8/17/2014 5:50 P.M. ET
Astros honor former coach, scout MacKenzie
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The Astros on Sunday paid tribute to longtime Minor League coach and scout Gordy MacKenzie, who passed away Tuesday at 77, by wearing high socks as MacKenzie liked to wear.
On Friday night, the club's Minor League affiliates at every level honored MacKenzie by wearing high socks.
MacKenzie had served as a coach for the Astros' Gulf Coast League team since 2008. He first joined the Astros as a Minor League instructor (1999-2001) and later returned to the organization as a scout from 2004-08 before joining the Gulf Coast League club's coaching staff.
MacKenzie's distinguished career in baseball began in 1956 when he was signed as an amateur free agent by the Kansas City Athletics. MacKenzie, who was a catcher, made his Major League debut Aug. 13, 1961. He appeared in only 11 big league games, going 3-for-24.
After eight Minor League seasons as a player, he served as a Minor League manager at the Class A, Double-A and Triple-A levels for a combined 16 seasons, which included stints with the Minor League systems for Washington (1966-67), the New York Mets (1970-73), Montreal (1975-76), Kansas City (1977-79), Detroit (1983-85), San Francisco (1989) and Cleveland (1995).
MacKenzie won the Carolina League championship in 1995 and was inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Porter advises slumping Singleton to watch Ortiz hit
BOSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter is always looking for ways to drop knowledge on his younger players, especially those who have star potential. That's why he had a chat with struggling rookie first baseman Jon Singleton before Saturday's game, using fellow left-handed hitter David Ortiz as an example of understanding how to hit.
Ortiz then went out and put on a show, hitting a pair of two-run homers and driving in a career-high-tying six runs in the Red Sox's 10-7 win over the Astros on Saturday. Porter, with a plate of food in his hand, passed Singleton sitting on a couch in the clubhouse Sunday morning and asked Singleton if he understood what he was talking about.
"He just shook his head and said, 'I see exactly what you're talking about,'" said Singleton, who hit a solo shot in Houston's 8-1 win Sunday afternoon.
Ortiz, of course, is likely headed to the Hall of Fame, while Singleton's career is just getting started. Singleton had only 65 games under his belt and was hitting .183 with 10 homers, 36 RBIs and 90 strikeouts in 229 at-bats entering Sunday.
Porter wanted the young slugger to understand that the homework Ortiz puts into the game, which in addition to his natural ability, hitting to all fields and in-game adjustments, has made him a star.
"That maturation takes time," Porter said. "When [Ortiz] first started his career, he wasn't the player that he is today. With some players, it clicks right away, but other guys have to experience some of the failure and play it back in their mind and go back and look at the video.
"What you're hoping is as they get into these situations more and more, the success in which they have will breed confidence, and the failure they experience, you hope it motivates them to understand that situation so the next time they find themselves in that situation, they feel better prepared."
Luhnow hopes to see Albers, Crain in action
BOSTON -- With six weeks remaining in the season, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he'd like to see right-handed reliever Matt Albers pitch in a few games, considering the club has an option on him for the 2015 season.
The Astros signed Albers to a one-year deal worth $2.45 million for this season with an option for next year, but the veteran appeared in only eight games in April before going on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. He's throwing in the bullpen, but he would still have to face hitters before being activated.
"He was great at the beginning of the year, and we just haven't seen anything since then," Luhnow said. "It's important for him to have a big month of September, not only for our option, but also in case we decline it and he can prove he's healthy for other teams."
Ideally, the Astros would like to get Albers out on a Minor League rehab assignment, but the Minor League seasons ends soon.
"We're running into a little bit of a time constraint," Luhnow said. "I would like to get him out in front of hitters, whether we'll do that in a simulated game at Minute Maid Park or on the road with a Minor League affiliate. It's important he faces live action fairly soon, and I'm hopeful that's coming."
As for Jesse Crain, who's been out all season following biceps tendinitis surgery last October, Luhnow remains hopeful he'll pitch in a game as well.
"I had a conversation with him right before we left to come on this road trip and he said he had one of his best throwing sessions so far this year, and that's a good sign," Luhnow said. "He's got to get over the last hump, and hopefully it will happen. It would be nice to have those two guys in the bullpen in September to help us win some games. I'm sure they want to do that as well so they can establish something going into next year."