Astros look to move past Chacon ordeal
Cooper confident veterans will guide team through distraction
HOUSTON -- Pitcher Shawn Chacon may be off the Astros' roster, but there are still 25 players remaining in the Houston clubhouse dealing with the effects of Chacon's blowup on Wednesday.
While the management and staff can do damage control with the media and, to an extent, its players, those athletes are still largely responsible for the way they handle the recent debacle.
Some players, such as veteran Mark Loretta, who have been on other teams and seen other tempers flare, are used to the drama.
"The more you play the more things you see," the second baseman said. "It's an emotional game. The thing is players have very short memories. You have to in this game. We go through adversity in and out of the clubhouse sometimes and being the professional players we are, we don't take it onto the field with us. You move forward."
Others, such as second-year outfielder Hunter Pence, have not experienced an incident like this in professional baseball but have still seen tempers flare being on teams since they were kids.
"Sometimes things happen, but I've been through a lot worse," Pence said. "It's a bigger deal they're making out of it than it is. But for me, I don't pay attention that stuff. I just worry about who's on the field and trying to win the ballgame."
Regardless of experience, the Astros have bonded together to support each other in the aftermath of Wednesday's physical altercation between Chacon and general manager Ed Wade.
After Wade held a team meeting following the incident to talk about putting everything in the past and to focus on playing, the players held a private meeting of their own.
"It was just, 'Let's move forward. Something happened that was unfortunate, so let's put it behind us as soon as we can,'" Loretta said. "That's easier said than done, but that's it."
Astros manager Cecil Cooper said he is confident the veteran players will be able to guide the team through the controversy.
He said he told the players in the meeting that they had to continue to play well, and the only way they could do that was to put the incident behind them.
"They talked about being professional and that those kinds of things shouldn't be happening," Cooper said. "In our club they haven't happened in the past, and we're not going to tolerate it here. We have a good staff, we have great front-office support, and we have tremendous players, guys that have a lot of respect for themselves and for the game."
Pitcher Roy Oswalt said Chacon felt a lot of emotion about being sent to the bullpen. He said that emotion just got the better of him at the wrong time and that if Chacon had been thinking more clearly, the altercation never would have happened.
He said he hopes Chacon will get a chance to play again in the future.
"I think the biggest thing is that he thought he was singled out," Oswalt said. "I think it was more that they were looking for another answer. The staff hasn't been doing great as a whole. They were trying to find something to maybe spark something somewhere, and he was the one they moved. Maybe he just took it too personal."
Oswalt also said he could understand why Chacon could be so upset. Pitchers seem to take on most of the responsibilities for a team's success or failure.
"It's a grind every day," he said. "If we don't pitch well, it's our fault; if we do pitch well and don't win it's still our fault. We're the ones with the wins and losses. I think a lot of time it gets to people different ways."
Oswalt said he takes every loss hard even if he is not on the mound and often loses sleep at night when a loss is his fault. He said he hopes people do not judge Chacon on one bad decision.
Loretta said Chacon's outburst is not indicative of any uneasiness on the team. Everyone else, he said, is getting along just fine despite the team's recent losses.
"I wouldn't make this into something bigger than it is," he said. "It doesn't speak to a lack of control or anarchy. We're not at each other's throats in here. We're not going crazy. Coop hasn't lost control of the team; Ed hasn't lost control over the team. We're pulling for each other, and we know we can play better."
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.