Results tagged ‘ Felipe Paulino ’

On Bagwell, Berkman, LeBron and Scott Sullivan.

Jeff Bagwell reflected upon his first day on the job as the Astros’ hitting coach with a touch of humor, threatening to pull a LeBron James while also revealing an interesting exchange with Lance Berkman.

The Astros hit enough Friday night to beat the Pirates, against whom they’re 7-0 this year, their best record against the Bucs to begin a season. Jeff Keppinger came up with a clutch homer and Humberto Quintero had two nice hits, but Berkman, who said before the game Bagwell was kind of like the dad you didn’t want to make mad, went 0-for-4.

“He disappointed me tonight,” Bagwell said, joking. “He got no hits.”

Apparently, Berkman found solace in this by bringing up a somewhat sore subject with Bagwell — his hitless streak against a former Reds right-hander named Scott Sullivan.

Sullivan had a nice career with the Reds, pitching the better part of nine seasons in middle relief. Not a headline grabber but certainly a decent pitcher in his own right. But he has one claim to fame — Bagwell absolutely, positively, could not hit him.

When side-armer Sullivan would run in from the bullpen, “I used to tell Dirk,” Bagwell said, referring to former manager Larry Dierker, “‘You’re really going to send me up there again?’”

And again, and again. In fact, Sullivan faced Bagwell more times in his career than any other player, ever.

Bagwell had 31 official plate appearances versus Sullivan, including 24 at-bats. And zero hits. If you look up “Sullivan vs. batters” on the Baseball Reference page,  every hitter whom Sullivan ever faced is listed, and Bagwell is first, because his batting average against the former Reds righty is exactly .000. Bagwell has one RBI — via a sac fly — and has drawn six walks off Sullivan, three of which were intentional.

Bagwell’s success — or lack thereof — against Sullivan was so well-known back in the day that Berkman not only still remembers, but still uses it to get Bagwell’s goat.

“He just wanted to make me feel bad,” Bagwell said. “I said, ‘That’s about as low as you can go right there.’”

This was all in jest, of course. Bagwell, who is mindful of the good work Sean Berry did during his long tenure as the Astros’ hitting coach, is doing his best to deflect the attention from himself as the Astros try to salvage what they can during the second half of the season.

But Bagwell did acknowledge his “quick” start.

“I’m retiring,” he said. “I’m 1-0. I’m leaving. I’m going to play for the Heat.”

(Bagwell talks after his first game as hitting coach…click here)

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News and notes from Astros camp:

Felipe Paulino had a setback recently and it appears the tendinitis in his shoulder has flared up again. He’s flying back to Houston to have an MRI and will not make his scheduled start against the Cubs on Tuesday.

Also, righty Brian Moehler has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right groin, which he suffered during his last start before the All-Star break. Moehler’s DL stint will be backdated to July 8 and he will be eligible to return on July 23, when the team returns to Houston.

That will clear a roster spot for whomever the Astros decide to start in Paulino’s place on Tuesday.

Tough times for Astros as the losses pile up.

I probably don’t need to say this out loud, because you can probably figure this out on your own, but the Astros clubhouse was silent after Saturday’s loss in Cincinnati. The kind of silence that usually sparks the old cliche “You could hear a pin drop.” Almost two months into the season, the team continues to search for answers, and it’s doubly frustrating now, because not only is the offense continuing to sputter, but the pitching is failing them as well.

Tough times for the Astros, for sure. They used to dominate in Cincinnati, rarely losing here for the better part of a decade, whether they were playing at the old Riverfront Stadium (known in its later years as Cinergy Field) or at the newer Great American Ball Park. Now, they’re on a nine-game losing streak in Cincinnati, which only a couple of years ago would seem impossible, considering Roy Oswalt’s and Lance Berkman’s absolute dominance at this place and against this team.

The Astros are struggling, no doubt, and it didn’t help that they ran into a red-hot Reds team that seemingly can do no wrong. They’ve absolutely pummeled your Astros in the last two days, having outscored them 27-8.

Brian Moehler took full responsibility for the loss and didn’t tip toe around the obvious.

“My location was just terrible,” he said. “I left some balls over the plate and they didn’t miss them. I felt completely fine, but I just had poor location.”

So now it’s up to Felipe Paulino. Now would be the perfect time to get that first win of the season. A complete game would help, too. Just sayin’.

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Not a lot to laugh about these days, but I did get a kick out of this image before batting practice. Oswalt might just have found a new career once he’s gotten this pitching thing out of his system:

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Thursday roundup: injury updates, Bagwell recap, and photos.

Notes from a Thursday morning in Clearwater, where the Astros and Phillies met for the first time this spring:

* Manager Brad Mills said he expects Michael Bourn to be the first of the Astros’ injured players to return to action. We could see Bourn, who’s been out with an oblique strain, play as early as this weekend.

* Mills said Lance Berkman is “feeling good. He had a real good day (Wednesday).” Mills identified this weekend as being a crucial time for the Puma, “to see if the knee keeps not swelling as much. This weekend is going to tell us a lot.” Berkman has been sidelined for most of Spring Training after undergoing a knee procedure.

* Brett Myers said he “felt something” –a  pinch in the groin area — while covering first during his start against the Phillies on Thursday. He threw one warmup pitch and walked off the mound, figuring it made no sense to push himself and risk aggravating what he characterized as a minor injury.

“I didn’t want to take a chance,” Myers said, referring to the mild left groin strain that ended his outing with one out in the sixth. “We’ll just see how it is tomorrow. It wasn’t painful to where I said, “Oh…this is serious.”

Mills sounded optimistic after the game as well.

“He was able to at least move and go through the motion to the plate, which tells me it’s minimal,” he said.

* Bud Norris, whose schedule was jumbled when he missed a couple of days with a stomach virus, will likely make his next start in a Minor League game. Mills also said that Brian Moehler will start pitching in relief, even though he’ll continue to be stretched out as a starter.

It’s getting to that point of the spring where the rotation and bullpen are taking shape, and innings are getting scarce for the bubble guys. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that Felipe Paulino has the edge on Moehler for the fifth starter spot (if they indeed start the season with five starters and not four, which they could do with the early off days). That has yet to be announced, but I would believe that if Paulino has one more outing like the one he had in Bradenton the other day, he’s as good as in.

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After more than four months of “Astroline,” the weekly radio show as signed off for another season. The last show took place Wednesday night at the ESPN Club on the Disney Boardwalk, and as expected, Jeff Bagwell’s appearance caused chaos (the good kind) and a packed house.

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I had to laugh, because most of the calls that came in were more of the “I love you, man” variety and less about actually asking a question. Between the callers and Milo Hamilton heaping accolades and praise on the legendary first baseman, Bagwell barely noticed me mouthing “overrated” from the other side of the table.

I kid. Bags was his usual congenial self and graciously signed autographs for the long line of fans that formed long before he arrived. He also gave some pretty insightful answers to questions from both our Tweeps and the live audience at the ESPN Club.

On if he’s thought about being up for Hall of Fame election next year:

“The only reason I know it’s coming up is because I do read a few things here and there. I’ll stand by what I’ve always said. If I get into the Hall of Fame I’d be very, very privileged. It’s the greatest individual accomplishment you can receive in this game. But more important to me are the text messages and phone calls I get from ex-teammates. I hope I was a better teammate than I was a player. That means more to me than anything — the relationships I’ve had in baseball, the friends I’ve made mean more to me than the Hall of Fame. All that matters to me was what my teammates thought of me.

“My two children — their godparents are Dominican (Moises and Austria Alou). Where else does that happen? That’s what’s amazing about the game of baseball.”

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On if there are ever times where he misses playing:

“I miss it, but my last 3 1/2 years, it was more like a job than it was having so much fun. The good news we were winning so that was fun. But it was hard, going out there every night (with a bad shoulder) and thinking, ‘you’ve got to throw this thing?’ That took a little bit out of me.

“I’ll put it this way — I miss being good. I don’t miss being bad, I don’t miss being hurt. I had a lot of fun in ’94 (laughs). (The later years) took a little bit of fun out of the game.”

On if he’d get into full-time coaching:

“Not now. My two kids (ages 9 and 7), there’s no chance they would let me go for that long. Those coaches, they put in so much time. They get to the ballpark at 11 (a.m.) and leave at 11 at night. I would never see my children. At this point, it does not work.

“That said, as everyone has told me, when the kids are 13, 15 years old, they’re going to say, ‘Dad, you’re not that cool and I don’t want to hang out with you anymore.’ Then, we’ll see.”

On his most memorable moment in the big leagues:

“Probably my first big league game, in 1991 in Cincinnati. The Reds were coming off a World Series win and the place was literally shaking. The fans were going crazy. I was nervous. But it was a big day for me, because I finally knew I had actually made it to the big leagues.”

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We’re heading back to Houston in exactly a week, but first, there are some more Grapefruit League games to play. Sights from batting practice in Clearwater Thursday:

You’ve probably noticed there are quite a few former Phillies playing for the Astros these days, such as third baseman Pedro Feliz, who drew quite a bit of attention from the Philly media.

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Brett Myers caught up with ex-teammates before facing them a couple of hours later.

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Feliz and Hunter Pence sign autographs,.

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Jason Michaels, another phormer Phillie.

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Photo albums, videos, and you.

“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.

Enjoy!

Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino

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Roy Oswalt

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Oswalt practices fielding grounders back to the mound. That’s Jose Cruuuuz at first base. 

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Bud Norris, Brian Moehler throw bullpens.

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Felipe Paulino throws a bullpen (with the Astros braintrust watching from behind). 

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Catchers Humberto Quintero and Jason Castro.

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Backe active Friday, role undetermined.

Brandon Backe is officially an active player after being reinstated from the DL after Wednesday’s loss in Cincinnati. Backe, for now, will be available out of the bullpen. That’s not to say that he will spend the rest of the season as a reliever, but there appears to be no room for him in a weekend rotation that will consist of Brian Moehler [Friday], Wandy Rodriguez [Saturday] and Mike Hampton [Sunday].

As to whether Backe will be a middle reliever or long reliever, manager Cecil Cooper wouldn’t say.

“He’ll be activated on Friday,” Cooper said earlier Wednesday. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Backe was happy about that part, but he’s a bit perplexed as to why no one seems to know where he fits on this pitching staff. If he’s going to be a reliever, he can’t help but wonder why he spent the last month starting in the Minor Leagues.

“If that’s the case, in return, I’ve got to ask why I went off and made six starts,” he said. “I’m not here to question anybody’s authority. I’m here just to put a jersey on every day and give my best between the lines. Wherever it is, bullpen, starter, it doesn’t matter. My teammates know that more than anything.”

Backe vowed to concentrate on nothing but retiring hitters, in whatever role he’s assigned. If he does know what his job will be, he’s playing it close to the vest for now.

“I’m going to go out there regardless with the same mental focus on getting outs and helping our team win,” he said. “That’s the main objective of us as baseball players. It doesn’t matter where we are and when we get in. Roger Clemens proved it to us in the playoffs [in 2005] when he offered to come out of the bullpen and pitch three innings. He’s a savior. That turned
out pretty good for us.”

After confirming Backe’s pending activation, Cooper also made it clear Felipe Paulino’s outing against the Reds Wednesday was not an audition. Paulino will make at least one more start after this one.

“And I’m not saying he’s not going to get some after that,” Cooper said.

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Spent my time in the clubhouse before the game Wednesday afternoon trying to figure out exactly what the exchange was between Roy Oswalt and Cooper last night after the fifth inning. It appears the communication between Oswalt and the coaching staff went through pitching coach Dewey Robinson. Oswalt, hurting after fielding a Joey Votto ground ball with his pitching hand, threw a handful of pitching in the tunnel to make sure everything was OK.

Oswalt told Robinson he wanted to back out for the sixth, which he did. Obviously, it didn’t go well. Oswalt was numb in the bottom part of his index and middle fingers and could not get a feel for his pitches when he tried to get through his last inning.

Cooper said after the game that he did not know what was wrong with Oswalt. I do not believe that to be true. He knew, but for reasons not spoken publicly, he did not want to talk about it. And that’s where we are.

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Geoff Geary threw approximately 40 pitches off the mound Wednesday and felt no pain. “The ball’s coming out of my hand the way it should,” he said. It’s got life the way it’s supposed to have.”

Geary plans to throw to hitters, simulated-style, in Pittsburgh Friday, weather-permitting. He’d also like to make one rehab appearance after that.

“I’d like to throw against hitters in a game that doesn’t matter, just for mind over matter,” he said. “I could throw 90, 100 percent like I did today and then go into a game and all of a sudden have some weird feeling in my arm. I want to just clear everything up.” 

Break out the razor.

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Doug Brocail likes that mountain-man goatee look, so I was surprised to see him shiny and clean-shaven when I walked into the clubhouse Friday afternoon. It’s funny — remove the facial hair and throw some glasses on him, and he goes from the intimidating somewhat crazy [but loveable] reliever you don’t want to mess with [I call him Chet, from Weird Science] to
something more along the lines of an accountant.

Turns out, shaving was borne from superstition.

“I had too many walks in [the goatee],” he said.

Felipe Paulino was sent to the ‘pen today, but he received high marks from just about everyone who he needed to impress during his brief time in the rotation. Cecil Cooper and pitching coach Dewey Robinson told him he belongs at this level. And Assistant GM Dave Gottfried noted a new maturity in Paulino that helped the right-hander get through some pretty dicey game situations.

Apparently, Paulino is learning how to pitch, which is a heck of a lot different from simply rearing back and throwing.

It should be noted they said the same thing about Jose Capellan during Spring Training, but he’s been completely and utterly ineffective since the Triple-A season started. Here’s hoping Paulino truly has figured it out. He has way more upside than Capellan, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Odds and ends, news and notes:
* Brandon Backe will make his second rehab start on Saturday in Frisco. Don’t expect him to return to the Astros’ rotation anytime soon, however — he’s in for at least four rehab outings total, if not five. Backe can stay on the rehab circuit for no more than 30 days, so he’s got some time. And seeing he missed pretty much all of Spring Training, it’s not unreasonable
to assume he’ll need the whole month to get ready for real game action.

* I tried to toss Brian Moehler a cookie when I asked him if the high winds in Midland contributed to his first two innings for Double-A Corpus the other day, when he yielded eight runs in the first two innings. He didn’t bite, however.

“Well, I didn’t give up any home runs,” he said with a laugh.

After he started mixing in his changeup with two outs in the second, things got better. He retired 11 in a row, and that’s enough to convince me he’s ready to return.

* Astros owner Drayton McLane will be honored on Saturday during a ceremony at Michigan State University, his grad school alma mater. The school will dedicate their ballpark McLane Baseball Stadium, after McLane donated $4 million to go toward the new facility.

McLane and his wife, Elizabeth, and his son, Drayton III and his wife, Amy, and their two children will attend the ceremony.

*To the fan I met at the airport yesterday: Matsui gets his sushi fix at Kubo’s on University Blvd. in West U.

Alyson Footer is on Facebook and Twitter 

Paulino proves me wrong. Astros on the mend.

I’ll be honest — I wasn’t expecting much from Felipe Paulino on Sunday. He was wholly unimpressive while auditioning for the fifth starter job during Spring Training, and while his first two starts for Round Rock were terrific, success at Triple-A doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the big leagues.

Paulino opened the game by allowing a base hit to Willy Taveras, and he hit the next batter, Chris Dickerson. But from there, Paulino was clearly in control. I have no idea what they’ll do with him once Brian Moehler is ready to come off the disabled list, but clearly, Paulino earned the chance to make another start. Moehler is probably going to make a few Minor League starts before rejoining the rotation, so that will give Paulino more opportunities to prove Sunday’s outing wasn’t a one-hit wonder.

With Brandon Backe on the mend and Paulino knocking on the door, it appears the Astros might actually have a little pitching depth. I’m still not convinced Backe can be an effective full-season starting pitcher, but he’s piqued my interest. We’ll see.

Kaz Matsui should be ready to return to his position Monday and look for Jeff Keppinger to play during the Dodgers series. The Astros are facing three lefties — including former Astro Randy Wolf — and the Astros are going to need Keppinger’s bat, and his stellar average against lefties, in that series.

Alyson Footer is on Facebook and Twitter

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