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News » Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29
--Manager Cecil Cooper, who had been tremendously frustrated while the Astros went on a 19-game winless streak, made a surprising prediction after Houston began winning.

"We should win 90 games," Cooper said. "They're not thinking that we're going to win anything or be anywhere. "We're going to be in the lower rung of our division (according to predictions). I don't believe that."

--SS Miguel Tejada was sentenced to a year's probation, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service on March 26 for lying to congressional investigators.

--LHP Wandy Rodriguez will start a minor league game March 28 on short rest to put him in line to start the second game of the season April 7 against the Cubs. Rodriguez has battled an intercostal strain and a bruised left index finger this spring.

--RHP Russ Ortiz threw five strong innings March 25 to remain atop the race for the fifth spot in the Astros rotation.

"There were certain times when I just had to take more time to take a deep breath and see if it would pass for a little bit," Ortiz said after giving up one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. "I'd come into the dugout and feel a little better, and then as soon as I finished my warm-up pitches, then I'd feel it again."

--C Ivan Rodriguez has been a tremendous asset since joining the Astros and playing for the first time with the team on March 20. He's definitely shown his leadership skills.

"We're playing much, much better," manager Cecil Cooper said. "I think it means a lot to have Pudge (Rodriguez) around. I'm not going to only say Pudge. I'll say (Miguel) Tejada. ... They're always yelling and getting us going. Pudge seems to have given us a lot more confidence. We're pitching the ball better, and for the most part we're catching it better. That makes for a pretty good game when you're doing that."

--Manager Cecil Cooper hopes his starters raise their pitch counts over the final week of spring training.

"That's a nice number to see them at, 80 to 85," he said, "because they're each going to get at least one, maybe two starts. Everybody's healthy with the exception of (RHP Chad) Paronto."

Paronto was day-to-day due to a sore right shoulder.

--The two main competitions in spring remain between Jason Smith and Edwin Maysonet for the utility infield spot and RHPs Russ Ortiz and Jose Capellan for the fifth spot in the rotation. Ortiz is the tremendous favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation, just as Humberto Quintero is the strong favorite to be Ivan Rodriguez's backup.

"Competition is stepping up," manager Cecil Cooper said. "There's two guys competing for an infield spot, they're stepping up. The two pitchers both have stepped up."

J.R. Towles, a candidate for the backup catching job, was optioned to Class AAA Round Rock on March 27. Towles, who hit .182 this spring, saw his chances of making the team diminish when Ivan Rodriguez signed with Houston earlier this month.

BY THE NUMBERS: 90 -- Manager Cecil Cooper has predicted the Astros will win at least 90 games this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Of course I'm a great Drayton McLane fan. He's been a wonderful friend to me and to my family." -- Former President George H.W. Bush, on the Astros team owner. Bush visited the Astros on March 23-24.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 29, 2009

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