Results tagged ‘ Root! Root! Root! ’
Taking early batting practice is pretty standard when a team is on the road, but normally, only a handful of players are present for the drill. Early BP, during which a team reserves the field prior to the home team taking it over for their daily practice, is normally designed for bench players looking to get some extra swings in, or regular players trying to work through some soreness or a slump, or young players looking for some extra time in the cage.
According to manager Brad Mills, attendance was a lot higher for early BP on Friday in Pittsburgh, enough for three hitting groups. That can partly be attributed to the weather — it was one of those picture-perfect sunny days, around 70 degrees with no humidity. Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a destination spot for ballplayers (although I’ve always said it’s a very underrated city, and great for baseball), so most were probably ready to head to the ballpark early, anyway. Players also like to get some extra swings in after an offday, which could also explain the crowd this time.
One of the participants was J.D. Martinez, who you’ve probably noticed was dropped in the order a few days ago and then omitted from the lineup more recently. Martinez carried an 0-for-21 streak to Pittsburgh and wasn’t in the starting lineup for Friday’s opener.
Mills said reinserting Martinez into the lineup is “coming up pretty quick,” after he gives the outfielder a chance to clear his head.
“I think he’s getting to where he needs to be,” Mills said.
Meanwhile, Mills tried something new with the lineup, sliding Jose Altuve into the three-hole for the first time and moving Jed Lowrie back up to two.
Until Friday, there were four players who had batted third this season: Martinez (23 games), Lowrie (five games), Travis Buck (two games) and Brian Bogusevic (one game).
“There are a lot of things I like about it,” Mills said of the Lowrie-Altuve tandem. “I talked to Jed and Altuve about it and they were all in.”
Mills also hinted he may keep them there for the remainder of this series.
Brett Myers refers to the bullpen corps as “The Regulators” and often heaps praise on his ‘pen mates after the Astros nail down close wins. How do I know this? Why, I follow Myers on Twitter, of course.
Myers, who goes by the Twitter handle @TheOutlaw39, is one of several players who signed up at some point this season. Another newcomer is reliever Wilton Lopez, who can be found in Twitterland at @lopezwilton59.
Altuve will sign autographs (free of charge) at the Team Store at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, May 19 from 1 to 2 p.m. CT. Autographs are not guaranteed, so the Astros encourage you get there early. We will send out several reminders leading up to the event.
An Astros player will sign autographs at no charge on Saturday per month at the Team Store throughout the season.
Finally, we went with a smile-and-be-happy theme to today’s photo album. Batting practice, at beautiful PNC Park:
Richard Hidalgo hasn’t played in the big leagues in quite some time, but he has always been a regular presence and active player at Winter Ball in his native Venezuela.
During the Astros’ television broadcast Monday night, Hidalgo told FS Houston’s Patti Smith that he will likely retire this year and start coaching baseball in Venezuela. If he ever decides to pursue a coaching career in the United States (a notion that isn’t out of the question, considering he makes his year-round home in Orlando, Fla.), I hope he gives the Astros a call, or vice versa.
Hidalgo was a fan favorite when he played in Houston, but that was nothing compared to how popular he was inside the clubhouse. Hidalgo was a great teammate, a hard worker and a kind person. Everyone loved “Doggie,” and when he was traded to the Mets in the middle of the 2004 season, a forlorn Gerry Hunsicker, then the GM, mentioned that he whenever Hidalgo retired, he would be the first to try to bring him back into the coaching ranks.
Hidalgo was a regular presence at the Astros’ Venezuelan Academy in the late 1990s and early 2000s on his own volition. He wasn’t asked or paid by the Astros to spend time with the young prospects; he simply was there because he enjoyed passing his knowledge down to the younger generation.
Hidalgo was a matinee idol in Venezuela during his years with the Astros, but in all of his years here, he never changed. He was, and is, a heck of guy. It was great to catch up with him at Minute Maid Park, and here’s hoping we’ll see him again in the future.
There are records for everything, and there is a record in the Astros’ books for the most games a player reaches base safely to start a season. The record is held by Denis Menke, who reached base safely in the first 25 games he played in 1969.
Jordan Schafer, with his base hit that broke up R.A. Dickey’s no-hit bid in the sixth inning Monday, has now reached safely in 23 games. That ties him with Ricky Gutierrez (1998) for second place.
A couple of other cool stats we came across before the game:
* The Astros have greatly improved in plate discipline from last year. In 2011, the Astros ranked 30th (last) with a 2.5 walks-per-game ratio. This year, through Sunday’s game, they were drawing 3.6 walks per game, good for seventh-best in the Majors. The difference of 1.1 walk improvement is the second- best in the big leagues, behind only the Indians (2.0).
* After going 3-for-5 on Sunday in Cincinnati, Jose Altuve’s .373 batting average ranks among the best ever by any Astro through 22 team games. All-time:
Derek Bell, 1998, .402
Billy Hatcher, 1987, .391
Joe Morgan, 1966, .375
Cesar Cedeno, 1972, .375
Jose Altuve, 2012, .373
Insider’s peek: photos, billboards are front and center as Astros reveal their Root! Root! Root! campaign.
Emphasizing the Astros’ passion for baseball and the importance of supporting the home team, the Astros rolled out their Root! Root! Root! 2012 marketing campaign on Monday.
Here is an example of the billboards you will see around Houston this season…
…and the wallscapes that will adorn Minute Maid Park:
Root! Root! Root! is based on the classic song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” played in every Major League ballpark during the seventh-inning stretch. Additionally, the Astros have launched a Spanish campaign to accompany the English version, entitled, “¡DALE! ¡DALE! ¡DALE!”
The campaign emphasizes the enthusiasm and passion for baseball shared by the Astros new ownership group led by Jim Crane and also encourages fans and the city to support the home team. The campaign will also reflect the excitement surrounding the 50th anniversary of the ball club and what it means to the fans, the city of Houston and throughout Major League Baseball.
In the upcoming weeks, the Astros will promote the ROOT! ROOT! ROOT! campaign in a variety of ways, including social media, in print, through email campaigns and on billboards, radio, t-shirts, wallscapes, pole banners and columns.
While we’ll refer to the campaign with exclamation points when we’re writing about it (Root! Root! Root!), the billboards and printed material will use periods (Root. Root. Root.). I really like the look of the billboards using the periods — it’s subtle yet bold, and has a definitive meaning that conveys two messages important to the Astros: they have a young team with likable players, and their ballpark, still one of the premier stadiums in baseball, is a great place to take in a game.
To enhance that message, the Astros introduced several fan-friendly gameday initiatives a while back, designed to engender good will with the fan base. These include allowances to bring food and water into the ballpark, and cheaper beer and ticket prices.
I’ve heard from a lot of you on the campaign already. What about the rest of you? Like? Dislike? Somewhere in between?