Astros honor Stoneman Douglas HS at Spring Training

Astros honor Stoneman Douglas HS at Spring Training

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Members of Stoneman Douglas High School’s baseball team visited the Houston Astros in Spring Training Friday.

Caps donning the high school’s logo were worn by players across Major League Baseball on the first day of exhibition games.

Friday, the Astros took it one step further with a gesture that will never be forgotten.

Stoneman Douglas coaches stood side by side with Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow as he raised the Commissioner’s Trophy during a pregame ceremony.

“It’s just unbelievable on the Astros’ part to invite us out here,” said Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald.

The Astros gave Fitz-Gerald, his sons and an assistant coach an extraordinary experience, chatting with players, watching a training session and sitting next to the trophy.

It was more than just caps — it’s compassion from the Astros.

“It’s not like we’re doing anything out of the ordinary for them. This isn’t charity. They just get to be around us, which I think is really good for them,” said designated hitter Evan Gattis.

Being around the Astros went a long way with Fitz-Gerald’s son Hunter, a high school student.

“I’m doing better,” he said. “It’s hard, but our team is all there for us. A lot of people in the community are supporting us.”

In baseball, players take it one day at a time. It’s the same thing for the Stoneman Douglas community.

But Friday was a great day.

“It’s unbelievable. You can’t explain it,” Fitz-Gerald said. “What a great country we live in. Our community’s strong. We couldn’t be more appreciative for the support we’ve gotten across Major League Baseball and the country itself. We’re going to be better for this. Trust me. We’ll be back. We’ll be stronger than ever. Believe it.”

Players signed the caps that will later be auctioned off with proceeds going to a victims’ fund.

© 2018 KHOU

Baseball notebook: MLB honors Florida high school

Baseball notebook: MLB honors Florida high school

Baseball honors Florida high school

Spring training got off to a solemn start as MLB teams wore hats to honor Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were fatally shot nine days ago.

Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald and his two sons were guests of the Houston Astros for their spring opener against the Washington Nationals. Members of the school’s baseball and softball teams were guests of the Marlins and mingled on the field with players, coaches and CEO Derek Jeter.

Teams had the option of wearing the caps, which are black with “SD” in block letters, during the games or only during warmups. Both the Astros and Nationals wore them during Friday’s games.

MLB ordered more than 2,500 of the caps from New Era, league spokesman Steven Arrocho said. Many teams will have players sign them, and they will be auctioned to benefit the families affected by the shooting.

Rasmus is back • Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.

Rasmus signed a minor league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason. The contract is for $3 million if he makes the Orioles and contains up to $2 million in incentives.

The 31-year-old outfielder

has a .242 lifetime average in nine seasons with St. Louis, Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay. He hit .281 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs in 37 games with the Rays last season.

Detroit has deal with Liriano • Detroit agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with lefthander Francisco Liriano, giving the Tigers added pitching depth.

The 34-year-old was 6-7 with a 4.62 ERA in 18 starts last season with Toronto and 20 relief appearances with World Series champion Houston, which acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline. The 34-year old is 102-99 in a 12-year big league career.

Liriano can earn $1 million in performance bonuses based on starts.

Rangers, Chavez agree to 1-year deal • Pitcher Jesse Chavez and the Texas Rangers have completed a $1 million, one-year contract.

The deal is not guaranteed. The base salary would escalate to $1.5 million if the 34-year-old righthander is on the 25-man active roster on opening day.

Chavez was 7-11 with a 5.34 ERA in 21 starts and 17 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Angels last year. He has a 33-51 record and 4.69 ERA over 10 seasons in 70 starts and 283 relief appearances for Pittsburgh (2008-09), Atlanta (2010), Kansas City (2010-11), Toronto (2012 and ‘16), Oakland (2012-15), the Los Angeles Dodgers (2016) and the Angels.

Minor leagers suspended for drugs • Baltimore third baseman Jaime Estrada and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Andrew Vinson have been suspended without pay for the first 50 games of the season under baseball’s minor league drug program.

Estrada was suspended for a positive test for strychnine, the commissioner’s office said. He’s on the roster of the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League team. Vinson was suspended for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He’s on the roster of Burlington in the Midwest League.

Tatis homers in second at-bat • Fernando Tatis Jr. wasted no time in showing the San Diego Padres how much talent he has.

One of baseball’s top prospects and the son of a former major leaguer, Tatis hit a monster opposite-field home run in his second at-bat in the Padres’ spring opener against the Seattle Mariners.

Tatis swung and missed at two sliders from righthander Shawn Armstrong in the eighth inning of the 3-2 loss. After taking a ball and fouling off a pitch, Tatis drove a 1-2 outside fastball beyond the right-field fence at Peoria Stadium.

“It feels awesome, man,” said Tatis, who turned 19 last month. “I’ve been working hard for this, being here now and trying to show off what I’ve got, and just working.”

Associated Press

MLB teams wear hats to honor high school shooting victims

MLB teams wear hats to honor high school shooting victims

Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald and his two sons were guests of the Houston Astros for their spring opener against the Washington Nationals. Members of the school’s baseball and softball teams were guests of the Miami Marlins and mingled on the field with players, coaches and CEO Derek Jeter.

Teams had the option of wearing the caps, which are black with “SD” in block letters, during the games or only during warm-ups. The Astros, Nationals, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were among the teams to wear the hats Friday.

“Anytime people are hurting, and we know the community is hurting right now, baseball can sometimes play a part with the healing process,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And so to honor them and try and have a little bit of thoughts and prayers and our thoughts are with people who are hurting, it’s something small that it was cool to be a part of.”

MLB ordered more than 2,500 of the caps from New Era, league spokesman Steven Arrocho said. Many teams will have players sign them, and they will be auctioned to benefit the victims and families affected by the shooting.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday’s gesture “puts everything in perspective.”

“Wearing the hats today, I think that means a lot to all of us. It puts everything in perspective,” Cora said. “Something that obviously, it gets your attention. My daughter turns 15 in a few weeks, and I got an email the other day from her school talking about them having a drill. That’s not normal.”

Fitz-Gerald said it was a “relief” to get back to the sport he loves and to stop thinking, at least for a moment, about the tragedy that befell his school. Fourteen students and three teachers were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded. A former student is in custody on 17 counts of murder.

Since the tragedy, many of the Stoneman Douglas survivors have been outspoken in calling for change, a sentiment Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he respects.

“I hope the kids stay after it,” Maddon said. “From me to them, anything I can do personally, I’m here to help. A lot of guys on the team feel the same way. If there is anything more specific that can be done, I need to know that.

“At some point we have to re-establish sensibility and common sense. Whatever we can do, I want it out there. We need to come together and create some answers.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Spring training roundup: Teams honor slain Florida students

Spring training roundup: Teams honor slain Florida students

Washington Nationals pitcher Tim Collins wears the cap of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagles baseball team before the start of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Players around the league are wearing the caps to remember the victims of a shooting at the school last week. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Spring training got off to a solemn start as MLB teams wore hats to honor Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were fatally shot nine days ago.

Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald and his two sons were guests of the Houston Astros for their spring opener against the Washington Nationals. Members of the school’s baseball and softball teams were guests of the Marlins and mingled on the field with players, coaches and CEO Derek Jeter.

Teams had the option of wearing he caps, which are black with ”SD” in block letters, during the games or only during warmups. Both the Astros and Nationals wore them during Friday’s games.

MLB ordered more than 2,500 of the caps from New Era, league spokesman Steven Arrocho said. Many teams will have players sign them, and they will be auctioned to benefit the victims and families affected by the shooting.

Fitz-Gerald said it was a ”relief” to get back to the sport he loves and to stop thinking, at least for a moment, about the tragedy that befell his school. Fourteen students and three teachers were killed, and more than a dozen others were wounded. A former student is in custody on 17 counts of murder.

AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUES

ASTROS 3, NATIONALS 2

Mike Hauschild struck out three over the final two innings to give the defending world champions a win in their spring debut. Max Stassi homered off Jaron Long for Houston. Brady Dragmire took the loss for Washington after surrendering two earned runs in two innings of relief.

YANKEES 3, TIGERS 1

New Yankees manager Aaron Boone was a winner in his spring opener. Lefty Ryan Carpenter, signed to compete for the fifth starter spot, got the start for the Tigers, giving up a hit and issuing an eight-pitch walk to Giancarlo Stanton in two innings of work.

RAYS (SS) 6, ORIOLES 3

Yonny Chirinos worked two innings in his start and earned the win. Mike Wright got the start for the Orioles and took the loss. Manny Machado made his spring training debut at shortstop for the Orioles. Chance Sisko hit a three-run homer for Baltimore.

RED SOX 4, TWINS 3

Fernando Rodriguez worked two innings to get the win in relief of starter Hector Velazquez. Blake Swihart and Jeremy Barfield each doubled for Boston. Aaron Slegers worked two innings in the start for the Twins, striking out two. Ryan LaMarre drove in three runs for the Twins.

MARLINS 6, CARDINALS 4

Alex Wimmers picked up the win in relief and Javy Guerra worked the ninth for the save. Scott Van Slyke homered twice and drove in five runs for the Marlins. Jack Flaherty started for the Cards and struck out two over two innings. Kolton Wong doubled.

RAYS (SS) 6, PIRATES 3

Austin Pruitt worked an inning and a third in relief and earned the win, and Edwin Fiero gave up a hit in the ninth and earned the save. Kevin Kiermaier singled to drive in two runs and Brad Miller doubled home two more for the Rays. Austin Meadows doubled twice and singled to drive in two runs for the Pirates.

BLUE JAYS 2, PHILLIES 1

Curtis Granderson homered to right in his first at-bat as the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter, taking starter Nick Pivetta deep. Joe Biagini started for Toronto and gave up one hit and striking out two over two innings, and seven relievers scattered five hits and struck out eight. Pivetta gave up four hits and walked one in his two innings, striking out three. Mark Leiter worked two innings, striking out two and surrendering two hits. Danny Ortiz belted an eighth-inning homer.

METS 6, BRAVES 2

Zach Wheeler started and worked an inning in the Mets opener, striking out two and giving up a hit after new manager Mickey Callaway told reporters he would treat the right-hander as a starter. Hansel Robles worked a solid inning, striking out two and giving up a hit and Tyler Bashlor got the win in relief despite walking two and giving up a run in an inning of work. Matt Wisler started and worked two innings for the Braves, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Tigers sign Francisco Liriano

Tigers sign Francisco Liriano

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Tigers have signed Francisco Liriano to a one-year, $4 million contract.

Liriano split time between the Blue Jays and Astros last year, putting up a 5.66 ERA in 38 games, 18 of which were starts, striking out 85 and walking 53 in 97 innings. He pitched two-thirds on an inning in the World Series, but overall it was a pretty substandard season. But hey, those innings ain’t gonna eat themselves, and Liriano will eat some in Detroit.

Not to speak ill of him: he is almost certainly the second best Francisco Li- player in the division.

Starting Nine: Astros Spring Training

Starting Nine: Astros Spring Training

Spring Training is a full go now with the Astros playing in their first game this afternoon. So before play starts, I asked the TCB staff the following question regarding Spring Training.

What story line you are most looking forward to during Spring Training? Could be a player, a position, reigning champs, anything.

Astros Future

I mentioned it in my names to watch article but I will be paying close attention to Derek Fisher. While the Astros have Marwin, it appears the left field position will be an open one. Derek Fisher’s ceiling rivals that of Springer in a way. A guy with a solid power/speed combination who can also get on base.

Prior to the 2017 season, Fisher was ranked as the #83 prospect in baseball. After his tear to start the year in AAA he moved up to #54 per Baseball America. We saw glimpses of what he could do last year hitting the ball all over the field. Fisher will be 24 to start the season, the same age as Springer when he debuted in 2014.

If Fisher can become what many of us hope, it will just add another lethal left hand bat to an already great lineup. My hope is that Fisher takes over the left field spot and be a .260/.340/.440 type of guy with 20/20 potential. Also will be keeping an eye on the depth guys like White and Davis.

Jason Marbach

For me, the biggest storyline is going to be seeing how AJ Reed is going to be used…and how he’s going to perform. I’m working on a separate piece with more detail, but Reed finished 2017 on a superhuman tear and still didn’t receive a call-up in September, and I think that put a chip on his shoulder. Also, the news about Yuli moving around the field is huge, and implied to me that they’re trying to make more PA available for Reed, since he’s essentially a first base-only player.

Brian Stevenson

I want to see the prospects, in particular the pitchers who are nearly-MLB-ready. I can’t help but be a little antsy after the entire rotation exploded not far into the 2017 season. There are some guys who might be in the pen to start and could move to the rotation, but Musgrove is gone to Pittsburgh, Fiers to Detroit, and none of the prospects called up to pitch last year really established themselves. I want to see if someone looks like they could help early on if things go sideways again. Rogelio Armenteros is starting today’s spring opener, which is being broadcast on TV; my DVR is set.

Stephen Snydor

I’m actually looking forward to a few storylines aside from the most obvious one. (WS Champs taking the field)

1. Anthony Gose- Remember when the Astros acquired him in the Oswalt deal then immediately shipped him to Toronto for Brett Wallace?(or should I say Redhawks first basemen?) Well in a strange twist of fate, he’s with the team… as a pitcher. I doubt he stays with the club, but I thought I heard he can throw 100 MPH.

2. Brady Rodgers- If he had stayed healthy last year, we may have seen him start a few games. Remember that he was the 2016 PCL pitcher of the year. Now it’ll take a while until he sees game action, but this could mark the beginning of the end for him in Houston. There are a few players ahead of him. I’m curious to see if he becomes the Colin Moran type player. You know the guy who can contribute but because of a loaded roster has no place on the team? Also he’s an ASU alum, and I’m a bit biased towards them.

3. The pitching staff. So there’s 4 guys set in stone in the rotation right? Morton deserves the fifth but McHugh wants it. So there’s a pitchers battle.

Joshua Cookson

I’m excited to see what happens with the very few position battles the Astros have. To me that’s the last spot in the rotation (Morton, McHugh, Peacock), left handed bat (A.J. Reed) and left handed reliever (Sipp, Gose, the field). The left handed bat and left handed reliever are the two spots where I could see the Astros adding from outside the organization if they aren’t happy with the internal options. Personally I’m hoping Reed and Gose stand out this spring training and grab those spots.

Anthony Boyer

I don’t know that it’s necessarily a Spring Training-related thing, but I’m watching Jandel Gustave and Brady Rodgers, both of whom are coming off of Tommy John surgery. I expect Rodgers to do a stint in the minors in late May, early June, and to compete for a spot on the big league squad around the All-Star break. I believe Gustave is on roughly the same timeline.

These are two arms on the 40-man roster that we can basically count on to be “midseason pickups” to help the Astros down the stretch, so watching their arm strength during spring drills (they’re expected to do some “light throwing” and PFP) will give us some good early indications of what kind of shape they’re in. I still expect good things in particular out of Rodgers, who has shown remarkable tenacity as a pitcher.

Chris Perry

I am looking forward to seeing how Max Stassi looks at the plate. If he can hit well enough and if the coaching staff thinks his approach will carry into real major league action, then his inclusion on the 25-man roster could have far-reaching impact.

First, he probably represents a defensive upgrade over Evan Gattis behind the plate as a backup catcher. That would free Gattis up to be a more regular DH, which in turn could have impact on the playing time for multiple players. Derek Fisher would be forced into a true backup role, as Marwin Gonzalez would see more time in Left Field, with DH being less of an option to keep his bat in the lineup. This would make Fisher and Marisnick somewhat redundant. The situation would limit playing time of Tyler White, A.J. Reed, or J.D. Davis, if any of those three would even make the roster, with Stassi taking their spot.

An additional impact could be the Astros carrying one fewer reliever in the bullpen. The bullpen is already log-jammed with at least two established major leaguers possibly on the outside looking in out of Collin McHugh, Tony Sipp, Buddy Boshers, and Anthony Gose. Holding a third catcher could prevent a qualified reliever from even making the squad.

Not lost in all of this: if Stassi can hit well enough to provide league-average offense or better at the catcher position, then it has the potential to answer the question over who will replace McCann as the primary backstop in 2019. Far-reaching implications, indeed.

Clarence Johnson (Clack)

I will be watching how Tyler White and A.J. Reed perform in the spring. I view them both as guys who will have a career as ML players, but they are limited to 1b and DH. White may be able to get some random time at 3B, but the indication that Gurriel will play around the infield may limit that benefit. Also, the relief pitcher performances will be of high interest, particularly LHers (like Gose). Remember that Peacock was not widely regarded by fans prior to last spring, but made his name more well known after a great spring.

Joshua White

I’m probably most interested in the pitching this year. We’ve got a lot of starter talent, but not enough open spots, traditionally at least. Will the Astros experiment with an extended rotation? Will they have four confirmed starters and the fifth spot is a platoon? Heck, maybe they use the extra arms in more long relief roles to keep pitch counts down. Who knows, but it’ll be exciting.