DESHAIES TONIGHT’S GUEST ON ASTROLINE: Popular television broadcaster Jim Deshaies teams up with Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton for tonight’s edition of Astroline…the show, which normally is scheduled every Wednesday, is broadcast live from Buffalo Wild Wings at 510 Gray Street in Midtown…Deshaies will be the 10th guest of a scheduled 18 shows this offseason…the show will continue at Buffalo Wild Wings in Houston until Feb. 23 and then move to the ESPN Club restaurant on Disney’s Boardwalk (Orlando, FL) for the first of four shows on Feb. 29.
ASTROS TOURING TEXAS: The Astros were in three different cities today as part of the 2012 Astros CAREavan…a contingent of RHP Jordan Lyles, OF J.B. Shuck, RHP Kyle Weiland, pitching coach Doug Brocail and broadcaster Dave Raymond were in Austin today for their second of two days in the hill country…sixty miles south of Austin, a large group of Astros showed up in San Antonio for their first of two days of community stops in the Alamo City…the gaggle included: LHP J.A. Happ, IF Angel Sanchez, C Humberto Quintero, pitching prospect RHP Jarred Cosart, Astros legend Larry Dierker, broadcaster Brett Dolan and Astros President and CEO George Postolos…the caravan also wrapped up in Texas’ valley today as IF Jose Altuve, IF Jimmy Paredes, RHP Fernando Rodriguez and broadcaster Alex Trevino made their way through Harlingen and McAllen…for a full list of CAREavan stops please visit www.astros.com/careavan.
INDIVIDUAL GAME TICKETS ON SALE ON FEB. 11: The Astros will make their individual-game tickets for the 2012 regular season available for purchase beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11…those tickets can be purchased online at Astros.com, at the Minute Maid Park Box Office or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-877-9ASTROS…tickets may also be purchased at all Astros regular Houston-area Ticketmaster outlets…the Astros have plenty of special ticket offers available and will not be raising a single ticket price in 2012, as compared to prices at the end of the 2011 season.
ASTROS ANNOUNCE FANFEST PLANS (FEB. 11): The Astros and the Astros In Action Foundation will host the club’s annual FanFest event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Minute Maid Park…The event is open to the public with no admission fee…this year’s festival will include several current and former Astros players signing autographs, a “Talkin’ Baseball” session with Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and President & CEO George Postolos, and several activities for children…for more information on Astros FanFest, please visit Astros.com.
THE ASTROS ARE HERE TO STAY: Following week-long speculation about a potential name change for the franchise, Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane sent a video message to season ticket holders on Monday night with the message that “The Houston Astros are here to stay”…in the last several weeks, hundreds of season ticket holders took part in sessions with Crane and members of Astros management at Minute Maid Park to discuss ways to improve their experience while attending Astros games…a wide variety of suggestions and discussions took place, which inspired some of the stadium changes next season…Crane: “You asked for change and we added several fan-friendly initiatives last week and we hope you like them…We will continue to listen, and to look for additional ways to improve on and off the field.”
ASTROS INTRODUCE NEW FAN-FRIENDLY INITIATIVES: The Houston Astros have announced several new, fan-friendly initiatives, including a reduction in ticket prices, rebates for season ticket holders and a revised policy on bringing food and water into Minute Maid Park…fans are now allowed to bring food and water into Minute Maid Park for Astros games…food must be transported in a small, clear (see-through) plastic bag, and water must be in a sealed, plastic bottle, being one liter or less in size…as a special thank you for their loyalty and commitment, the Astros will issue five percent rebates to full-season and 27-game season ticket accounts that were renewed by January 31, 2012…the 2012 season will also bring a reduction in the cost of over 5,000 seats at Minute Maid Park, in comparison to the start of the 2011 season.
SPRING TRAINING AND REGULAR SEASON CREDENTIAL UPDATE: The Astros Media Relations Department will again utilize MLB’s online credentialing system in 2012…directions and deadlines for applications will be sent out to the club’s e-mail distribution list next week…Astros Media Relations kindly asks all Houston-area media who plan on traveling to Kissimmee this season to let a Media Relations representative know of their Florida plans.
SPRING IN THE AIR
With the Astros Spring Training opener a month from tomorrow, several key dates spot the schedule between now and then.
TRUCK AND WORKOUT DATES: The Astros equipment truck will be departing Minute Maid Park for Osceola County Stadium on Feb. 13…media is invited to cover the packing and departure of the truck that day…if there’s interest, please contact the Astros Media Relations office…pitchers and catchers will work out for the first time on Feb. 20, while the first full-squad workout with be on Feb. 26…the Astros open their 2012 Grapefruit League schedule on March 3 at OCS against the Washington Nationals.
VIDEO UPLOADS: Again this season, the Astros will be posting high definition video footage on MLBPressbox.com each day during Spring Training…the posts will begin on Feb. 20.
PHOTO DAY: The Astros photo day will be on Tuesday, Feb. 28…for more information or to reserve a spot for photo day please contact Gene Dias (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Astros Media Relations office.
ON THE FIELD
The Astros have added three players to the mix in the last two weeks, signing C Chris Snyder to a Major League contract and LHP Zach Duke and RHP Livan Hernandez to minor league deals…the club also announced that IF Angel Sanchez and RHP Henry Villar have both cleared waivers and have been invited to Spring Training as non-roster invites.
Snyder, 30, hit .271 (26×96) with three home runs, 17 RBI and a .376 on-base percentage in 34 games for the Pirates last season…he was limited to those 34 games due to surgery on his lower back in June, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season…Snyder is just one year removed from collecting 48 RBI and hitting 15 home runs in 2010, a home run total that ranked fourth among NL catchers that season…defensively, Snyder’s .998 career fielding percent is tops all-time in Major League history among catchers with 600 or more games.
Duke, 28, began the 2011 season on the 15-day Disabled List with a fractured left hand after being struck with a line drive while pitching in a Spring Training game…he made his first start and appearance for the D-backs on May 28 and ended up posting a 3-4 mark in 21 appearances (nine starts) for the season with one save and a 4.93 ERA (42ER/76.2IP)…for his career, Duke is 48-74 in 181 appearances (168 starts) with six complete games and a 4.56 ERA.
Hernandez, 36, pitched for Washington last season, making 29 starts and posting an 8-13 record and a 4.47 ERA (87ER/175.1IP)…he was the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in 2011, which also marked his 14th straight season (since 1998) to pitch at least 175.0 innings at the Major League level…in his career, he has reached the 200-inning mark on 10 occasions, most recently in 2010, when he went 10-12 with a 3.66 ERA (86ER/211.2IP)…since 1998, Hernandez leads all Major Leaguers in innings pitched (3022.1IP).
Sanchez, 28, was designated for assignment on Jan. 24…he hit .240 (69×288) in 110 games for the Astros in 2011 with a home run and 28 RBI…defensively, Sanchez made 41 starts at shortstop, 14 starts at second base and eight starts at third base…in 184 career Major League games, Sanchez has a .255 average (145×568) with a home run and 54 RBI with a .304 on-base percentage.
Villar, 24, was designated for assignment on Jan. 11…Villar pitched for both Triple A Oklahoma City and Double A Corpus Christi in 2011, posting a combined 4-5 mark with a 5.45 ERA in 42 appearances (7 starts) with 29 walks and 48 strikeouts in 76.0 innings of work.
IN THE COMMUNITY
The Astros are in the midst of their annual offseason CAREavan, which will continue tomorrow in Corpus Christi.
2012 ASTROS CAREavan: The 2012 Astros CAREavan, which began yesterday, includes several current and former players while visiting 13 cities throughout central and south Texas in an eight-day span and will include a stop in Oklahoma City…each day will include free autograph sessions at Academy Sports + Outdoors stores…for more information on player participation and the CAREavan schedule, visit www.astros.com/careavan.
CORPUS CHRISTI: The Houston Astros CAREavan will visit fans in Corpus Christi and Victoria with a variety of community visits set for tomorrow…while in Corpus Christi, the CAREavan will visit Four Bluff Primary School and attend the Corpus Christi Hooks luncheon…the Victoria leg of the tour includes a youth baseball and softball clinic along with a free, public autograph signing at Academy Sports + Outdoors…part of the Astros contingent includes IF Jose Altuve, OF Brian Bogusevic, OF J.B. Shuck, former player Shane Reynolds, broadcaster Milo Hamilton and Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane.
THE HOUSTON BASEBALL DINNER, FEB. 10: An impressive list of former Astros and Colt .45s players will be a part of the 2012 Houston Baseball Dinner Benefiting Grand Slam For Youth Baseball’s Scholarship Program…this year’s annual dinner, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston, will include a celebration of the Astros 50th Anniversary…this celebration includes a long list of former Astros team MVPs who will be in attendance, including Bob Watson, J.R. Richard, Jimmy Wynn, Larry Dierker, Jose Cruz, Enos Cabell, Bob Aspromonte, Roger Metzger and more…tickets are still available and can be purchased online at www.astros.com/baseballdinner or by calling Jo Russell at 713-789-0626.
BILINGUAL BASEBALL: Astros Player Development Coordinator Allen Rowin and Amateur Scouting Coordinator Stephanie Wilka took time out of their schedules this week to visit Helms Elementary in Houston on Tuesday…the two shared their experience in baseball and the business world to speak with children about the benefits of being bilingual.
While Major League Baseball won’t be played at Minute Maid Park until April, the Astros will be holding a couple amateur tournaments at the facility in February and March…for more information or credential questions please contact Steve Grande (email@example.com) in the Astros Media Relations office.
URBAN INVITATIONAL FROM FEB. 17-19: The Urban Invitational, the annual, round-robin collegiate baseball tournament designed to give Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their baseball programs national exposure, is relocating to Houston and Minute Maid Park this year and will feature five HBCUs – the most-ever in the tournament’s five-year history…the games scheduled on Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 will be played at the Astros Urban Youth Academy in Houston…the three games scheduled for Feb. 18 will be at Minute Maid Park…Feb. 18 will also feature a College Fair and a battle of the bands in addition to baseball…the six participating teams are Alabama State University (Montgomery, Alabama), Grambling State University (Grambling, Louisiana), Southern University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, Texas), Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas) and the University of California-Irvine.
HOUSTON COLLEGE CLASSIC, MARCH 2-4: Minute Maid Park will again host one of the most highly-competitive, early-season college baseball tournaments in the country when the 2012 Houston College Classic, presented by Ticketmaster, returns from March 2-4…the six-team tournament enters its 12th year at Minute Maid Park and will feature hometown schools Rice University and the University of Houston, who will be making their annual entry into the tournament…this year’s field also includes Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Tennessee…three of the teams in the tournament are ranked nationally among the top 10 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s 2012 pre-season poll, including No. 5 Texas, No. 7 Rice and No. 8 Arkansas.