Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’

Why let rain get in the way of a good time?

Rain-soaked cancellations of Spring Training games usually signal the end of the baseball day for the average fan, but for most ballplayers, there is still work to be done.

Half the Astros squad boarded the buses Thursday morning for Viera, where three hours later the game would ultimately be cancelled due to torrential downpours. Back at the home complex, however, the other half of the team did its best to get its work in, including several pitchers who were scheduled to throw bullpen sessions.

I looked out of the window of the Astros offices around 10 a.m. expecting to see nothing but empty fields, but instead, here’s what I found:

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That’s pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and reliever Chris Sampson, seemingly ignoring the fact that it was raining hard enough that everyone else exited the fields and ran for cover.

Rain might not seem like that big of a deal during Spring Training, and that’s partly true. Once the fields are soaked to the point of flooding and the conditions become dangerous, there is absolutely no reason — other than financial ones — why teams should try to get the games in long after the fields are deemed unplayable.

That doesn’t mean the players just get to go home, however. For all pitchers, staying on schedule is essential. Roy Oswalt, the scheduled starter for the doomed game in Viera, instead returned home on the team bus and threw to Minor Leaguers on one of the backfields. He threw 60 pitches over the equivalant of three innings.

“That was the best we could do today,” Oswalt said. “The last inning was good. The first two, so-so. The last inning, I figured out what I was doing.”

Jeff Fulchino and Tim Byrdak each threw an inning as well. The rest of the work had to be done in the cages after the rain started again.

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Did you know there was a baseball game involving Craig Biggio played at Minute Maid Park on Thursday?

Biggio’s St. Thomas High School baseball team, for whom he’s the head coach, played Galveston O’Connell.

Many thanks to Astros authentication manager Mike Acosta, who sent along these images. Mike surmised this was probably the first time since Biggio’s retirement that he was back on the field at Minute Maid Park, in uniform, for a baseball game.

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Best seats in the house.

Spring Training is a great time to hang out at the ballpark and catch some rays, but the best part has to be the vantage point the fans have to the players.

Spring ballparks are tiny, seating somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 10,000 fans. During the regular season, thousands are relegated to the upper decks — nosebleeds, if you will — but during Spring Training, there is not a single bad seat in the house.

My favorite area is located right behind the bullpen. Not only do fans have the opportunity to engage in conversation with the relievers, but they can watch the starting pitcher warm up less from than 10 feet away.

As I watched Wandy Rodriguez warm up today, I was struck by how close he was to the fans seated just behind the ‘pen. That’s a perspective you can’t get at any other time other than Spring Training, and for the fans, that’s a real treat.

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The ESPN Club on Disney’s Boardwalk was hopping Wednesday, and for good reason. Lance Berkman draws a crowd no matter where he goes, and that was definitely the case this time as the fans enjoyed an hour of Puma perspective. We even picked up some fabulous Puma One Liners…even when Lance isn’t trying to be funny, he just is.

He answered a full slate of questions, some of which I’ll post now (in case you missed it):

On his conversations with opponents while manning first base:

Albert Pujols and I talk a little bit over there. Mainly, he’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you hitting?’ Albert’s a great guy, that’s how he is.”

On if he’d ever adopt the Hunter Pence high-sock look:

“I’ve done that before, to just mix it up a little bit. Especially if you don’t hit the ball well with the low pants, you go with the high pants. But it takes a lot of effort to wear high pants. You have to have an extra pair of socks. It’s a high maintenance look and I’m pretty low maintenance.”

On Brad Mills:
“Brad’s done a great job, especially for a guy who’s a first year manager. He’s really been impressive. I think all the guys like him and respect him. He brings a winning pedigree to the clubhouse. You can’t find anyone who says anything bad about him. It’s a great hire for the organization. Even if we run into a little adversity this year, I don’t think he’s going to be any different. I have a lot of respect for him and have enjoyed being around him in this camp.”

On young players to look out for:
“You kind of know the guys we have who are knocking on the door. Bud Norris, he’s got to continue in his development as a Major League starter for us to be successful this year. Our two young catchers (Jason Castro, J.R. Towles), I’m impressed with both of them. Chris Johnson, the young third baseman — he’s been put on back burner because we signed Pedro Feliz, but he’s got a lot of ability. He’s a great defender and has been swinging the bat well.”

On Feliz:
“He’s a great guy in the clubhouse, a great defender. He plays third base about as well as anyone in the game. It frees up (Geoff) Blum to move around and play where he needs to play and come off the bench.”

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Not a great outcome score-wise on Wednesday, but it was a bright, sunny, warm day, which makes for great photo opps. Enjoy the sights…

Wandy has one final conversation with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg before taking the mound.

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Mills chats with a couple of players while walking off the field after the game.

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Quintero, Paulino and Norris have a laugh before morning stretching.

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Pence takes some hacks in the cage.

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Pence and Puma.

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Astros, Mills pass the first test. Game one in the books.

As nice as Spring Training wins are for the fans, you’re not going to draw a ton of emotion from those in uniform, regardless of the outcome. The spring season is long and there’s a ton of work to do to get ready for Opening Day, and one win won’t make or break a season.

Still, winning is always nice, regardless of whether the games count in the real standings. The Astros pummeled the Nationals on Thursday by a score of 15-5, and manager Brad Mills drew both positives and negatives from the landslide win in Kissimmee.

The offense was fantastic, but the defense struggled. Hunter Pence wowed the crowd with two home runs, a feat that did not go unnoticed by the new skipper.

“Can I put in my order for two homers every day? Is that OK?” Mills said. “He’s been working every day early, before BP, and late. That’s how he does things. It’s not a surprise that he was ready right out of the chute.”

Watch Mills break down the Astros’ win here. And, as always, enjoy the images from gameday at Osceola County Stadium…

Pregame dugout scene: Michael Bourn, Jason Michaels 

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First base coach Bobby Meacham and Geoff Blum.

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 Jeff Bagwell signs an autograph for a young fan before the game.

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Jose Cruz and Kazuo Matsui chat before the game.

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Hunter Pence, during the anthem.

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A win is a win is a win…

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Spring Training locker assignments: who sits where?

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The Astros’ Spring Training locker room is basically sectioned off into two sides — one for the pitchers, and one for the position players. For the most part, they’re placed numerically, with a couple of exceptions.

For as long as I can remember, Roy Oswalt has always had the first locker when you walk into the clubhouse from the main hallway. I never understood why he wanted to a) be that close to people walking in and out and b) make himself that geographically accessible to the media, but I figured he had his reasons.

It dawned on me this morning that his area has a little more leg room than the rest, and considering this is how he passes the time in the early morning hours before workouts start, it makes perfect sense:

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On the other side of the clubhouse, position players are also lined up numerically, for the most part. One exception is this row, which has always been saved for what I like to call the “high rent district.” This year, it’s Berkman, Lee and Feliz. In the past, that row has been occupied by the likes of Bagwell, Biggio, Kent, Ausmus…you get the drift.

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Hunter Pence’s locker, and Hunter Pence.

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Bud Norris‘ locker is right next to Oswalt’s, which should make for some interesting dialogue as the spring wears on. Oswalt is a man of few words, and Norris…well, let’s say he’s a very conversational young chap.

That’s not to say Oswalt doesn’t have his chatty moments. He’s come a long way since his rookie year in 2001, a time that I refer to as his “deer in the headlights” phase. Players are usually unpolished when they get to the big leagues, and Roy was no exception. Who can forget the night he set the club rookie win record? With about eight cameras in his face, Roy was asked how it felt to pass Jim Deshaies for the rookie record. Oswalt: “Who’s Jim Deshaies?” J.D., who was standing nearby: “Guess I should probably introduce myself.”

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Other camp observations:

General manager Ed Wade is looking forward to watching Tommy Manzella man the shortstop position this year. Because Wade has been with the Astros only about two years, he’s had to rely on his staff to give their insight as to Manzella’s development.

“Our guys say he’s a tick above average in range, a tick above average in hands, and has an average arm,” Wade said. But the real selling point was this: “They said, if you had to get one more out in the ninth inning, you want the ball hit to Tommy Manzella,” Wade said. “I was told he’s been ready for about two years to play defensively in the big leagues. He definitely gives us solid range and a good arm. We’re going to miss Miggy (Miguel Tejada), but our range has improved with Tommy.”

Someone asked me what young player I’m most intrigued by this spring, and while Jason Castro is still first on my list, Manzella is a close second. I really wish Manzella had been given more playing time after he was called up last September, but I have to assume we’ll be watching him regularly when the Grapefruit League season starts next week.

One thing I like about spring games is watching the young guys play. They’re fast and have something to prove, so they really pour their energies into the games, whereas the veterans take is slower, knowing Spring Training is a time to get back in the swing of things without having to worry about winning or losing a job.

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I always consider the final day before position players arrive to Spring Training as the calm before the storm. Although plenty of position guys — about half of the squad — have already shown up and are working out regularly, they don’t hit the fields with the rest of the team until the first official workout, scheduled for Wednesday.

I anticipate a pretty busy morning, which will include (not necessarily in this order): a team-only meeting with manager Brad Mills, who will address his new club for the first time; a more expansive team meeting, which include a few words from owner Drayton McLane; and a media crush at the locker of one Lance Berkman, who apparently was due to arrive in Kissimmee at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. (Not sure why this mattered but it was reported as such by the Twitteratzi).

***UPDATE:*** Puma sighting at 5:30…right on time. Spring has officially sprung.

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And finally, good luck and congrats to Aaron Boooooooone, who is officially retired and has joined ESPN’s Baseball Tonight crew.

 

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Ballplayers acting out (literally).

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Funny skits and “getting to know you” bits that are played on the scoreboards in between innings have become such a part of today’s Major League Baseball experience that it’s easy to take them for granted.

The process to put it all together, however, is no easy task. It takes incredible organization on the part of the ballpark entertainment crew, considering it has dozens of players and staff to involve in the process and has to get a season’s-worth of content filmed over a span of less than two weeks.

The Astros’ Ballpark Entertainment department is currently in the process of filming several features for the 2010 season: “Fact or Fiction,” “A Closer Look,” “Think Tank,” “Little League Memories” and “Guess the Flick.” Between now and the first couple of days of March, the staff will have recorded spots with every player who is either guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster or has a chance to make the club this year.

“Fact or Fiction” involves the player making a statement, and then the crowd has to decide if it’s true or not.

“A Closer Look” focuses on things we might not already know about the player — what was his first job? What sport was he good at growing up besides baseball? What movie star do people think he looks like? The final product will include funny motion graphics to illustrate the answers.

“Think Tank” pairs up teammates, who engage in a Q&A word association.

“Guess the Flick” involves playing a scene from a well-known movie, and inserting the player into the scene.

Brian Moehler, Bud Norris and Jeff Fulchino filmed their segments on Monday, and we snuck into the room to get some raw video footage of our own, to share with you. Moehler was hilarious — he acted out a scene from “Dumb and Dumber” and even though I’ve known him for quite a few years, this is the first time I’ve ever heard him get loud. Check out the video to see for yourself.

Moehler also reveals which celebrity people think he looks like, who his most annoying teammate is (I don’t want to name names, but it rhymes with Plum) and that he went to high school with Molly Ringwald (or did he? That’s for you to decide when you play “Fact or Fiction.”)

The Astros ballpark crew — Kirby Kander, Senior Director of Creative Services, Brock Jessel, Director of Ballpark Entertainment, and Joey Graham, Production Coordinator, recently received two Golden Matrix Awards for the 2009 season, including the Best Overall Video Display Award (Best Show in Baseball). This is the fifth consecutive season they’ve won the award, something no other professional sports team has done. Kander, Jessel and Graham also won the Best Interactive In-game Feature for their Guess the Flick segments.

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Here are some images from Monday’s shoot, plus a few from the second full day of pitchers and catchers workouts at Osceola County Stadium:

Moehler, talking about Brett Favre and Molly Ringwald.

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Norris and Fulchino, being prepped on their video segment.

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Fulchino, Mills, Oswalt, Lindstrom.

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Byrdak, Wandy throw side sessions.

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Catchers lined up, catching the side sessions.

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Oswalt throws side session, with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg watching closely.

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Lots of position players showed up to work out, even though they don’t have to official report until Wednesday. Here we have Michael Bourn…

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Hunter Pence…

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Tommy Manzella.

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Astros Go Red, and some other tidbits to chew on over the weekend.

Thanks to all who showed up for the “Go Red” photo shoot Friday morning at Minute Maid Park. Hosted by the Astros and the American Heart Association, the event commemorated the “Go Red for Women” campaign, bringing awareness to about heart disease as the No. 1 health threat to women.

It was a fun hour, for a good cause, and we had a nice turnout. The group wore red, of course, and posed in the outfield seats. Enjoy the visuals:

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Even the little ones got into the “Go Red” spirit:

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While waiting for the photo shoot to begin, I noticed a bit of activity on the field. Here we have Hunter Pence running wind sprints in the outfield:

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Kind of looks like Rocky Balboa here… 

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Other news and notes:

Houston College Classic
For the 10th consecutive year, Minute Maid Park will host the Houston College Classic March 5-7. This year’s field includes three teams ranked nationally in Baseball America’s preseason poll including No. 1 Texas, No. 5 Rice and No. 11 TCU. Rounding out the field is the University of Houston, Texas Tech and Missouri.

Tickets currently are available and can be purchased at astros.com, at the Minute Maid Park Box Office, or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-877-9ASTROS.

Astroline
Guests for the next two weeks of Astroline shows are confirmed — Chris Sampson next Wednesday (Feb. 10) and Jimmy Wynn the following week (Feb. 17). The guest for Feb. 24 is still pending. Astroline will then move to Florida for the remainder of Spring Training.

The Houston show is broadcast live from Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub at 1952 West Gray St. and is open to the public. I’ll be tweeting live from Astroline for the next two weeks, so when you get a free moment, please send your questions to my twitter account.

Puma, Hooton entering the Hall

Lance Berkman and Burt Hooton will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Monday in Waco.

I’ll be there, tweeting live and blogging when it’s over, so be sure to check early and often for up-to-the-minute play-by-play action. Puma loves it when I follow him around with a camera so this should be a ton of fun.

Astros Fanfest

Fanfest will again be held in conjunction with the exhibition games before Opening Day, April 2 and 3. A full schedule of activities will be released at a later date.

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Let the Castro watch begin.

Jason Castro reported to his first big league Spring Training camp last year relatively unnoticed, all things considered.

The club’s No. 1 Draft pick in ’08, Castro received the big league invite in ’09 not because he had a remote chance to make the club (he didn’t), but because the team told him if he handled his first professional season as well as expected, he would be welcomed to big league camp the following spring. Castro held up his end of the bargain, so the Astros held up theirs.

The stakes are different — higher, even — this year as Castro prepares for his second Major League Spring Training. Castro’s chances to make the club when camp breaks vary, depending on who you talk to. The cautious approach, which obviously protects the player, is to say simply that Castro will have a very real chance to make the club, but it’s more likely he’ll start the season at Triple-A and then work his way onto the big league roster at some point in 2010.

That’s all well and good and I do take that at face value, to a point. But we also see that the projected catchers this season are Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles, and while they have value and merits in their own right, these are the same two catchers the Astros had last year when they scoured the free agent market for a stop-gap and landed on Pudge Rodriguez.

So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to speculate that the Astros might outwardly feel that Castro will ease his way into the starting job eventually, but inwardly have every finger and toe crossed that Castro might just hit well, handle the pitching staff with ease and give the Astros no choice but to start him behind the plate on Opening Day.

It’ll be an interesting storyline come Feb. 20, when pitchers and catchers step onto those backfields at Osceola County Stadium for the first time (side note — morning workouts are open to the public and free. Gates will open about five minutes after the players hit the fields for stretching, which Brad Mills says will begin at 9:30 a.m.) I’ve been calling Castro the “future Astro,” but you have to wonder if that future just might arrive sooner than later (like, say, April 5 vs. the Giants).

Castro’s clearly ready for that line of questioning. He wore a hint of a grin when asked about it before the luncheon hosted by the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, and it’s nice to see him take the speculation in stride.

“It’s definitely something I’ve thought about, obviously,” he said. “I’m very excited about it. But when I do get there and the time comes, it’s about producing on the field. I’ll get my work in, prepare myself to do that and hopefully I’ll be ready. That’s the main thing I’ll have my mind on — just playing.”

In the meantime, it was nice catching up with Castro on the very last day of the nine-day, 15-city, umpteen-mile caravan jaunt that has now drawn to a close. The traveling party — Larry Dierker, Milo Hamilton, Castro and Hunter Pence – visited southeastern Texas, where they visited Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, greeted fans associated with the Double-A Hooks and mingled with kids from the Boys & Girls Club in Victoria. 

Enjoy the images, including a few from Wednesday’s trip to the Center for the Intrepid at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

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Driscoll Children’s Hospital

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Castro chats with Milo Hamilton during the Corpus Christi luncheon presentation.

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Castro, Pence sign autographs in Corpus.

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Pence took the young fans a bit off guard with his constant barrage of questions: “Did you have a good day at school today? Did you learn anything? How was recess?” This whole visit was a surprise for the kids at the Boys & Girls Club, so needless to say, most answers were in the form of wide-eyed, gaping nods.  

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Most of the kids loosened up by the end of the visit, however.

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One day earlier, another caravan traveling party wrapped up its three-day jaunt through Central Texas with a visit with soldiers at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio. Most of the patients there have lost limbs — mostly legs. Our guys didn’t know what to expect when they entered the facility, but it took no time at all before the conversations flowed freely. It was one of the few stops we made that when it was time to leave, no one wanted to.

Below: Matt Lindstrom 

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Bud Norris

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Lindstrom

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Group shot with Bagwell

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I love this one…Bagwell was asking so many questions that finally the young man just took off the prosthetic leg and handed it to him.

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One last group shot before we left.

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A fun November day at the ballpark, and more comedic stylings from the Puma.

When Lance Berkman told his wife why he was going to Minute Maid Park Saturday afternoon, Cara Berkman summoned her three oldest kids (above) and said, “We’re going too.”

Berkman (aka Puma) was one of four Astros representatives to participate in an event designed to help 20 families who are transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency.”Take A Minute” marked the beginning of national Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. Families were treated to a Thanksgiving meal, a tour of Minute Maid Park and an autograph session Berkman, Jeff Bagwell, Hunter Pence and manager Brad Mills.

Cara Berkman didn’t hesitate when she heard what the event was about.

“I said to Lance, ‘Homeless children? We’re going,’ Cara said. “I want my kids to see this and be involved. They need to understand there are people that have hard lives and need our help.”

Brian McTaggart gives a full report of the event here.

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Covering offseason activities is fun, mainly because players in general are well-rested and relaxed, and any fatigue and/or bitterness from a down year has pretty much subsided.

I chuckled a bit as I headed to the event, knowing it would take about two minutes for Puma and I to pick up where we left off — I snap pictures, he acts like he’s annoyed and then he spends the next several minutes lamenting the presence of Facebook and Twitter — “two things contributing to the downfall of society,” Berkman grumbles. (He was especially thrilled when I told him about Twit pic).

Bagwell isn’t quite so dramatic, but we did have a good laugh about the fake accounts floating around. To review, the Berkman Twitter account is bogus, and if you’re ever wondering if that is really Bagwell’s Facebook page, the answer is a resounding no. He’s made progress over the years when it comes to logging on but I can assure you he does not now, and never will, be a Facebooker.

Enjoy the pictures.

My attempts to take pictures of the four Astros at the autograph table were intercepted by one Puma, who just cannot help himself.

 

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Another block, this time, with a sweatshirt.

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So I switched my positioning and was a bit more successful. Here’s Pence, displaying his own brand of goofiness:

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Bagwell tapes a PSA for “Take A Minute.”

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Berkman and Pence, catching up after five weeks of no baseball.

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The new guy always gets the most attention. Brad Mills spent as much time granting media interviews as he did signing autographs.

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Autograph session

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Group photo

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And finally, a visit from Junction Jack.

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Try ‘em Before you Buy ‘em

Speaking of offseason fun at Minute Maid Park…

The Astros Ticket Services Department will host a Select-A-Seat event for fans interested in season tickets on Saturday, December 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you are interested in 2010 full season ticekts or 27-game mini-plans, come out to the ballpark for a one-on-one guided tour to find the perfect set of seats. Ticket sales representatives will offer valuable information on each available seat location to ensure you invest in the perfect plan.

Also, new for 2010 is the “Buy Two, Get Two Free” season ticket offer. As part of this package, fans purchasing two season tickets in the View Deck I and View Deck II seating levels or in select Terrace Deck sections will receive two additional season tickets in the same price level for free. These full season packages start at only $415 per season seat — only $5 per game.

The Astros are also offering special “Early Bird” incentives for those who buy their season tickets by Dec. 18. The incentives include a choice of taking batting practice, playing catch in the outfield or a taking clubhouse tour at Minute Maid Park. (At first glance, I’d go with the clubhouse tour. It’s pretty cool, although I would imagine for those of you whose baseball careers petered out in the seventh grade, batting practice might be fun).

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How John Rocker helps me find my way to Flushing.

Back in the old days (10 years ago), I never could remember which train to take to get to Shea Stadium. It’s one of those things where you think you’ve got it memorized, but then in the year that passes between trips, inevitably, it fails to stick in the memory.

Then the 2000 offseason arrived. Braves pitcher John Rocker went on his now famous tirade to Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman about everything he didn’t like about New York. He was mean, bigoted, fierce…and, turns out, strangely helpful.

Obviously, I’m not condoning Rocker’s behavior, which I found offensive and deplorable, and embarrassing. But he started that famous line of hatred with “Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark…”

And from then on, I never forgot which train to take to Shea. All thanks to Rocker, who was rightfully booed out of just about every ballpark he appeared in after his tirade and thankfully has been out of baseball for years.

But he did leave one lasting impression, inadvertently so.

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Trying to not lose my cell phone and coat while pulling my computer bag behind me was challenging enough, but at the same time, I also attempted to snap a couple of shots of the outside of Citi Field, the brand new home of the New York Mets. You can see MLB.com writer Brian McTaggart and radio announcer Brett Dolan in the shot, and you’ll notice they’re not waiting for me to catch up to them.

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Inside, the ballpark is pretty impressive, and not just because anything would be a gigantic upgrade from the eyesore that was the old Shea Stadium. Citi Field has all the charm of a new ballpark — nice field and scoreboard, plush accommodations in the clubhouse and club levels — and overall, I give it a thumbs up, although I’ll spare you my whining about the ridiculous guessing game I had to play trying to get to the press box.

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More random shots:

Dave Clark, who hopes to have a shot at the permanent manager’s job once the season ends, chats with pitching coach Dewey Robinson.

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Chris Johnson says hello to Steve Sparks, who is filling in for Jim Deshaies in the TV booth this weekend.

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I have no idea what Aaron Boooooone was doing in this shot but it always cracks me up that he cannot resist giving some kind of strange pose when there’s a camera around.

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Hunter Pence grants a pregame interview to FS Houston’s Greg Lucas.

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Roy Oswalt is one of the most bored men on earth right now. It’s one thing to be a starting pitcher with nothing to do for the four days in between starts. It’s quite another to be shut down for the year because of a bad back and having NOTHING to look forward to, other the pending opening of his new steakhouse this fall.

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You’ve heard us talk/write plenty about Assistant GM Bobby Heck, who was brought on staff a couple of years ago to take over the Astros’ scouting department. Now you know what he looks like. That’s him on the right, talking to TV announcer Bill Brown.
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From the Twitter files:
Why is Blum still starting over Chris Johnson? I can see Tejada over Manzella, he has a shot at 200 hits. But Blum? Really?

I’ll be honest — I have no idea. These days, when I post the lineup on Twitter, I cringe, because I know I’m about to be hit with a stream of responses wondering why the kids aren’t playing.

I understand that Dave Clark wants to give Tejada every chance to reach 200 hits on the year, and I grudgingly agree.

I’m not suggesting Clark bench the veterans indefinitely. But in a three-game series, I see nothing wrong with simply mixing in Tommy Manzella or Chris Johnson or Edwin Maysonet for just a game here and there.

The current regular Astros lineup has contributed to a likely fifth-place finish. I seriously doubt one or two kids are going to mess up that chemistry.

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Does Hunter Pence like his eggs poached or scrambled? Tune in to find out answers to this, and other Astros mysteries.

0831_pence.jpgHunter Pence must have been paying attention when his mother taught him that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. He loves that big meal first thing in the morning, and one of his regular routines on the road is to find a really good breakfast spot and delve into the local fare.

Pence will be featured in the latest episode of the Astros’ new reality-based show titled “Here’s The Pitch!” on FS Houston. The crew documented one of his recent trips to breakfast eatery Le Peep in Houston, where he dined with the extended Pence clan — his older brother, Howie, his sister-in-law Allison, his niece Hayley and his nephew, Striker.

Also on the docket for “Here’s the Pitch!” Show #2, which will run Thursday at 12:30 p.m. CT and will re-air Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT:

Young Astros fans ask questions of their favorite players: Favorite baseball memory, how to hit a home run and what kind of cereal they like (I’m sensing a trend here). One segment will be devoted to rookie Bud Norris and strength and conditioning coach Gene Coleman during a workout, where they’ll explain what it takes for a big leaguer to stay in shape.

The show will also highlight Lance Berkman’s recent visit with Berkman’s Buddies, whom the Puma hosts at Minute Maid Park every Saturday home game.

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I’m working on another pictorial blog documenting the Chicago leg of this three-city trip. In the meantime, here are some friendly reminders regarding what’s on tap when the Astros return from the trip this Friday…

Send in those recipes

The Astros are still accepting recipe ideas that they could add to the Minute Maid Park menu in 2010. If you have a recipe that would do well in a ballpark setting, send your idea to promotions@astros.com. Entries will be accepted through Sept. 5.

The winner will see his or her recipe sold at the ballpark next year and will win luxury suite tickets. The second and third place winners will win autographed Astros items.

Once we have all of the entries, a panel will select three fans that will be involved in a cook off on Sept. 12. I have happily volunteered my taste buds to the cause and will serve as one of the judges….

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300 home run giveaway

On Friday (Sept. 4), the Astros will celebrate the their three players who reached 300 home runs this season with a pregame ceremony and gift presentation. The first 20,000 fans will receive a 300 Home Run Art Card, courtesy of Minute Maid. Additionally, tickets in View Deck II will be sold for just $3 that day.

On Saturday (Sept. 5), the celebration continues as the first 10,000 fans will receive a 300 Home Run T-Shirt, courtesy of AT&T…

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Dog Days of Summer

On Monday (Sept. 7), the Astros are hosting Dog Day, presented by H-E-B. For $20 ($10 of which will go to the Houston Humane Society), you and your dog can enjoy the Astros-Phillies game from the Barking Room only section along Conoco Alley and the H-E-B Dog Zone, featuring Hill Country Fare Dog Food, located in KBR Plaza.

An additional $20 “human ticket” can be purchased with the above package. The deadline to register for tickets is Thursday.

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College Night is Sept. 10…read details here.

Heroes Night is Sept. 11 and will honor all of those who serve in our local police forces, fire departments, and EMS teams along with those that protect our Nation as part of the United States Armed Forces. Details here.

 

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