09/18/10 7:30 PM ET
Synergy important in new Triple-A skipper
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Houston general manager Ed Wade said it's important to find a Triple-A manager who has a strong relationship and will share the same philosophies as the Major League manager. No one understands this more than Astros manager Brad Mills, who spent six years as a Triple-A manager.
"I was in very close contact with the manager and tried to do everything he did, and that's one of the reasons the Triple-A manager and the coaching staff stays at the Major League level in Spring Training with the Major League staff for so long, so they can take a look and see how they're teaching," he said.
Mills said it's important for the Triple-A players to instill tactics, such as running routes or throwing to the cutoff man, like the players would be prepared to do at the Major League level, regardless of the dimensions of the Minor League park.
Also, players who are hitting in the thick of the order in Triple-A might have a future in the Major Leagues hitting lower in the order, making it important that they learn how to hit behind runners, be adept at hit-and-runs and be able to bunt.
"There's going to be different things asked of that hitter at the Major League than would be asked at the Triple-A level," Mills said. "He still has to able to do a lot of those things."
Bourn living up to Gold Glove billing
HOUSTON -- Now that he's won a Gold Glove, Astros center fielder Michael Bourn figures to be in line to win a few more. And he's certainly had another Gold Glove-caliber season with his usual assortment of head-turning, running-and-diving catches.
"Yeah, man, I don't see why not," Bourn said when asked if he thought he could win another Gold Glove. "That's not my decision, but I always take pride in my defense. That's something I try to work on and get better at. I feel like defense is a big part of the game, as far as all-around performance. Most teams that win, they have pretty good defense in the middle of the field."
Bourn has been blessed with terrific speed, but he works hard at his craft. He studies hitters to make sure he's lined up in the best spot possible for each batter, cutting down the time it takes him to close in on a ball.
"I try to be in a position where I don't have to dive all the time," he said. "I like to make the catch without even having to dive, even though there are times I'm going to have to. The more I learn about the hitter, the more I get in the spot where he is mostly likely going to hit the ball."
Last year, Bourn became the first Astros outfielder to win a Gold Glove since Cesar Cedeno's five-season streak from 1972-76.
Bruised shin not slowing down Norris
HOUSTON -- Right-hander Bud Norris will make his next scheduled start on Monday in Washington against the Nationals despite his left shin being extremely bruised and slightly swollen. Norris took a ball off the shin in the first inning of his previous start Tuesday against the Brewers.
"I've got three more [starts], so I'm going to do whatever I can to make them," said Norris, who's 6-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 15 starts since coming off the disabled list in June.
Norris, who threw without problem in the bullpen Friday, had the shin tightly wrapped on Saturday to reduce pain and swelling. He said the area was "tender, all black and blue and ugly." The trick now for Norris is to try to keep the area free of aggravation.
"I just need to not hit it walking around the house or something," he said.
Norris has a 3.61 ERA in his past 10 starts, during which the Astros have gone 9-1.
Managing playing time a challenge for Mills
HOUSTON -- With 34 players on his active roster for the final two weeks of the season, including 12 relief pitchers, Astros manager Brad Mills has found it rather challenging trying to get everyone as much playing time as he would like.
"That might be one of the drawbacks of calling guys up," Mills said.
Mills was waiting for the right opportunity to get left-hander Wesley Wright into a game for the first time since he was recalled Sept. 1. Outfielder/first baseman Brian Bogusevic has nine at-bats and one start since Sept. 1, and infielder Anderson Hernandez has played sparingly.
"We're very cognizant of the fact Wesley Wright needs to get out here and pitch," Mills said. "Those things are very important."
The Astros' roster is especially fat on the middle infield, with Hernandez, Geoff Blum, Matt Downs, Jeff Keppinger and Angel Sanchez all capable of playing second base or shortstop. Tommy Manzella is also a shortstop.
Brian Esposito, a career Minor Leaguer who was called up as an emergency catcher, entered Saturday awaiting his first Major League at-bat. Mills also has four left-handers in the bullpen.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.