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Hernandez leads list of latest cuts

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by Sattle, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. Sattle

    Sattle Contributing Member

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    LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Houston Astros made several roster moves prior to their Monday evening game with the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, most notably the optioning of left-hander Carlos Hernandez to Triple-A New Orleans.

    The Astros also optioned right-hander Jared Gothreaux and lefty Wandy Rodriguez to Triple-A and reassigned outfielder Charles Gipson, right-hander Turk Wendell and catcher/infielder Royce Huffman, all non-roster invitees, to minor league camp.

    Sending Hernandez to Triple-A is not viewed by the organization as a demotion. With two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and a slew of pitchers in need of innings, the Astros are simply running out of playing time for everyone. Hernandez, who is still in the running for the fifth starter's job, will be able to stay on a normal schedule and log innings with the Round Rock club.

    "I think the way to go with him is to get him some starts down there and start stretching his innings out," manager Phil Garner said. "I think he needs to pitch more than he needs to sit up here [in big league camp]."

    Both Garner and Astros general manager Tim Purpura agree that Hernandez has made strides this spring in raising his arm angle and improving his changeup, two areas the left-hander must to improve upon if he hopes to have success on the Major League level.

    "His arm slot is getting better every time, his changeup has been very good and the progression has been real good," Purpura said. "I think he's still trying to build some velocity, but his arm angle is allowing him to improve his velocity. We're very encouraged by where he's at."

    Hernandez was 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA over three spring games, including two starts. He allowed seven earned runs over eight innings with seven walks and three strikeouts.

    The 24-year-old is one of five candidates being considered for the fifth starter job. Dave Burba and Ezequiel Astacio recently emerged as front-runners, with Tim Redding and Brandon Duckworth making a case for themselves, too.

    The Astros won't need a fifth starter until April 17, and Hernandez and Astacio are at somewhat of an advantage because they can start the season at Round Rock and stay on their normal routine. Redding and Duckworth are out of options on their contracts and therefore have to either make the team out of Spring Training or be traded or released.

    Hernandez is still trying to make a full comeback after his 2002 shoulder surgery, but this year, the Astros view him as someone who can contribute to the big league club.

    "I think he will be a factor on this team," Garner said. "I don't know when it'll be, but I believe he'll be a factor in helping us win this year. I think he's back, I think he's going to pitch well, I think he's learned much better how to pitch. It's just a question of when that opportunity comes."

    "He was very positive and very professional and he understood what we're trying to accomplish," Purpura said. "We feel like even if it's not to start the season, if he continues on the route he's on, he's going to be able to help us this season."

    Oswalt rolls: Roy Oswalt was scheduled to throw five innings during his start against the Tigers on Monday, but the right-hander stayed in for a sixth to raise his pitch count to the 80 he had planned on throwing.


    News and features:
    • Oswalt, Astros top Tigers in Lakeland
    • Astros notes: Roster cuts include Hernandez
    • Astros mailbag: Will Astacio crack the rotation?

    Multimedia:
    • Astros GM Tim Purpura:
    • Astros 2B prospect Chris Burke:
    • Astros RP John Franco:

    Info: Schedule | Ballpark | Tickets
    MLB.com's complete coverage


    The outing was his best yet this spring: six innings, seven hits, two runs, no walks, seven strikeouts. And he did it mostly with only two pitches.

    "I told 'Chamo' [catcher Raul Chavez] that we were going to work with curveballs and fastballs until late in the game," Oswalt said. "I don't think I threw a slider or changeup until the fourth inning. I wanted to get those two pitches going, because those are my two main pitches. A lot of times during the spring, you start working on other stuff and you lose what you have."

    "That looked like midseason form right there," Garner said of the outing. "He was very crisp tonight."

    Think it over: Purpura said he expects the non-roster players who were reassigned to report to minor league camp, but he is giving Wendell some time to think about what he wants to do.

    "I expect him to report tomorrow, but he said he's going to think about it a few days and see how much more he wants to do in the game," Purpura said. "I'm optimistic that he'll stay around and not ask for his release, but he could.

    "Players like Turk -- he's got close to 10 years in the big leagues -- if he asked for his release because he wasn't optimistic about our situation, we would certainly look to give him his release. We wouldn't stand in his way."

    Biggio plays left: Craig Biggio played left field during a Class A game on Monday afternoon against the Washington Nationals' Class A club. He played defense only and made an over-the-fence grab on a fly ball.

    "He made a nice play," Garner said. "The report I got was pretty good."

    The game marked the first time Biggio has played in the outfield all spring. Every other start he has made has come at second, where he will likely play the majority of the remaining Grapefruit League games.

    "I don't think it's going to take much for him to get his outfield legs under him," Garner said. "I was more concerned with getting his infield legs under him than his outfield legs."

    And the rest: Chris Burke has missed two consecutive games after receiving six stitches in his right knee. He is expected to miss Tuesday's home game with the Nationals, as well. "He's OK," Garner said of Burke, who was spiked in the knee during Saturday's game with the Blue Jays. "He may need another day. It's just stitches. He's a little sore."

    Coming up: left-hander Andy Pettitte will start for Houston on Tuesday. He will face Washington right-hander Tony Armas, Jr. Other Astros slated to pitch include John Franco, Russ Springer and Brad Lidge. ... Roger Clemens will throw a simulated game on Wednesday in place of his scheduled start against the Phillies. Clemens is recovering from a strained right hamstring.
     
  2. Sattle

    Sattle Contributing Member

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  3. wrath_of_khan

    wrath_of_khan Contributing Member

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    The whole Hernandez thing just pains me every time i think about it.

    He was looking so good before the shoulder injury. The lefthanded #2 or #3 pitcher we've lacked since Hampton.
     
  4. shsu33

    shsu33 Member

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    As a long time Hernandez supporter I hate to think that he might not be starting this year. He can pitch and if he can just get his velocity back since his shoulder injury then watch out for him. I would hope that in 5 years from now Oswalt, Backe, Hernandez and Pettitte(in his twilight years) will still be a great line-up.
    Astro fans please don't give up on Carlos, the man can pitch!
     

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