09/02/12 2:59 PM ET
Astros honor Hamilton on his 85th birthday
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Hamilton, who has announced that 2012 will be his final season calling games, was honored on the field during a pregame ceremony that included a cake and a special presentation. The first 10,000 fans attending Sunday's game received a Hamilton bobblehead.
In addition, the Astros honored Hamilton by inducting him into the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor. He's the sixth inductee into the Wall of Honor, joining media pioneer Anita Martini, who was the inaugural inductee in 2007; former Astros radio broadcaster Gene Elston, '08; former Houston Chronicle writers Neil Hohlfeld, '09, and Mickey Herskowitz, '10; and Astros television announcer Bill Brown, '11.
This year marks Hamilton's 55th season as a Major League broadcaster, which is second all-time to Dodgers legend and Hall of Famer Vin Scully, who is in his 63rd season. Hamilton has been the radio voice of the Astros since 1985.
In 1992, Hamilton earned the ultimate honor for broadcasting excellence when he received the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Laird excited for opportunity with Astros
HOUSTON -- Infielder Brandon Laird, who was claimed off waivers by the Astros from the Yankees on Saturday, joined his new club Sunday at Minute Maid Park and was eager for a fresh start.
"I'm excited," said Laird, who will wear No. 13. "Anyway you can go out and play and help the team, I'm going to do it."
Laird, 24, has played primarily at third and first base in his professional career, though he can play some outfield. In 2012, he hit 31 doubles, 15 home runs and had 77 RBIs in 130 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"You're just waiting on the call," he said. "Things didn't go the way I wanted them to go in New York, and they designated me [for assignment], but I was just patient, and my agent said other teams like me, and so the Astros took me. I'm excited to be here and see what I can do."
Laird has appeared in 11 Major League games (six starts), all coming in 2011 for the Yankees. He has been a productive hitter in his six Minor League seasons, reaching 20-plus home runs twice and 75 or more RBIs four times.
In 2010 at Double-A Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he combined to hit .281 with 25 home runs and 102 RBIs. Laird, who is the younger brother of veteran Major League catcher Gerald Laird, has been a postseason All-Star three times in his Minor League career, and was named to the Arizona Fall League all-prospect team in '09.
DeFrancesco has bevy of position players
HOUSTON -- The additions of infielder Matt Downs and outfielder Jordan Schafer in a wave of September callups, and the acquisition of infielder Brandon Laird has given Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco 15 healthy position players.
"We're going to have a meeting today and talk about [how] there's only eight slots [in the lineup] these guys can go into," DeFrancesco said. "We have a lot of position players now and guys playing a lot of the same positions. There's going to be some guys getting primary at-bats, and we're going to see how it goes."
DeFrancesco said Downs could get some time at shortstop, and he even said he wouldn't be against putting Jose Altuve, an All-Star second baseman, at shortstop.
"Whoever's available at the time, that's how we're going to go," he said.
Infielder Marwin Gonzalez is out for a while with an ankle injury, but Laird, Downs and Scott Moore can play different spots on the infield. The team is carrying six outfielders with Jimmy Paredes, Fernando Martinez, Brian Bogusevic, Brandon Barnes, Justin Maxwell and Schafer.
Astros hope new glove helps out Paredes
HOUSTON -- It's been barely a month since the Astros made the decision to convert Jimmy Paredes to the outfield from the infield, and he started his sixth consecutive game in right field on Sunday. Needless to say, there are still some growing pains as he learns a new position.
Paredes misplayed three grounders in the outfield on Friday and Saturday, a problem interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said was about equipment.
"We're finding out that his glove was not the proper glove," he said. "It really had a loose top to it, and every time he put the glove on the ground the top would break down, so there was really no pocket for the ball to go in."
Astros third-base coach Dave Clark, who works with the outfielders, made Paredes ditch the glove for Sunday's game.
"We don't want to see any of those plays," DeFrancesco said. "You see one of those every five months, inconsistency on ground balls, but to see three in two days is not what we're looking for. We're going to make some adjustments to that."
Right-hander Jose Valdez, who was the closer for much of the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, should help fortify the back of the Astros' bullpen after saving 21 games for the RedHawks. With Valdez on his way to Houston, Chuckie Fick blew a save Saturday night for Oklahoma City.