UPDATE — We’ve got a story going up on the site shortly, co-written by Alyson Footer of Astros.com and myself, that basically goes over everything. Backe and Pujols have some history, so there’s no doubt that played into what happened. It seems to me that for MOST people involved in this deal, it’s more or less over.
Weird sequence at Minute Maid Park this afternoon. Evidently at least some Astros folks were unhappy about Pujols’ slide into J.R. Towles at home plate last night. According to Towles, Pujols called after the game yesterday to apologize, and from talking to Towles, it definitely seemed that he at least had no hard feelings.
TLR said he didn’t even think twice about the slide, but that Towles needed to be sure to give guys a bigger piece of the plate to slide into. Towles said he believes he allows plenty of room. Then Pujols refused to discuss it at all in the clubhouse.
So basically it seemed to be more or less over. And then as the Astros were leaving the field after BP, some kind of disagreement arose between guys in the two different shades of red. I was up in the press box, unfortunately, but it was very clear through binocs that Brandon Backe was extremely displeased about something, and the guy who seemed to be on the receiving end of his ire was Pujols.
It didn’t escalate into anything, stayed with about six guys in one spot, and certainly didn’t move past words into anything physical, but Backe was clearly extremely unhappy. The Astros ‘clubhouse is closed at this minute, so the Houston scribes can’t get in to hear the home team’s side of things. And Pujols is in the midst of BP; odds of getting him to say anything before the game starts are virtually nil.
Anyway, other pregame tidbits, or as TLR says, the baseball and not the BS.
* Joel Pineiro got here from New Orleans today, did his running and feels he’s ready for his next start to be a big league start. But according to TLR, the decision has not yet been made and may not be made until tomorrow. Thompson is listed as the Sunday pitcher in the game notes, but I’m told that doesn’t really mean anything.
* Cesar Izturis got the day off, with Aaron Miles at SS.
* Adam Wainwright headed out early, getting an earlier flight to San Francisco rather than waiting for the charter. He left the ballpark around 4 pm rather than flying in the middle of the night for his start tomorrow.
* TLR said they have a plan for what to do with the rotation after Monday’s off day, but didn’t divulge it. They could bump Wainwright up to go on his regular fifth day, or give everybody the extra day of rest.
* STL lineup: Schumaker RF, Duncan LF, Pujols 1B, Ankiel CF, Glaus 3B, Kennedy 2B, Molina C, Looper P, Miles SS
* HOU lineup: Bourn CF, Pence RF, Berkman 1B, Lee LF, Tejada SS, Blum 3B, Loretta 2B, Towles C, Sampson P
Greetings from Houston, where it’s warm, humid and hazy, and where the music is good but loud (Shiny Toy Guns, very nice).
* Mark Mulder will throw another extended spring training game tomorrow, and after that, he could begin a proper rehabilitation assignment with the next game after that. So that would be Monday, April 14, and from there he’d have a 30-day rehab clock.
* Skip Schumaker is back in the lineup and leading off, as expected.
* Jason LaRue is in at catcher, as Molina gets a day off — TLR just said “it’s a good game for LaRue to play.” LaRue and Thompson have seemed to work well together in spring and in Thompson’s first start, so that’s very likely the main factor. Both guys are 1-for-4 vs Chacon.
* STL lineup: Schumaker RF, Duncan LF, Pujols 1B, Ankiel CF, Glaus 3B, Kennedy 2B, LaRue C, Thompson P, Izturis SS
* HOU lineup: Bourn CF, Pence RF, Berkman 1B, Lee LF, Tejada SS, Blum 3B, Loretta 2B, Towles C, Chacon P
New Order, “Sub-Culture”
Chemical Brothers, “The Private Psychedelic Reel”
Duran Duran, “Careless Memories”
Nirvana, “Heart Shaped Box”
Depeche Mode, “Barrel of a Gun”
Happy Opening Day, Houston style.
After a couple of days off, I’m somewhat refreshed; Peet’s coffee at the airport and a Whataburger certainly helped in that regard too. It’s a really nice day in Houston; it’s possible that for once the roof won’t be needed.
* Chris Duncan is back in the lineup, batting sixth; TLR and Duncan both said they see no restrictions on him
* Cesar Izturis is the leadoff man for the first time this year
* Ryan Ludwick was amused when it was pointed out to him that he’s leading the National League in triples; it’s up on the big video board in right field here.
* TLR said they’ll wait till after Pineiro pitches tomorrow to make a judgment on what happens with him. I specifically asked whether there’s a chance he’d take one more rehab even if he looks good, so as to help them better decide whom to remove. He declined to answer that, just saying they’ll wait till after tomorrow to make any decision.
–UPDATE– Pineiro will pitch for Memphis, at New Orleans, rather than at home for Springfield on Tuesday. Evidently there are weather concerns in Springfield.
* Lineup: Izturis SS, Ankiel CF, Pujols 1B, Glaus 3B, Ludwick RF, Duncan LF, Molina C, Wellemeyer P, Miles 2B.
It’s chilly; 49 right now and dropping as the evening goes on. But it appears that whatever clouds are here will be moving on, and there’s no threat to the game.
* Joel Pineiro showed up in the clubhouse today. He’s done with the Florida portion of his rehab. He’ll go to Springfield for a Tuesday rehab start, and he hopes that his next game would be in the big leagues — his next turn would fall Sunday 4/13, at the end of the road trip.
* Chris Duncan is getting closer but still not in the lineup. TLR said he wouldn’t have been in against Odalis Perez anyway.
* Brian Barton gets his first start, in the leadoff spot and left field. That leaves Rico Washington as the only hitter who has not started a game.
* Conventional wisdom seems to be that John Lannan will start Sunday for the Nationals, but as of now they still have not announced a starter for that game.
* STL lineup: Barton LF; Ankiel CF; Pujols 1B; Glaus 3B; Ludwick RF; Molina C; Izturis SS; Looper P; Miles 2B.
* WAS lineup: Guzman SS, Milledge CF, Zimmerman 3B, Johnson 1B, Kearns RF, Lo Duca C, Belliard 2B, Lopez LF, Perez LHP.
* The Kooks, “Naive”
* Tanya Donnelly, “New England”
* Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”
* REM, “Living Well is the Best Revenge”
* Foo Fighters, “New Way Home”
* Chris Duncan is out of the lineup again, though he was scheduled to take batting practice in the cage, which is a step forward.
* At most five relievers are available. Reyes, Villone and Flores are available and will be asked to do the bulk of the work. Franklin and Isringhausen are both available if needed to close out a win; I’d guess Izzy is more available than Franklin, but he did get up several times last night. Thompson may have to take one for the team if it’s going poorly.
* Today’s lineup: Schumaker LF, Miles 2B, Pujols 1B, Ankiel CF, Glaus 3B, Ludwick RF, LaRue C, Thompson P, Izturis SS.
* Colorado lineup: Spilborghs CF, Tulowitzki SS, Helton 1B, Holliday LF, Atkins 3B, Hawpe RF, Baker 2B, Iannetta C, Jimenez P.
* Right now there are a few drops of rain, but nothing serious at all. The tarp is not on the field, which is encouraging. The forecast can be found here, but in short it appears that if this thing gets delayed, it’s bad news. Looks like it should be fine early, getting worse late, so once it stops, it’s probably stopped for good.
* Opening Day in the Minors today. Starting pitchers Mike Parisi (Memphis), PJ Walters (Springfield), Tyler Herron (Palm Beach), and Shaun Garceau (Quad Cities).
* Chris Duncan is out today with a sore left hamstring. Evidently he felt it last night but played through it, but they’ve decided to be cautious and give him the day off.
* TLR says Franklin looks fine to him, though Franklin said last night he’s a little off.
* Glaus is batting fourth, with Ankiel fifth, because of Glaus’ numbers against Aaron Cook — 5-for-9 with 4 XBH.
* STL lineup: Schumaker LF, Ludwick RF, Pujols 1B, Glaus 3B, Ankiel CF, Molina C, Kennedy 2B, Wellemeyer P, Izturis SS.
* COL lineup: Taveras CF, Tulowitzki SS, Helton 1B, Holiday LF, Atkins 3B, Hawpe RF, Torrealba C, Nix 2B, Cook P.
Here’s the news from the ballpark today. Hopefully I can re-publish my typelists, and also find out where to get my usual text color.
* They will stick with the original rotation, with Looper pitching Friday and Wainwright coming back on full rest on Saturday.
* Nothing really noteworthy in the lineup today: Schumaker RF, Duncan LF, Pujols 1B, Ankiel CF, Glaus 3B, Molina C, Kennedy 2B, Lohse P, Izturis SS. That’s pretty much how it’s going to look most days against RHP.
* The weather is nice enough if plenty chilly, and we’ll get a game in tonight.
-M, listening to the new REM.