As rosters expand, Astros take it slow
Wade doesn't add freely, but Boone, Brocail returning
For the most part, Astros general manager Ed Wade hasn't been a fan of recalling players when rosters can be expanded Sept. 1 without having a specific role in mind for them when they join the Major League club.
Even though the Astros are pretty much out of playoff contention entering the final month of the season, don't expect to see a bunch of additional bodies in the dugout.
"As best as possible, I would like to limit it to players who are going to get a chance to contribute," Wade said. "It doesn't mean there might not be a player or two here for atmospheric reasons, to learn about the big leagues a little bit, but by and large I don't believe in using September as rewards.
"You start talking about [accruing] 30 days of big league service time and everything else that comes with it. As excited as players are to get promoted to the big leagues in September, when they get here and don't play, I'm not sure they're quite as enthralled as they thought they would be."
Wade said infielder Aaron Boone and relief pitchers Doug Brocail and Wesley Wright, all of whom are on the disabled list and rehabbing in the Minors, would rejoin the club Tuesday in Chicago, but the cramped Wrigley Field clubhouse is no place for an expanded roster.
Wade then expects to add a couple of players when the team returns home to face Philadelphia on Friday, and the rest of the callups will arrive after Triple-A Round Rock ends its season Sept. 7.
The Astros currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster, and the remaining spot will go to Boone when he's activated from the 60-day disabled list. Boone, who underwent open-heart surgery in March, was expected to join the team this weekend in Arizona before being activated Tuesday.
Brocail and Wright, both of whom are on the 15-day disabled list, will be activated Tuesday if they progress as expected. Wade expects to add more pitching, which could mean Polin Trinidad could get his first taste of the Majors.
But the composition of the 40-man roster plays a big role in which players get September calls.
"There are probably going to be players that in other seasons would get opportunities to be here, but because of the fact we're limited to 40 men on the roster, some of those players may not get the opportunity they think they deserve," Wade said.
Catcher J.R. Towles, who recently returned from the disabled list at Round Rock, is on the roster and almost assured of getting called up as a third catcher. Another player the Astros are strongly considering is shortstop Tommy Manzella, and right-hander Chris Sampson, who spent most of the year with the Major League team, also could get recalled.
Manzella could start at shortstop next year, but Wade said Miguel Tejada and the other regular veterans will get the bulk of the playing time in September. Third-base prospect Chris Johnson isn't on the 40-man roster.
"We want to win as many games as we can," Wade said. We're committed to a lot of veteran players here, guys who have gone out there and battled for us all season long. I think they deserve the opportunities to continue to play.
"Can you find out some things about younger players in September? To some extent, but I've also been told by a lot of sage, veteran baseball people, 'Don't be fooled by what you see in Spring Training and don't be fooled by what you see in September.'
"The players will be here to contribute when called upon, but my expectation is the bulk of the playing time will continue to go to the players who have gone out there and produced for us all season long."
Catcher Jason Castro, the club's top prospect who's hitting better than .300 at Double-A Corpus Christi, isn't going to be with the Astros in September. He's not on the 40-man roster and he's going to be in Europe next month representing the United States in baseball's World Cup.