9/28/2013 1:42 A.M. ET
Astros respond to Comcast bankruptcy petition
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Astros issued a statement Friday explaining their position following a report that Comcast filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition on behalf of the team's regional sports partnership with the NBA's Houston Rockets, Comcast SportsNet Houston.
The network, which will mark one year on the air on Tuesday, is only carried in about 40 percent of the Houston television market, according to the Houston Chronicle report. The network is jointly owned by the Astros (46 percent), Rockets (31 percent) and NBC Universal (23 percent).
"Comcast has improperly filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition in an attempt to prevent the Astros from terminating the Media Rights Agreement between the Astros and Houston Regional Sports Network. HRSN failed to pay the Astros media rights fees in July, August and September, and we have invested additional money in order to keep the network viable through our season," the statement said.
"Despite not receiving our media rights fees, our objective has not changed. We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships."
According to the newspaper, the HSRN is the partnership between the Astros and Rockets that was established in the early 2000s for the teams to market their media rights. The network will remain on the air while the Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedure is resolved, the report says.
Castro expects to have normal offseason workouts
HOUSTON -- Astros catcher Jason Castro, who had surgery last week to remove a cyst in his right knee, said Friday he expects to resume all of his normal offseason workout activities a couple of weeks after the end of the regular season.
Castro didn't travel with the club on its road trip last week because of the surgery, and he hasn't played since Sept. 7 and was shut down a few days later when his knee wouldn't heal.
"The surgery went well," he said. "I have to keep it straight the next couple of weeks just to let the incisions heal. Other than that, once the healing takes place, I'll be pretty much good to go and ready to start workouts not too far after that."
This year was a breakout season for Castro, a two-time American League Player of the Week and the first Astros player to represent the AL in the All-Star Game. He hit .276 in 120 games with 35 doubles, 18 homers, 56 RBIs and a .485 slugging percentage, setting career highs in every offensive category except triples.
Castro said the doctors told him cysts shouldn't be an ongoing problem. Castro missed the entire 2011 season after having the anterior cruciate ligament repaired.
"We talked with the doctor and he removed the cyst and cleaned up some of the lingering things," Castro said. "He was pretty confident this shouldn't be something that reoccurs. That was good to hear, and hopefully the knee will continue to stay strong."
Barnes, Astros excited to potentially face Mo
HOUSTON -- Brandon Barnes, prior to Friday, was the only Astros player who could say he had a base hit against Yankees legend Mariano Rivera, who is in Houston this weekend for his final series of his career. Barnes singled against Rivera earlier this year.
The chance to perhaps get one last crack at Rivera this weekend was something that excited Barnes and some of his teammates.
"It's awesome any time you get to face him," Barnes said. "It's going to be exciting to see him come out of the bullpen, I'll tell you that."
Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes was hoping to get in the box against Rivera.
"I'm just hoping I get the opportunity," he said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi hinted earlier this week that Rivera could get some time in center field at some point this weekend.
"He's Mariano Rivera," Barnes said. "He can do whatever he wants. If he wants to play a game in center field, let him play a game in center field. He's great. Not only one of the greatest closers of all time, but one of the greatest guys of all time."
Astros manager Bo Porter said he would have no issue with Rivera in center field.
"Whatever it is they decide to do, I'm all in," he said. "He deserves it. He's arguably one of the best pitchers or even players to play in this league."
Astros upgrade sound system at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON -- The Astros have upgraded their audio system with the installation of GilmanSound to transform the quality of the fan experience at Minute Maid Park. The revolutionary new system, which will provide "concert quality" sound, will put the Astros' audio capabilities on par with any in professional sports.
The GilmanSound system upgrade reshapes sound waves and distributes them evenly throughout the ballpark. The programming allows the speaker arrays to work together instead of battling each other for space. The system also streamlines concert production by allowing bands to use the ballpark's audio system in a "plug and play" fashion, eliminating the need to transport large quantities of their own equipment to the venue.
"We wanted to give our fans the highest quality audio experience," Astros vice president and general manager of building operations Marcel Braithwaite said. "We researched the best way to address the issue and GilmanSound provided the superior solution. Using our existing infrastructure and their advanced technology, there is now a noticeable difference in the sound at Minute Maid Park.
"The improvement has been described as 'listening to AM radio your whole life and then all of a sudden being introduced to FM.' The partnership between the Astros and GilmanSound has resulted in some of the best audio in baseball."
The Astros honored longtime public address announcer Bob Ford on Friday at Minute Maid Park for his 20 years of service as the ballpark voice of the Astros. Ford, a well-known radio personality in Houston, began his Astros career in 1994. He received a crystal microphone.