5/2/2014 9:38 P.M. ET
Trembley, Porter, Nolan watch top prep Kolek
Astros' contingent gets nostalgic on scouting trip to East Texas
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros bench coach Dave Trembley was taken aback by his experience Thursday night watching a high school baseball playoff game between Shepherd High School and Silsbee High School in Jasper, Texas.
Trembley joined manager Bo Porter and executive advisor Nolan Ryan in driving to the piney woods of East Texas to see hard-throwing high school right-hander Tyler Kolek of Shepherd, who the Astros are considering with the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
"It was a lot of fun," Trembley said. "It takes you back to high school. I tell you what, people in that town, they had a good time. It was like 'Friday Night Lights.'"
Of course, having a Hall of Fame pitcher and a Texas legend in Ryan coming to your town is a big deal, but Trembley was impressed with how all the players and fans handled themselves when the spotlight was on their community.
"I went back to my room last night and felt so reassured that there's such a large part of this country that's in good hands with young people after what I saw last night and the way we were treated," Trembley said. "It was small-town America, probably with the nicest young people I've ever been around -- the parents, the teachers, the people.
"I saw more young kids in baseball uniforms with gloves and balls and fingers up against the fence and watching the game, watching a high school playoff game like it was Game 7 of the World Series. So many people came up to us after and said, 'You don't know how much this means to us, that Nolan, Bo Porter and you guys would come here.' It will make you cry how nice people are."
Fields out of Astros' closer mix for now
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter said Friday that struggling reliever Josh Fields, who's 0-3 in his last three outings, wouldn't pitch in "high-leverage" innings until he gets comfortable on the mound. Fields had been sharing the closing duties with Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.
"I think we'll try to find some different spots in which we feel like he can gain his confidence back and get back to really attacking the strike zone," Porter said. "Whenever players go through ups and downs, from a managerial standpoint, you try to make decisions on the player and try to put him in position to gain that confidence back."
Porter has yet to settle on one closer, and he maintained that stance Friday, saying, "We don't have a closer."
But with Fields out of the picture for now and Albers on the disabled list, Porter said Qualls and Anthony Bass are likely to handle any closing duties in the near future.
Another pitcher on the roster who could close at some point is hard-throwing right-hander Jose Ciserno, who was recalled from Triple-A a week ago. He spent more than three months in the Majors last year, going 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 games, including a 10-game stretch when he didn't allow a run in 19 1/3 innings.
"He has the capability, he has the stuff," Porter said. "He has plus velocity. For about a two-week stretch last year, he was probably our best reliever. He hit a bump in the road when he couldn't command it, and we had to send him back to the Minor Leagues to work on his mechanics, work on his command.
"He's come back and he's been good the few times we've given him the ball. We're going to continue to give him opportunities. He does have the stuff where he can pitch in high-leverage situation in late in games."
Correa eases back into action at Lancaster
HOUSTON -- Shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros' top prospect and No. 1 pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, returned to the lineup Friday night at Class A Advanced Lancaster at designated hitter after missing the previous seven games with tightness in his right shoulder.
"We wanted to give his arm a complete rest and make sure his swing wasn't going to be affecting his arm," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Right now, the only he can't do without any discomfort are just those deep throws from the hole. That will still probably cause him a little bit of discomfort. We just want to be a bit cautious."
Carlos Perdomo has been starting at shortstop in Correa's place and entered Friday hitting .375 (9-for-24) with a home run and triple and three RBIs. He slugged a home run earlier this week off the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw during his rehab outing.
Meanwhile, center fielder Delino DeShields Jr., who's been out since he fractured his cheekbone when he was struck by a pitch in the face on April 19 while playing for Double-A Corpus Christi, is playing the outfield in extended spring training in Florida. He is expected to return to the Hooks soon, perhaps as early as Saturday when they return home to face San Antonio.
Astros hope to get Crain on a mound May 29
HOUSTON -- The Astros are targeting May 29 -- the date he would be eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list -- as the day for injured right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain to be added to a roster, whether at a Minor League affiliate or with the Astros.
Crain, who hasn't pitched since the middle of last season, was moved from the 15-day disabled list Friday to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Tony Sipp, who was signed. Crain began spring rehabbing from biceps tendinitis surgery and is now dealing with mostly bursitis in the shoulder, general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
"We're setting his date as a goal that he's out with us or one of our Minor League affiliates in games," said Luhnow, who talked to Crain via phone Friday from Florida, where the pitcher been rehabbing. "He's been making progress. He's feeling better."
Crain is still only throwing off flat ground, but he's scheduled to get on the mound in the next few weeks. His throwing program has been mapped out for the month.
Crain was an All-Star during a 2013 season in which he posted a 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 batters in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-innings scoreless streak. He didn't pitch after being traded to the Rays on July 29 because of biceps tendinitis that eventually required surgery.
In 10 Major League seasons with the Twins (2004-10) and White Sox ('11-13), Crain has posted a 45-30 record with four saves in 532 appearances (all in relief), with a 3.05 ERA and a .229 opponents' average.
• Astros pitchers worked on fielding and throwing to the bases prior to batting practice Friday. It's the kind of stuff they do daily in Spring Training, and they practice basic skills at different points during the season.
"A lot of times, from a pitching standpoint, you never know. You can go through five or six games as a starter or 10 games as a reliever and never get a comeback or get in position where you're fielding your position," manager Bo Porter said. "Every once in a while, we must make sure we get them out there and go through all those situations."
• Right-hander Scott Feldman is expected to rejoin the rotation at some point late next week. He's scheduled to throw a simulated game Sunday at Minute Maid Park, and if all goes well he could return as early as Friday in Baltimore.