Tag:Jason Castro
Posted on: March 7, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Astros searching for catching

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jason CastroWhen Jason Castro went down with a sprained knee, the Astros were content with what they had in camp to cover their catching needs.

But when the news came back that Castro had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (on the play seen at the left) and would miss the majority of the season, that plan changed.

"We're reassessing it," Astros owner Drayton McLane told Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle

Castro is still the team's long-term catcher, but the team may look outside for a stopgap solution. Currently the team has Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles -- neither of whom profile as much more than quality backups.

The team has just three other catchers in camp, Carlos Corporan, Brian Esposito and Rene Garcia. Neither Corporan, 27, nor Esposito, 32, are prospects, while the 20-year old Garcia hit just .250/.288/.308 combined at the two levels of Class A last season.

"At the end of the day, I'm hoping the guys we have here step up and do what they're capable of doing and win the job," general manager Ed Wade said. "At the same time, if I get a call from somebody and they say, 'Hey, we've got so-and-so available, and this is what we're looking for,' and it fits what we're trying to do, we'd be prepared to do something today."

Ryan DoumitFront-line catching talent isn't exactly easy to find. One of the few catchers on the trading block is Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit.

However, Doumit is owed $5.1 million this season and is far from Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate. But he does have a bat and a bat that would play well at Minute Maid Park. In 72 career plate appearances in Houston, Doumit has hit .292/.347/.446 with three home runs.

Still, Pirates GM Neal Huntington said his phone hasn't exactly been ringing off the hook for Doumit.

"There's really no conversations going on because everybody's focused on their own clubs," Huntington told Ron Musselman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

UPDATE: MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes the Astros have asked the Nationals about Jesus Flores, but is concerned about the health of Flores' right shoulder, which has kept him off the field the last two seasons.
The Nationals have depth at catcher with starter and future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, along with Wilson Ramos, who is considered their catcher of the future. The team also things Derek Norris is ready to hit at in the big leagues and is improving defensively.
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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 11:33 am
 

Astros catcher out with knee injury

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Astros catcher Jason Castro will return to Houston today to meet with the team's medical director after suffering a torn medical meniscus in his right knee. He will likely undergo surgery, and his status for the beginning of the season is doubtful, at best.

Castro hurt his knee Wednesday, trying to avoid getting tagged out at first on a slow ground ball in the team's exhibition against the Tigers in Lakeland.

"I thought a lot about that [Wednesday] night," Castro told the Houston Chronicle's Steve Campbell. "But It's OK. I'm OK with it. There's nothing that can change it. I'm trying to stay positive and really just look to start the rehab process and get back playing."

The Associated Press' David J. Phillip caught a photo of the injury here:

Jason Castro

Castro, 23, played 67 games for the Astros last season, hitting .205/.286/.573 in 217 plate appearances. The Astros expected him to step into the starting catching role this season. However, the team does have veterans Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles in camp to take his place, and maybe into the start of the season.

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Posted on: October 14, 2010 7:21 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:57 am
 

R.I.P. Astros: Moving on

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Now: the Houston Astros.

Few teams were as bad as the Astros were in the first part of the season, and then few teams were as good as the Astros in the second half of the season.

Carlos Lee WHAT WENT WRONG

When I see Carlos Lee (pictured), I sometimes I think of the line in "Major League" when Charlie Donovan says, "I forgot about Dorn, because he's jolly high-priced." Lee owed $37 million through the next two seasons.

Lee didn't hit a homer in the season's first month, entered June with a .206 batting average and finished the season hitting .246/.291/.417 with 24 homers and 89 RBI. He's a below-average designated hitter that plays in the National League.

It's not to say Lee was all that was wrong with the Astros. Others struggled, such as Lance Berkman and Pedro Felice.

What may have been more devastating was seeing prospects the team had been counting on, such Tommy Manzella, Jason Castro and J.R. Towles struggle.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Brad Mills A lot of credit has to go to first-year manager Brad Mills. The team went 40-59 in their first 99 games of the season before finishing 36-27 the rest of the way. Mills also did it without some of his high-priced talent, as the team jettisoned Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Pedro Feliz.

Third baseman Chris Johnson had a good season, going .308/.337/.481 with 11 homers. Hunter Pence cashed in on the promise he'd shown early in his career, hitting .282/.325/.461 with 25 home runs, 91 RBI and 18 stolen bases.

The team relied on good starting pitching during its good streak from Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ, and all four of those starters return for 2011.

HELP ON THE WAY

Ugh. Not really. That's the problem with cutting your losses and going young -- you need young players to replace the old ones. It's cheaper, but the Astros have one of the worst farm systems in the majors.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The second half of the season raised the bar for the Astros, so fans will be expecting at least a .500 team, if not a run at the NL Central title.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Astros took the right direction during the season, trading Berkman and Oswalt.

Houston has Berkan, Oswalt, Feliz and Kaz Matsui off the books, but there's not a whole to to spend that money on in free agency.

Although Berkman had hinted that he wanted to return to Houston, the teams needs to resist nostalgia and give Brett Wallace a chance at first base.

2011 PREDICTION

The optimism from the last part of 2010 will be gone by the All-Star break and the team will finish ahead of the Pirates in the National League Central, but won't be challenging for a title.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 7, 2010 12:57 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 1:59 pm
 

Astros rookies get dressed up

If your team is out of the playoff hunt, September always seems to have one more treat for you -- the rookie road trip.

Every year in just about every clubhouse, rookies come into the clubhouse following the last game of a series to find their clothes replaced with some kind of embarrassing costume that they must wear until they get to the hotel in the next city.

Year after year it happens. A couple of years ago I was covering a team that had to scrap its plans at the last minute because the manager was mad and didn't want any merriment from a team following a loss, despite the fact the team was safely out of the running.

While some teams will have these kind of shenanigans earlier in the season, most wait until the end of the season because there are more rookies once call-ups are made. And then there's the whole question of who is a rookie, these pranks aren't like chicken pox -- you can get them more than once. Jeff Keppinger told me he had to do it three different times because of late call-ups and new teams.

Well, Keppinger didn't have to do it this season, but his teammates did. Astros.com's Alyson Footer got some great photos for her blog . Click to see Chris Johnson and Jason Castro as Saturday Night Live 's Ace and Gary, Henry Villar as Super Mario Brother Luigi and Fernando Abad as the ever-popular naughty nurse.

Footer also pulled up old pictures of Roy Oswalt in a Hooters get-up in 2001 and Morgan Ensberg in the same the year before.

It's great stuff from Footer and hopefully we'll see more of these from other teams in coming weeks.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:48 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 1:49 pm
 

Oswalt plays in left

It was certainly an odd thing to hear -- "now batting, the left fielder, Roy Oswalt."

But it was said and it was correct.

Roy Oswalt Oswalt then grounded out to end the game, a 4-2 Astros victory in 16 innings at Citizen's Bank Park. The game started Tuesday and finished early Wednesday morning in five hours and 20 minutes. The Astros intentionally walked Chase Utley, putting the tying run on first, to get to Oswalt with two outs in the 16th.

Oswalt entered the game as the left fielder for the 15th inning after Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was ejected after he was called out on a check swing to end the 14th inning with two runners on.

After the checked swing, Howard flipped his bat and was tossed. Howard had already given third-base umpire Scott Barry a stare-down after a similar call. Once Howard was ejected, the first baseman stormed down the baseline toward Barry and had to be held back by his teammates.

Ross Gload, currently on the disabled list, was also ejected for his comments from the dugout.

With no position players available, Oswalt was put in left field and Raul Ibanez was moved from left to first.

"We felt like Oswalt's athletic, he catches fly balls and stuff so we put him in the outfield," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

To lead off the 15th, Houston's Jason Castro flied out to Oswalt in left. Ibanez, making his first appearance at first since 2005, then recorded two putouts, including a nice play on Michael Bourn's bunt attempt.

Oswalt became the second pitcher to record an out in the outfield this season. St. Louis' Kyle Lohse had a putout in the April 17 game between the Mets and Cardinals that went 20 innings.

Ibanez was unable to come up with a throw on a double play attempt in the 16th that led to a run.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm
 

Cash an option for Red Sox

Kevin Cash There was no word Monday afternoon whether Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who suffered a thumb fracture on his glove hand Sunday, would be placed on the disabled list. There's a chance he could continue to catch with some extra protection for the thumb.

If Martinez is going to be out for a while, Boston is going to have to go outside the organization for help -- the top two Triple-A catchers in the organization are out, naturally, with thumb injuries.

WEEI.com points out an obvious solution: Kevin Cash. Cash is currently at Triple-A in the Astros organization, and with Houston giving Jason Castro his big break, there's not likely to be a need or a place for Cash at the major-league level. The Astros would probably let the Red Sox have him for practically nothing (or, if they want to be literal, they could trade Cash for cash).

Cash, 32, played for the Red Sox in 2007 and 2008. He has experience catching several Red Sox pitchers, most importantly knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Cash batted .204 in 20 games at the major-league level this season, so he's not exactly an offensive replacement for Martinez (.289, 38 RBI), but the injury-plagued Red Sox are not really in a position to pick and choose right now.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: June 20, 2010 7:11 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2010 8:01 pm
 

Astros shake up roster

Jason castro Not content to remain in free fall, the Astros made some changes after Sunday's loss, their eighth in 10 games.

Houston designated for assignment catcher Kevin Cash (.216 average), outfielder Cory Sullivan (.190) and reliever Casey Daigle (six major-league innings in four years). Called up were catcher Jason Castro, infielder Chris Johnson and outfielder Jason Bourgeois. Castro and Bourgeois were not on the 40-man roster.

Castro (pictured), the Astros' top draft pick in 2008, will be making his major league debut, and manager Brad Mills indicated to reporters after the game that he'll be the starting catcher. Humberto Quintero was hit in the head by a swung bat Sunday, causing a gash that needed seven stitches, and could miss time. Cash was the only other catcher on the active roster.

Castro, 23, was batting .265 with four homers and 26 RBIs for Triple-A Round Rock. He's a good contact hitter who has power potential.

Johnson's arrival could portend a seat on the bench for third baseman Pedro Feliz, batting a disappointing .220. Johnson hasn't done much in two brief prior major-league opportunities (including eight games this season), but he's been killing the ball at Triple-A (.329 average, .932 OPS) and the Astros are in dire need of offense.

Bourgeois, a Houston native, brings speed and will probably be a backup in the outfield, replacing Sullivan. He was batting .345 at Round Rock, fifth in the Pacific Coast League.

Houston is 26-44, 12 1/2 games out in the National League Central. The Astros have scored the second-fewest runs in the NL and have the lowest OPS in the majors at .619. They really have nothing to lose by looking to the future and giving some young guys a chance.

-- David Andriesen

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