamondbacks had 11 players and coaches out with the stomach flu at the same time, so maybe the Astros should consider themselves lucky.


One of my favorite baseball analysts in Tim Kurkjian from ESPN, and it was great to see him today at Astros camp. He’s floating around the Spring Training sites and hopes to get to all 30 teams in the next couple of weeks. He was nice enough to not only not be offended when I laughed at his outfit today, but he also let me take a picture. This is what broadcasters often look like when they go on camera — tie and sport coat — and shorts (out of shot, of course).


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I think my favorite quote of the day came from Darin Erstad, who is as understated and humble as they come but is really funny, even when he’s not trying to be. He was amused when a couple of us reporter types rushed over to talk to him about the ground ball that bounced off his cheekbone yesterday, forcing him to have a precautionary x-ray taken, just to be sure nothing was wrong.

Erstad thought nothing of the mishap when it first happened and continued on with the workout, but later, he sensed something may be not quite right.

“I went to blow my nose last night and I said ‘Uh, I better check this out,” he said.