Newhan released by Astros
Veteran irked by exclusion from backup-infielder competition
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros trimmed two players from their roster Sunday morning when they released infielder David Newhan and reassigned Chad Paronto to Minor League camp.
Primarily a second baseman, Newhan was not viewed by manager Cecil Cooper as a candidate for the backup infielder job. Cooper wants a utility infielder who is strong at shortstop, and while Newhan was hoping to receive an audition at that position this spring, Cooper was not receptive.
Asked if he was surprised by the release, Newhan said, "Not really."
"The only way Coop's really communicated is through you guys [reporters]. I'm not blind. It's just unfortunate ... they talked about having a shortstop the whole time. I wish I had gotten a chance to at least screw that up. I never really got that opportunity."
Newhan originally thought he would get a look at shortstop, until he read an article on MLB.com that quoted Cooper saying Newhan was seventh in the pecking order of potential shortstops. Cooper also indicated in that article that Newhan likely would not see playing time at short this spring.
"That's kind of the way they communicated that," Newhan said. They made it clear I was not a fit here, and the guys they have in Triple-A are going to have to play."
Cooper said the conversation with Newhan was one of his most difficult, because of how he feels about Newhan personally. That said, Cooper was up front with the fact that Newhan was not in his plans for 2009.
"I need a shortstop," Cooper said. "We said that in the winter time and we talked about it when we got down here, and we expressed that we need a shortstop. Those two guys, [Jason] Smith and [Edwin] Maysonet, both play short, and Newhan's never been a shortstop and never played shortstop. The guy did a great job for us last year -- a good pinch-hitter, a great teammate, all of that. It just didn't fit."
Newhan, 35, hit .206 [7-for-34) this spring. He played in 19 games.
Paronto was having one of the better springs of any Astros relief pitcher before he was sidelined with a strained right shoulder. Over seven appearances spanning 10 innings, he allowed three earned runs, walked one and struck out 10. Paronto will join the bullpen in Round Rock.
"We just told him, 'Look, we have a set bullpen here," Cooper said. "'You go over there and work, we'll keep you on a one, two inning kind of deal. We're going to need pitchers this summer, you know that. Stay healthy and stay ready.'"
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.