08/16/07 2:37 AM ET
Notes: Top picks go unsigned
Club does not come to terms with Dietrich and Eibner
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Dietrich and Eibner, both recent high school graduates, will likely go with Plan B and attend college.
"I'm certainly disappointed," general manager Tim Purpura said. "They were two players we really wanted in our system. We had a lot of high hopes we would come to an agreement, and frankly I'm surprised that we weren't. All indications were that they wanted to play. Things change. Unfortunately, they did here. We wish them both well and good luck in their college careers."
Because the Astros signed free agents Woody Williams and Carlos Lee during the offseason, they did not have first and second round picks. The sticking point appears to have been differing interpretations regarding Dietrich's and Eibner's positions in the Draft.
In other words, Dietrich and Eibner may be third- and fourth-round picks, but because they were the Astros' first and second selections, the players are likely seeking first-and second-round money.
"We have offers both to third and fourth round picks that are perfectly within the market for the third and fourth round," Purpura said prior to the deadline.
Of the 42 players the Astros signed during the 2007 First-Year player draft, 34 signed. The unsigned players include Dietrich, Eibner, right-hander Chad Bettis (8th round), outfielder/left-hander Chad Jones (13th round), right-hander Matt Fitts (15th round), right-hander Robbie Weinhardt (38th round) outfielder Brian Fletcher (39th round) and left-hander Kyle Erdman (40th round).
Big test: Hunter Pence will take early hitting on the field at Dodger Stadium on Thursday in what he referred to as a "big test" to decide if he's ready to leave on a Minor League rehab assignment.
If he passes with flying colors -- meaning, no pain -- he could head to Corpus Christi to join the Double-A Hooks in a final tuneup before rejoining the Astros.
That is, weather permitting. A tropical storm is on its way to Texas, and it appears to be headed for the Corpus area. Also, Pence wasn't thrilled with his round of BP on Wednesday, which may delay his rehab schedule.
"We'll play it by ear," Purpura said. "Only if he comes through eveything perfect tomorrow. There's no reason to push him. He's made good progress.
"If it's not by the end of the week, maybe by the weekend. And if not by the weekend, then by the beginning of next week."
Pence will likely play between three and five games in the Minors.
Record setter: The 18th annual Black Ties and Baseball Caps Wives Gala broke two records last Thursday at Minute Maid Park, raising $700,000 and drawing a crowd of 700 people -- both all-time highs. All proceeds benefited the Houston Area Women's Center.
"Every single Astros wife is so lucky to have a loving, supportive husband, but unfortunately, that is not the case for every woman in our community," said Jill Borkowski, who co-chaired the event with Sara Burke. "We are so excited that this year's Astros Wives Gala raised the most money of any Gala to date, and we thank all of our underwriters and everyone who attended for being a part of our team and helping to end domestic and sexual violence in our community."
Setup man? It may be a bit too early to label lefty Mark McLemore as a setup option late in games, but manager Phil Garner has been pleased with what the rookie reliever has recently brought to the table.
"What I like is he's got a changeup that's an equalizer," Garner said. "His fastball, he's been pretty good about locating it. He's gotten behind a couple guys and he's been able to get back in the count and get them out. That's been good. I like the way he's competing so far."
Everett absent: Adam Everett flew to his home in Georgia on Tuesday to tend to personal business, and it's likely he will be away from the club for several days.
Everett, who has been on the disabled list for nearly two months with a broken leg, accompanied the team to the West Coast, but it's doubtful he'll rejoin them on this trip.
"I expect it to be several more days," Purpura said.
Biggio schedule: Craig Biggio was hoping to face Greg Maddux in San Diego this weekend, but because Maddux is scheduled to pitch the afternoon finale on Sunday, it's more likely Biggio will play Friday night instead.
Biggio has rarely played day games, especially since the second half of the season began. Although he altered his schedule in Los Angeles, it's likely he will return to his normal routine of playing the first game of each road series.
"I'll confirm that with him today," Garner said Wednesday.
Brad! Brad! Brad! Considering 90 feet separates Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus on a baseball field, Berkman had to keep his comments toward his teammates brief as he attempted to grab Ausmus' attention in the final moments of Tuesday's win over the Dodgers.
"You can't go into a lot of detail from that distance," Berkman said.
Berkman had noticed that Mark Sweeney was closer to second base than first as Ausmus caught Juan Pierre's pop in foul territory. Ausmus wasn't privy to the situation, so Berkman jumped up and down and screamed his name three times, prompting Ausmus to throw to first for the game-ending double play.
Berkman was on the winning end of this baserunning gaffe, but that hasn't always been the case, as the first baseman was quick to point out during batting practice Wednesday.
"I forget how many outs there are all the time," he said. "But never to end a game. Usually when I forgot how many outs there are we're on defense, so it's not that bad."
Separated at birth? As Chris Burke took the field in the late innings Tuesday night, he was somewhat surprised to see a split screen image on the giant scoreboard at Dodger Stadium. His picture was on the left, and on the right was a live shot of actor Rob Lowe, who was sitting in the stands for the Astros-Dodgers game.
Apparently, the ballpark entertainment staff saw a resemblance between the Houston second baseman and the Hollywood hunk. Burke was flattered, but he struggled to draw similarities.
"I'd say if I was [Lowe], I'd be a little upset," Burke said. "But I'll take it, certainly."
Coming up: The Astros and Dodgers will wrap up their four-game set on Thursday at Chavez Ravine, beginning at 9:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 4.34 ERA) will face right-hander Derek Lowe (8-11, 3.61 ERA).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.