Notes: Astros looking for answers
Notes: Astros looking for answers
GM Purpura says team is capable of playing better baseball
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Six-game losing streaks often spark plenty of closed-door meetings, and it's safe to assume manager Phil Garner wasn't taking a cat nap in his office in the hours leading up to batting practice on Friday.
Undoubtedly, Garner and general manager Tim Purpura are keeping in close contact as they try to figure out what's wrong with the team, and how it can be fixed.
Asked if he was frustrated, or mad, or hopeful about what's going on with the Astros these days, Purpura answered, "Yes. All of the above."
"It is frustrating," he said. "We're not playing good. We have a better team than the way we're playing. You can make a lot of excuses, but none adequately describe the way you feel. We have to play better baseball. We're capable of playing better baseball."
Purpura didn't sound like a man on the verge of shaking up the team, but he did acknowledge that every player on the current roster has been discussed, as well as those waiting in the wings at Triple-A Round Rock. And yes, outfielder Hunter Pence's name has come up.
"And it will continue to come up," Purpura said. "Hunter got off to a slow start, but probably the best news I've gotten out of Hunter is he's learned how to make adjustments pretty quickly at that level, which is a very good sign."
Through Thursday's games, Pence was hitting .325 with nine doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs over 21 games.
"He's a talented player," Purpura said. "I said in Spring Training, he's going to be here at some point. I don't know when."
Making progress: Jason Jennings threw 40 pitches -- all fastballs -- off the mound on Friday and if he recovers well from that, he'll increase the total to 50 or 60 pitches on Sunday. He's also hoping he'll be able to mix in a few breaking balls during that session.
Jennings, who has been on the disabled list since April 9, still has no timetable for when he may return but he's hoping that he won't have to first make a Minor League rehab start before he can return to the Astros.
"I don't know what their policy is here," he said. "I don't know that I want to waste any bullets on a Minor League game if I feel confident and the trainers and coaches feel confident. It was painful my first two starts and I was still getting results. I was still getting those chances to win those games. I'll assume that if I'm feeling good, I can go out and do the same thing."
Talks tabled: Purpura and Jennings' agent, Casey Close, decided during Spring Training to table all contract talks regarding the soon-to-be free agent pitcher until after the season.
"We said in Spring Training there was no urgency to get anything done," Purpura said. "We said at that point that if we get to the season, there's no reason to negotiate in the season. We can always wait until the season is over. Neither side felt any compel to push it."
Said Jennings: "What it boils down to is it's not in my control. I trust my agent if there are talks that are going on. I'd rather not be in the middle of it. I'm concentrating on getting healthy and doing my job when I get back."
Cortisone shot: Woody Williams had never had a cortisone shot in his career, until recently, when he received an injection in his right elbow after his most recent start on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Williams had been dealing with discomfort in his elbow since Spring Training, and finally decided a shot was the best course of action to erase the remnants of his past ailment.
"It's been in the back of my mind," he said. "Even though the last start the results were a little bit better, I felt like I was still a little short on where I need to be. I was trying to get through it without having to do it, but I figured as good a time as any is right now."
Williams is on schedule to start Sunday's series finale with the Brewers.
Gifts for Woody: Williams, a proud Houstonian and even prouder University of Houston alum, was surprised to find a crush of paraphanalia from his alma mater waiting for him at his locker when he arrived to the clubhouse on Friday.
The mish-mosh of goodies included UH T-shirts, hats, pennants, sweatshirt and a silver flask -- all sitting in a UH laundry basket.
Also included was an oversized card, signed by dozens of UH fans. Williams wasn't sure who the signees were, but he chuckled at one message:
"Tell that guy from Rice to go get some hits."
No time to rest: Stephen Randolph arrived at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Sunday with little to no time to prepare for his first Major League game of the year, after being called up from Triple-A late the night before.
That's probably a good thing. On such short notice, Randolph barely had time to absorb where he was when Garner called on him in the eighth inning.
Randolph faced one batter, striking out Nate McLouth.
"It was good to get in there and get that first one out of the way," Randolph said. "I always hear them talking about guys who that happens to and it happened to me yesterday, and I think that was a good thing."
Coming up: The Astros will host the Brewers on Saturday for the second game of the three-game weekend set. Gametime is set for 6:05 p.m. CT and will feature right-hander Chris Sampson (2-1, 4.26) and Brewers righty Dave Bush (2-1, 5.04).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.