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News » Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2008-05-30

Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2008-05-30

Houston Astros Notes, Quotes 2008-05-30
--LHP Wandy Rodriguez, who gives haircuts to underprivileged children in his hometown of Bonao, Dominican Republic, offered free haircuts to some very rich clients Thursday afternoon. He gave trims to Jose Valverde, Miguel Tejada, J.R. Towles and third base coach Ed Romero.

"I'm tired," he said with a smile. "My salon was full. Towles, it was just to clean the back of his neck. It's free for my friends. First it was Valverde, then Towles, Romero and then I closed the shop after Tejada."

--Astros manager Cecil Cooper, a former Milwaukee Brewers star, will visit Friday morning with baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Cooper and Selig have a tight bond dating back to the days when Cooper played in Milwaukee while Selig owned the Brewers.

"He's been pretty special to me," Cooper said. "I talked to him like that when I was a player. I used to go in his office and sit and visit. He's always been pretty open and down to earth."

--RHP Chris Sampson, the former starter who was dropped to the bullpen on Tuesday, was available to pitch Thursday for the second consecutive day. Manager Cecil Cooper hopes Sampson can help the Astros bridge the gap between the starters and setup man Doug Brocail and closer Jose Valverde.

"He might be a guy if we're leading after six and we need to get an inning to get to those two guys (Brocail and Valverde)," Cooper said of Sampson. "He may be the guy.

"If he pitches one or two innings a day, then if we turn around tomorrow and we have to go to someone else, that's probably when we have to go hopefully to Oscar (Villarreal) or someone like Wesley (Wright) to get us there."

--For the second day in a row, the Astros gave a minor league contract to a veteran reliever. LHP Ray King, who has been with two other organizations this year, signed with the Astros on Thursday and will join Class AAA Round Rock on Saturday.

King, 34, was released by the Chicago White Sox on May 20 after four appearances with Class AAA Charlotte. He made 12 relief appearances in April for the Washington Nationals, compiling a 5.68 ERA while giving up four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

--RHP Dave Borkowski, who was designated for assignment Wednesday, has accepted his assignment to Class AAA Round Rock after clearing waivers.

Borkowski, 31, was 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA this season with the Astros.

--After beginning a span of five consecutive Mondays off this week, Cecil Cooper admits that it will be more difficult to find playing time for his backup players while most of starters are relatively healthy. Other than Brad Ausmus, the other backups -- Geoff Blum, Jose Cruz Jr., Darin Erstad and Mark Loretta -- aren't guaranteed the at-bats Cooper would like to give them.

"That was my thinking as I was working out today, walking: 'How do I get my guys in?' because it's starting to stretch out now," Cooper said. "Off days and everybody is healthy. Guys are swinging well. How do I find time now, you know? It's going to be a little difficult now.

"But it's kind of a good problem to have. That's a good problem to have. You'd like to get those guys four at-bats a week. I got three, four, five of them. (Brad) Ausmus kind of gets his because he's catching. But the other four with the lineup being the way it is pretty regular, it's hard to do it. Then the off days make it even tougher."

--RHP Brandon Backe (4-5, 4.19 ERA) will make his 12th start of the season Friday in Milwaukee. He is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in his career against the Brewers, including 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA this year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 -- Consecutive outings closer Jose Valverde went without scoring a run. The streak was snapped Friday against the Phillies when Valverde was hit in the cheek by a Pedro Feliz line drive and managed to stay in the game and get the save, but not without giving up two runs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I flubbed up. I thought (Miguel) Tejada was saying 'Bring it to second,' and the next thing I know I was thinking, 'Please hit (Pedro Feliz) in the back of the helmet at least.' Honestly, I thought we were going to extra innings or I was going to get booed like a banshee." -- Astros pitcher Doug Brocail, on Saturday after throwing the ball into center field in the ninth inning when no teammate was covering second base.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 30, 2008

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