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ASTROS NOTES: Jennings makes strides

ASTROS NOTES: Jennings makes strides

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

In a key step in his recovery from elbow tendinitis, Astros righthander Jason Jennings threw a bullpen session off the mound and integrated some breaking pitches for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list.

"Just trying to get command back and get the feel of it back and throwing where I want to," Jennings said. "I'll see how I feel (today) and Tuesday, but (Sunday) was pretty good. I can't be disappointed, I guess.

"It's frustrating when your command is not there, but I haven't thrown a breaking ball in two weeks, so I don't expect it to be real good right now."

Jennings is probably at least a week away from coming off the DL.

"It's a waiting game and something I'm not going to rush, because I don't want to go back on the DL," he said.

Lee has green light
Manager Phil Garner has no problem with letting slugger Carlos Lee attempt to steal a base like he did in the second inning Saturday. Lee was caught stealing easily and is 2-for-4 on stolen-base attempts this year.

Despite packing what's listed as 240 pounds into his large 6-2 frame, Lee was 19-for-21 last year trying to steal.

"He might get thrown out a few times," Garner said, "but if he steals 20 out of 25, that's still pretty good, and I'll take that.

"A good base stealer is going to get thrown out. (If) they're picking the wrong time to run — like we're down five runs, and they keep getting caught — then I have to stop it."

Death a blow to Everett

The death of St. Louis Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock hit close to home for Astros shortstop Adam Everett, who was Hancock's roommate in 1998 at rookie-league Lowell, Mass., when both were with Boston.

"You never know how valuable life is until it's gone," Everett said. "Every time we see each other when we play each other, he always gives me this little smirk and whatnot and always gives me a head nod. You're going to miss that. He's always going to be in my memories because of us coming up together with the Red Sox."

Everett learned of Hancock's death from teammate Jason Lane, who has the same agent as Hancock.

"He was a fun guy. That's for sure," Everett said. "He enjoyed life, and that's pretty much the way he was. He was easygoing and didn't let too much faze him."

All in good fun

Chris Sampson and Hunter Pence, both of whom got their first major league hits Saturday, fell victim to a prank by teammates in which they were made to believe the ball used to get each hit was defaced.

"There were (drawings) of fans in the stands doing the wave and something about the 'Big Puma' (Lance Berkman)," Sampson said. "I was like, 'What did y'all do to the ball?' They gave me the real ball afterward. It was pretty good fun. They got me."

Pence was tricked, too.

"They had the date wrong, and then they crossed it out," Pence said. "They put 'Hunter Pence's first hit, a Texas Leaguer over the first baseman,' and they put, 'What's Rocket going to do?' on there.

"I really thought that was the ball. I thought that was just a tradition."

Attendance watch
• Sunday: 37,114.
• 2007 total (11 games): 410,009.
• 2006 total (11 games): 345,033.
• Ahead: 64,976.
• 2007 average: 37,274.
• 2006 average: 31,367.

By the numbers
• 1 — Home run hit by the Astros over the past six games.
• 7.33 — Average number of runners left on base by the Astros this year. The club record is 7.73 per game in 1999.

Did you know?
Hunter Pence and Chris Sampson were the first Astros to get their first major league hits in the same game since Brian Williams and Scooter Tucker on June 16, 1992.

Coming up

The Astros will take today off before opening a three-game home series against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
Bstros is offline  

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