Results tagged ‘ Roy Oswalt ’

Verified players on Twitter.

My blog about Twins closer Joe Nathan using Twitter to respond to a column written about him prompted questions from a few of you as to how many Major League players Tweet.

There are plenty of bogus accounts out there using the names of ballplayers, so MLB.com’s Mark Newman has compiled a list of verified accounts. Currently, Roy Oswalt is the only Astros player with a Twitter account. He hasn’t done much with it, but he’s planning to being more active in the near future.

The “Lance Berkman” account is bogus.

Click here for the full list of legit accounts.

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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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Hanging out with the popular kids (Brownie and J.D.).

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Every time I hop on an Astros message board, I’ll read about some funny one-liner from Jim Deshaies or a Bill Brown witticism or some other cool story emerging from the television booth. Selfishly, I find this to be problematic, because sometimes I feel like someone threw a party and didn’t invite me.

While Brownie and J.D. are yucking it up in the booth, I’m in the press box, with only muted television monitors to keep me entertained (um…other than the play on the field, of course. That’s what I meant to say.)

Anyhoo, I thought I’d mix things up a bit this road trip and blog and Twitter/tweet from the broadcast booths during the Astros’ series in Cincinnati this week. So on Tuesday, I’ll be in the television booth with Brownie and J.D., and on Wednesday I’ll move over to the radio side and hang out with radio announcers Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond.

I hope you’ll join in on the fun. You can follow me on Twitter at @alysonfooter, and I’ll be updating my blog a couple of times during the game as well. See/read you then.

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I’ve known Jose Cruz for the better part of 13 years, and while I’m sure he’s gotten mad at some point during that time, I’ve never actually seen him mad. So I was somewhat startled by how forceful he was with his response to Pirates closer Matt Capps’ accusation that he and Miguel Tejada were stealing signs during Sunday’s game.

“Not in the 13 years I’ve been [first base coach] or the 30 years I’ve been in baseball,” Cruz said. “I’m offended, yes. I don’t know how that guy got the idea that I gave the signs to Tejada.”

Other news and notes from the Astros clubhouse:

Jose Valverde is not in Cincinnati but general manager Ed Wade is hopeful the closer will rejoin the team on Tuesday. After ruling out strep throat, Valverde was simply diagnosed with a “virus.” Sounds like the flu, and I’m glad the team had enough sense not to send him on the charter. Being in such close quarters — the clubhouse, the airplanes, the dugouts — it seems like if one player gets sick, they all do.

Consider, for example, a brief spell back in 2005 when it seemed like the entire team had come down with the flu. I recall Lance Berkman walking around the clubhouse wearing a surgical mask and rubber gloves, which really should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the Puma.

Roy Oswalt underwent an MRI on his lower back on Friday, which came back negative. Wade blamed Oswalt’s problems simply on having a “veterans pitcher’s back,” which means when you pitch long enough in the Major Leagues, you’re going to suffer from some wear and tear.

Oswalt added swimming to his workout routine to strengthen his core and will cut down on the running.

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News and notes from Saturday at Busch Stadium:

Wandy Rodriguez left his start after four innings with a strained right hamstring, but after the game he said he did not think he would have to miss his next start. “It doesn’t hurt that much,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to miss a start. By how I’m feeling today, I don’t think I’ll miss a start, but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”

The last time through the rotation, the Astros have had only one starter go more than five innings — that would be Brian Moehler, who threw 6 2/3 in the opener at Busch Stadium on Friday. Kudos to Jeff Fulchino, who took the loss Saturday but undeservedly so — he soaked up three innings following Rodriguez’s departure and allowed one unearned run that scored due in part to an Humberto Quintero passed ball.

Roy Oswalt will throw Monday and will then determine whether he’s healthy enough to start Tuesday. My guess is no. That will necessitate the services of Felipe Paulino, who would likely be called up to make the spot start that day. The unfortunate part is that Oswalt would probably be ready by the weekend, but if the Astros disable him, he won’t be eligible to come off until the middle of the following week.

A good point was raised in the press box Saturday: over the course of a week, the Cardinals gained Holliday and the Astros lost Berkman. Slice it any way you want — this lineup just is not the same without Puma.

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Farewell to Russ Ortiz.

While Russ Ortiz quietly and eloquently addressed reporters about being released by the Astros, I turned to Doug Brocail and said, “I absolutely hate this part.”

Days like Thursday, simply put, stink. We know baseball is a business. We hear it ad nauseum from owners, GMs, managers and players. We get it. But baseball also happens to be a business where the product is people, and that makes times like this tough if you know the person affected.

The process by which a team releases one player and calls up another happens swiftly and efficiently, especially on a “getaway day,” which is code for the last game a team will play in one city before flying to the next.

Once the Astros made the final out Thursday at Wrigley Field, they filed into the clubhouse, and a few key figures immediately convened in Cecil Cooper’s office, with the door closed.

Following a brief phone call involving GM Ed Wade, who was not with the team in Chicago, Cooper summoned Ortiz into his office, and judging from Ortiz’s expression, he didn’t seem terribly surprised that the manager wanted to talk to him.

A somewhat lengthy closed-door conversation took place, with Ortiz receiving the news that he was released. Soon, the door opened, and Ortiz, expressionless, exited the office. “Thanks for everything, Russ,” Cooper said, likely his final formal words to the veteran pitcher.

The clubhouse was quiet — expected, given the loss to the Cubs and the realization that a teammate was just given his walking papers. Slowly, players filtered over to Ortiz’s locker, offering hugs and handshakes and well-wishes for their now former teammate.

Here’s the tough part — talking to the media. Ortiz spoke in hushed tones, but he handled himself with grace and professionalism. He was matter-of-fact when asked for his reaction: “I told them I understood. This is an important time of year…they didn’t obviously feel like they can keep sending me out. I don’t want to pitch like this and not have them confident in me. Even though I never wanted this to happen, it’s part of the game.

“I just wasn’t able to get it done, especially the last 2 times out. I came out for the game (Thursday) feeling I was ready.”

Cooper was direct and entirely correct when he said, “We can’t keep going like this. It’s killing our bullpen. Particularly today was really tough on us.”

Between Ortiz and Mike Hampton, starting pitchers absorbed exactly 6 1/3 innings over the last two games in Chicago, which left the bullpen to account for the other 9 2/3 frames. This couldn’t continue, especially considering Wesley Wright is recovering from a severe case of dehydration, Brocail is just now returning from the DL and Chris Sampson, less than a week off the DL, is again being overworked.

So yes, they can’t keep going like this. And I am sure Hampton realizes he’s on notice as well.

Bud Norris moves into the rotation, but what happens in St. Louis this weekend will depend on a few circumstances. The club first needs to determine if Roy Oswalt will be healthy enough to start Sunday (I have my doubts). Here’s what Wade told reporters via conference call following Thursday’s game:

“At this point, a couple of alternatives that we have. One, if Roy is ready to go Sunday in his start, then that would allow us to slide Norris into Russ’s slot in the rotation. If we have to think of the possibility of giving Roy a couple extra days, we can put him in the Ortiz spot in the rotation and give Norris the start on Sunday.

“If we have to skip Roy, then we’re going to have to reconvene and try to figure out how we cover both his start and Russ’s spot.

“So, there are sort of the moving parts, and they’ll be dictated by how Roy feels once he gets to St. Louis (Friday) and he and (head athletic trainer) Nate (Lucero) have a chance to talk. We’re going to talk on the flight over about the possibility of maybe shifting Roy a couple of days to cover both spots.”

Read McTaggart’s story here.

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Moving on…

The Astros obviously didn’t fare so well in Chicago, but they did score some runs here and there, which may turn out to be good news for your wallet. The Astros recently rolled out a “We Score, You Score” promotion, which gives you one dollar off field box tickets for each run the Astros scored during their four-game series with the Cubs. The offer extends to the first three games of the homestand next week.

The Astros scored 15 runs, so a $39 Field Box ticket is now $24. Check it out here.

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Astros through the years (and the lens of my camera).

During Spring Training, I posted a three-part pictorial series on my blog, where I shared some of my favorite snapshots of the last 12-plus years. Thanks to Facebook, I have a handy place to store those photos, and now fans can peruse at their leisure. They’re posted in the “photos” section near the top of the Astros Facebook page. Check it out and feel free to comment, I hope you get as much enjoyment from them as I have.

You’ll also find every other picture I’ve posted on my blog over the last several months in the photo section. Enjoy!

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Wright a starter? Team news and notes, and answers to your questions.

Wesley Wright was sent to Triple-A Round Rock a couple of weeks ago mainly because he wasn’t effective enough on the big league level. But his time spent down on the farm wasn’t designed only for him to “work on things” — he was also sent down to get stretched out to be more than a one-batter or one-inning pitcher.

No, the Astros aren’t converting him to a starter — yet. But don’t count it out as an option down the road.

Wright, who was recalled after Thursday’s game when Felipe Paulino went on the DL, appeared in four games for the Express, including one start. He threw 66 pitches in that outing, a remarkable number considering he had started a grand total of seven games during his Minor League career, five of which arrived in his first season in 2003, as a Class A Dodgers farmhand.

The Astros tabbed Wright as a reliever when they plucked him from the Dodgers organization during the Rule 5 draft in 2007, mainly because they had a need for a left-hander in the ‘pen. But there appears to be a need for starting pitching these days, and perhaps Wright might fit the bill, someday. He’s still in the ‘pen, but the fact that the Astros sent him to Round Rock to get stretched out, build up his innings and work on his pitches is intriguing. Stay tuned.

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Bud Norris is another interesting study. During Spring Training, several Astros evaluators said if Norris, the club’s top pitching prospect, can develop the changeup and effectively use it as a quality third pitch, his future is probably as a starter. If it turns out he is more of a two-pitch pitcher, he could be looked at as a future candidate for the back end of the bullpen, possibly as a closer. As of now, his changeup is coming along nicely, and the Astros are still hopeful he can eventually turn into a top-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.

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The Astros, much like Humpty Dumpty, are slowly putting themselves together again. Jose Valverde is back after a two-game rehab stint with Double-A Corpus Christi. He needed a grand total of six pitches — all strikes — to get through one inning of work Thursday night. He’ll be activated before Saturday’s game.

Kazuo Matsui started Thursday’s Corpus game at second base and was hitless in four at-bats but drove in one run. On Friday, he was 1-for-4 and played eight innings. He’ll play Saturday with the Hooks, will be off Sunday and is scheduled to rejoin the Astros for Tuesday’s game in Arlington.

Valverde has been out since April 27 with a strained right calf, while Matsui has been sidelined since May 26 with a strained left hamstring.

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Roy Oswalt says his wrist feels fine and he’s ready to face the Diamondbacks on Saturday. He was pushed back a day because of what he suspects was a touch of tendinitis.

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Geoff Geary accepted his Minor League assignment and will report to Round Rock Saturday. He had two choices: accept the assignment and continue to be paid, or reject it, become a free agent and not be paid the balance of his contract. He’d have to bank on another club willing to sign him and pay him the approximately $1.05 million he’s still owed by the Astros.

In other words, he’s reporting to Round Rock Saturday.

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Thanks for your emails and questions…just as a reminder, you can email your inquiries to askalyson@astros.com. I’ll try to either post answers here or answer you personally. You can also catch my updates on Twitter. My screen name is alysonfooter.

Question:

Recently Jason Castro was moved up to AA Corpus Christi, and rightfully so judging by the numbers he was putting up. How soon will the Astros be moving up some of their other top prospects? To name a few, Jonathan Gaston and J.B. Shuck have both been excellent at Class A Lancaster, and practically the entire starting rotation at Class A Lexington (Seaton, Lyles, Dydalewicz, Bono and Greenwalt) has been doing wonderfully. The Astros have to be happy about some of the things going on in their two A-ball clubs. What can we expect to see from these teams in the near future, and is Castro still on track to possibly get a
look in Spring Training for the 2010 starting job? — Brian S.

Shuck and Gaston are both off to really good starts, and both jumped over low A ball and went straight to High A Lancaster this year after starting their pro careers last year in Rookie Ball. Through Thursday, Shuck, an outfielder, was hitting .323 with 11 doubles, four triples and 17 RBIs over 56 games. Gaston, also an outfielder, has hit an eye-popping 15 home runs over 60 games. He has a .291 average, 16 doubles, eight triples and 42 RBIs.

If they continue at this pace, they’ll get serious consideration for Double-A. Whether comes in the near future or the latter part of season remains to be determined. But it appears the Astros front office is as impressed with these kids as you are.

The rotation at Lexington is getting quite a bit of attention inside baseball circles, but the Astros are not going to rush them through the system. Three of the starting five — Seaton, Lyles, Dydalewicz — were just drafted last year, and the other two — Bono and Greenwalt — are in their first year at Lexington. We’ve heard over and over that the true pitching talent is in the lower levels of the farm system and I think we’re seeing that first-hand now.

The likelihood is that all five stay in Lexington for the season, to build up innings. Promotions aren’t out of the question but there are no plans right now.

As for Castro, tabbing him as the starting catcher out of Spring Training next year might be a stretch. He’ll be given the chance to compete for the job but I’m inclined to believe they might be looking for another stop-gap — a la Pudge Rodriguez — to give Castro more time to develop. I would not be surprised if Castro was called up at some point during the season, and he’s moving up the ladder at a nice pace, but I suspect the Astros will want to give him something close to a full season at Triple-A before they’ll think about making him the front-line starting catcher.

Oswalt threw 17 pitches. When should he pitch next?

Let’s call Saturday’s start a bullpen session for our resident ace, who was out after one inning and 17 pitches because of a one-hour, 37-minute rain delay.

There is no reason why Oswalt can’t pitch as early as Monday. Russ Ortiz is scheduled to start that game. Brian Moehler is scheduled for Tuesday. Who should Oswalt bump?

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