Results tagged ‘ Oswalt ’

Oswalt returns.

Roy Oswalt finished up his 97-pitch outing against the Phillies on Friday and said, “I feel like I started the season backward.”

That’s understandable, considering less than a week ago he was pitching in a playoff atmosphere and now, he’s back in the laid-back atmosphere that is the Grapefruit League.

Don’t fret about Oswalt giving up three runs to the Phillies; his goal was to come close to 100 pitches, which he achieved. He also felt better as the outing continued.

“I felt strong early — too strong, actually,” he said. “I couldn’t get the ball down, I kept throwing up in the zone.  I felt better late in the game, in the fourth and fifth and six innings. I started getting  a little edge knocked off.”

After pitching in the World Baseball Classic, Oswalt struggled to switch gears so quickly.

“It was a little different atmosphere out there,” he said. “You go from having to win every time out to trying to work on some stuff to get ready for the season.”

Oswalt threw two bullpen sessions between his last start for Team USA and his start Friday. He’ll have one more outing before Opening Day, and I’m pretty confident he’ll be ready to go on Opening Day April 6.

Wow, what a finish. Roy is fired up.

How about that ending to last night’s U.S.A.- Puerto Rico matchup? I spoke with Roy Oswalt briefly after the game, and I’ve not heard that kind of excitement in his voice in a long, long time. It reminded me of how much he burns to win, how much it drives him, and the same can be said about most of the Major League players you watch day in and day out. Hearing Oswalt talk about how much fun he was having reminded me how much fun he had back in 2004 and 2005 when the Astros pushed their way through the postseason, and how much fun everyone had back then.

Winning is the only thing that matters in this game, and watching the highlights of last night’s game was a tremendous reminder of why players play and why fans watch. You can say the World Baseball Classic in only an exhibition, but after watching the U.S.A. team’s wild celebration after that finish, I think most of us agree this tournament very much matters.

So the question at batting practice yesterday was, who do the Astros want back in Spring Training more? Oswalt or Pudge Rodriguez? The overwhelming sentiment was Rodriguez, considering he has a brand new pitching staff to get to know. I would expect the process to move quickly from here and it wouldn’t surprise me if Pudge was in uniform no later than Friday.

Talked with Steve Phillips — the Mark Mulder thing was a simple mistake in his column about Pudge in He meant Brian Moehler. Mulder is not an Astro.

Roy marches on, Carlos heading to Fla. Fanfest, and frozen yogurt.

Random news, notes and thoughts:

One of the many traits I inherited from my dad is a penchant for yelling at the T.V. during tense sports moments. I can vividly remember him lying on the couch yelling at the television — and the Reds — during tough times in the 1970s and ’80s. Later, when I was in college, I found myself doing the same thing while watching my Cincinnati Bearcats play basketball.

And again last night, watching Team USA play Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Watching Roy Oswalt’s pitch count rise as he labored through the fourth inning was kind of like watching John Franco try to nail down a save for the Reds in the second half of 1989. You want desperately to jump on the field and yell “stop the madness,” but you can’t, of course, because you’re at home, watching on T.V., and no one is interested in your opinion.

I had no problem with Roy hitting the 70-pitch limit if he was cruising. But by the time he hit his 65th pitch, he was clearly gassed, and in my estimation, Team USA manager Davey Johnson was a tad tardy on yanking him.

I talked to Oswalt about that today and he just laughed at me, which did ease my mind a little bit. He insisted he had a direct open line of communication with the coaching staff and that he had told Johnson and pitching coach Marcel Lachemann he wanted to get to at least 60 pitches in this outing, if not a little more.

The good thing is that Oswalt has six days off before his next appearance. He’ll throw two bullpens this week and will be back on the mound Saturday in Miami for round two of the Classic. He says his body was tired after the outing, but his arm is fine. Whew.


Carlos Lee contacted Cecil Cooper today and told him he was headed back to Spring Training camp and wanted to get into the game on Tuesday. Lee’s Team Panama was bounced from World Baseball Classic competition after just two games, and apparently, the burly left fielder is ready to return to his day job.

“He’ll be in the lineup tomorrow,” Cooper said after Monday’s game in Viera.


Cooper, on Jose Capallan, who pitched three scoreless innings: “He’s pitching himself right into the picture. He’s done exactly what we asked him to do: throw strikes, change speeds, pitch down in the zone. He’ll keep getting stretched out.”


On Felipe Paulino, who allowed six runs over two innings: “Not very good. He seems to have no feel for pitching. A couple of breaking balls were good, but it did’nt look like he had a good feel. His command was not very good.” 


A reminder: Astros FanFest this year will be held in conjunction with the exhibition game played against the Indians at Minute Maid Park, following the Florida portion of Spring Training. The date is April 4. When I receive more details regarding activities and autograph schedules, I will be sure to pass that along. But you can count on pretty much the entire team — plus several alumni — participating.

I had mistakenly thought FanFest was a two-day event, but it’s only one…please make note in your calendars, and sorry about the confusion.

From the Inbox:

Why isn’t Lance Berkman getting more playing time? It’s obvious he needs to work on his swing, and two innings every few days just doesn’t seem to cut it. I can’t understand Cooper’s thinking. My prediction: they will finish in last place! —

Elizabeth W., Dallas

When Cooper mapped out the travel schedule for his veteran players for the spring, he had Berkman marked down for no more than three road games all month. That’s why you haven’t seen much of him. Berkman is working out daily at the home complex and is of course playing in most home games, but is it enough? I realize Cooper wants to go easy on his veterans, but at the same time, the hitters have work to do in terms of getting their timing down at the plate. The only way they can do this is to face live pitching regularly, and it bugs me that Berkman is missing all of these road games. And there really isn’t any excuse for him not going to the Braves complex for a game or two, considering it’s less than 30 minutes from the Astros’ complex.

I have to disagree with you that they’ll finish in last place. I don’t know how good they’ll be, but they won’t finish lower than the Pirates. That I can promise you.

Who wants low-fat frozen yogurt after the seventh inning stretch? I do…and I’d bet I’m not alone. Who can I contact to request/encourage this addition to the ballpark menu? — Tracy B., Houston

A cool refreshing snack without the high-calorie guilt? Count me in! I liked your idea so much I forwarded it to the Astros customer service. And let this serve as a reminder to everyone out there — you send your questions, concerns, compliments and complaints to I can assure you they read each and every one of them and respond to the best of their ability.

Oswalt in typical form…Astros on TV.

Roy Oswalt enjoyed facing his slugging teammates as the batting practice pitcher on Saturday during a session that included a few broken bats, a few laughs and a bunch of good-natured trash talking.

You can imagine the lively scene as Oswalt threw to Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee, but at the same time, Oswalt was careful about where his pitches were going, so as to not hurt his own teammates.

“It’s just all in fun,” Oswalt said. “I’m not going to throw in on the guys. Just in case I hit one of the guys I don’t want to knock him out for the season as far as breaking something.

In terms of trash-talking, Oswalt was clearly enjoying the fact that his hitting teammates hadn’t seen live pitching since last September. Advantage, Oswalt.

“I had the upper hand,” he said. “I ran up a few balls here and there, just to keep them honest. I don’t want them to be leaning out over there, but not too far in. But I’m not throwing on the inside part of the plate.”

Random news and notes:
Good news — a ton of Astros spring games will be on television this year. ESPN will broadcast the Astros-Braves game at Disney next Thursday (Feb. 26) at 12:05 p.m. CT., and FS Houston will broadcast four games: March 20 vs. Cincinnati, March 23 vs. Florida, March 24 vs. the Mets and March 25 at St. Louis. Also, when the Astros return home, the April 4 exhibition game with the Indians will also be on FS Houston.

The Yankees games usually sell out, and this year is no exception. The game between these two teams at Osceola County Stadium on March 18 is standing room only.

I’ve had a lot of questions about FanFest…it will take place the weekend of the exhibition games with the Indians, April 3 and 4.


Grapefruit League on the horizon.

Grapefruit League games will begin on Wednesday, and it looks like Mike Hampton will get the first start. He’ll take the mound against the Nationals at Osceola County Stadium, beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET. Because it’s only the first game, Hampton probably won’t pitch more than one, or maybe two, innings.

Roy Oswalt will start the second game next Thursday at the Braves. That probably will be the only start he makes before departing for Clearwater on March 2 to join his Team USA teammates as they gear up for the World Baseball Classic. Depending on how far their teams get in the tournament, Oswalt, Carlos Lee [Panama] and Miguel Tejada [Dominican Repubic] could be away from Astros camp for three weeks.

Today is photo day, an annual rite of passage that involves players walking from station to station and posing for various outlets, including baseball card companies and wire services. Players don’t particularly love this day, because it means arriving to the ballpark before 7:30 a.m. The good thing is they get everything done at once and don’t have to do this again, until next year.

More later on Toby Hall’s MRI results and other news and notes from spring camp.



Day one in the books. Glad I remembered the sunblock.

Random news, tidbits and thoughts after my first day of Spring Training…

Roy Oswalt’s arm in better shape than it usually is this time of year, because of the World Baseball Classic. Oswalt, the likely ace of Team U.S.A., will leave Astros camp on March 2 to train in Clearwater, which means he’ll probably make only one start with the Astros before he takes off. Oswalt has been throwing to the baseball team at his old school, Holmes Community College, and reached 60 pitches the last time out. He should be fine, both for Team U.S.A. and for the Astros.

J.R. Towles didn’t have such a great experience at Winter Ball this year. Not only did he receive only 17 at-bats in five weeks with the Aguilas club in the Dominican League, he was the victim of theft after his hotel room was broken into while he took some time off to go home for Christmas. The manager at his hotel in Santiago, according to Towles, told him his belongings would be safe in his room while he was gone, but apparently, that wasn’t that case. Luggage and his wife’s clothes were among the many items missing when he returned. The experience left Towles with a bitter taste in his mouth, but he did walk away with a new appreciation for the Latin players who come to the United States to play. “I don’t know Spanish, and even ordering food took me sometimes 30 minutes,” Towles said. “I didn’t know how to tell them what I wanted and they didn’t know how to tell me what it was. I definitely gained an appreciation for what players have to go through here.”

What is it with the Astros and unsubstantiated rumors? First, it was Andy Pettitte “considering a lesser offer from the Astros” [not true]. Then it was the Astros making a move for Adam Dunn [also not true]. Now, the Astros have supposedly made an offer of around $2.5 million for Pudge Rodriguez, which, according to Ed Wade, has no validity whatsoever.

You wouldn’t believe how much information you can get from Wade in a three-minute conversation. You’d think more people would at least try it.

That said, after hearing Wade talk about the “11th hour” offers he made to Braden Looper and Randy Wolf, you have to wonder if the GM would at least be interested if Pudge’s asking price came down to, say, $1 million. Still, Wade really sounded like he wasn’t going to sign anyone else, and with the last two really quality free agent pitchers now off the table, I would have to believe that to be true.

Performance-enhancing drugs (let’s call them PED’s for short) are undoubtedly a hot topic in some Spring Training camps, but I can assure you the media covering the Astros would be more than happy if the subject was avoided all together. One local reporter brought it up in Cecil Cooper’s office this morning and you could practically hear the collective whisper — “here we go again.” Of course, there’s no chance we’re going to be able to put it off much longer, seeing Miguel Tejada is expected to be here on Tuesday. Should be interesting. He was smart not to take any questions the day of his court appearance last week (remember this is a legal issue) but eventually he’s going to have to talk. His sentencing is March 26, and afterward he might not be able to avoid the lingering questions that will follow him until he just stands up and gives some answers.

Brandon Backe will someday have a lot to say about his altercation with the Galveston Police last fall. He just can’t do it yet. But rest assured, he will.

On a completely unrelated note, this is what I love about Spring Training — all of the cynicism from the previous year is gone. Backe could not have had a worse ending to his season in ’08, yet after talking to him Saturday, I’m convinced he’s going to do what it takes this spring to make the rotation. He’s in great shape, feels strong and has a tremendous attitude. We’ll see how that translates.

Speaking of new beginnings, Cooper was completely at ease today — relaxed, comfortable, friendly.

Since my last trip to Kissimmee, a Pei Wei has opened in a shopping area I pass on my way to and from work. Things are definitely looking up.