Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pence diagnosed with elbow sprain after MRI

LOS ANGELES -- The Astros got good news out of Houston on Sunday when an MRI on Hunter Pence's injured left elbow showed no tears or ligament damage. Pence was examined by team doctor Tom Mehlhoff and diagnosed with an elbow sprain. His range of motion has significantly improved since he was scratched from Saturday's starting lineup during batting practice, and he is listed as day to day. "He's questionable now for the Texas series, but at the same time, we're thrilled to death it's nothing more than that,

" Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We want to make sure he's OK before he comes back." Pence, who flew back to Houston Sunday morning to see Mehlhoff, is hitting .321 with nine homers this season. He injured his left elbow attempting a head-first slide into first base in the sixth inning Friday. With Pence out of the lineup Sunday, Mills used Jason Bourgeois in right field for the second straight game. In Pence's absence, Houston fell, 1-0, to the Dodgers.
Corporan makes fourth straight start for Astros LOS ANGELES -- Typically, when a day game follows a night game, the catcher is the first person the manager will offer a day of rest to. Given Saturday's collision at home plate that Astros catcher Carlos Corporan was on the receiving end of, it would seem even more likely the rookie might get a reprieve from his duties behind the plate. But starting catcher J.R. Towles is still banged up, and as a result, Corporan's name was inked in the eighth-spot in the lineup Sunday, marking his fourth consecutive start. He has started seven games in nine days since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Asked if he felt sore, Corporan shrugged the bumps and bruises off with his usual smile. "A little bit, nothing bad," Corporan said. "When you're a catcher, you get used to it. You expect to get hit. That's my job." Corporan, who missed a month in Oklahoma City with a broken finger, was called up to the Astros on June 10 and got his first start the next day. Manager Brad Mills praised the 27-year-old from Puerto Rico for his hard work during that time learning a new pitching staff. "It's a tough situation, for a catcher anyway, when you have to learn the staff down in Triple-A," Mills said. "Then you have to learn a whole other staff, especially with the amount that we're asking him to catch." Towles hasn't played since he fouled a ball off his ankle Wednesday, but Mills said he is available should Corporan get hurt. For now, Mills is very pleased with what Corporan offers, especially defensively. The last two days, Corporan has caught two of Houston's best-pitched games this season. Friday, Brett Myers tossed a complete-game four-hitter, and Saturday, four Astros pitchers combined for the team's first road shutout of the season. "That's what it's all about," Corporan said. "I got a CG, I got a shutout. What more can you have?" The switch-hitting Corporan hasn't been able to adjust to big league pitching, however, saying he simply hasn't felt comfortable at the plate yet. He has just three hits, all singles, in his 21 at-bats entering Sunday. It wasn't one of his best seasons at the plate in Triple-A, either. A year after hitting .290 with 12 home runs, his average dipped to .250, with just seven extra-base hits in 80 at-bats. "I'm going to start feeling better," Corporan said of his struggles at the plate. "But it's the big leagues. Every pitcher's good here. That's why they're here. I just need to put the ball in play more often, and I'll be all right." 
Astros to honor 'My Dad, My MVP' winner LOS ANGELES -- For the Rochford family, Alan Rochford is truly an MVP. He helps the homeless during the winter holidays, he volunteered during the hurricanes, and when he and his wife both had cancer at the same time, he waited until his wife was treated to receive his own treatment, just so he could be there for her. On Father's Day, he was recognized by Major League Baseball as a "My Dad, My MVP" contest winner. One MVP Dad was chosen for each team, and Rochford, who continues to be a great father at age 74, was the Astros' winner. Rochford will be honored by the Astros on Friday before their game against the Rays. Here's an excerpt from Rochford's winning entry: "Doesn't miss a ballgame, dance recital or band concert, is front center camera ready. Dad leads by example, the way he lives his life."
Bourn, Mills ejected in finale against Dodgers LOS ANGELES -- Michael Bourn took exception to a 2-2 fastball that was called a strike on the inside corner. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson took exception to Bourn's reaction. Bourn was ejected from Sunday's game against the Dodgers in the fifth inning after he argued with Nelson following the called third strike. He appeared to yell at Nelson as he walked back to the dugout, and after a few words, Bourn was tossed. He went 0-for-3 in the game. Manager Brad Mills came out to argue, and did so for a couple minutes, but he was not tossed until the following inning when he reemerged to talk with Nelson. Bourn was last ejected for disputing a call at first base on May 8, 2010, in an Astros loss to San Diego. Mills has now been ejected three times this season. Jason Bourgeois moved to center field in Bourn's place, and Jason Michaels entered the game in right.
Astros playing complete baseball in LA LOS ANGELES -- Something always seemed to be missing. That was the way shortstop Clint Barmes described the Astros' struggles this season. They have played well in different phases of the game, but haven't been able to play complete baseball. The Astros won the first two games in their three-game weekend series against Los Angeles, but more importantly to Barmes, is the type of baseball they've played. "It just seems like we haven't been able to put it together on both sides in all aspects of the game, and it's hurt us this year," he said. "But the last two days, it's one of those things where we've played good ball." For manager Brad Mills, he sees the last two victories -- both relatively easy wins -- as a reward for his club's hard work. "They had a knowledge that they're going about things the right way," Mills said. "They're always preparing and so forth, coming out and getting ready to play. Those things that they're doing are getting paid off for." Barmes said the two games have given the clubhouse some life after a disappointing stretch in which Houston lost 11 of 14 games. Saturday, they won despite right fielder Hunter Pence and catcher J.R. Towles being scratched during batting practice. Barmes said there is no reason the Astros can't continue playing the baseball they have in the last couple days. "We feel like for the most part, we've swung the bats pretty well as a whole," he said. "There have been a lot of times where we've had situations to drive runs in that we've needed and we've come up short on it."

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