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May 28, 2024 12 mins
Houston Astros manager Joe Espada joins The Matt Thomas Show following a 3-2 loss in the first of a four-game series on the road against the Seattle Mariners. Framber Valdez gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning, but recovered, allowing two hits and no runs the rest of the game. Valdez "actually settled down" and "his tempo was much better," Espada said. Despite getting a quality start from Valdez, the Astros starting rotation took another hit as Cristian Javier, who was scheduled to start Tuesday, was placed on the 15-day injured list, and Jose Urquidy aggravated a forearm strain in a rehab start for Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday. Both pitchers are "getting some imaging done" and are "not feeling great about the news," Espada said. "We need them back in our rotation." First baseman Jose Abreu returned to the lineup in Monday's 3-2 loss, recording an RBI single. We're "really excited to have him back" and "his swing looks different" so "he's going to get some playing time." The Astros demoted Abreu to the Florida Complex League on May 1 after batting .099 in 22 games. Abreu was sent to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday and went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts in two games. With Abreu brought back up, the corresponding move saw Joey Loperfido sent down to Triple-A. It would be "very difficult to get [Loprefido] some playing time" and "he needs everyday at bats." Alex Bregman went 2-for-4 with a walk Sunday against the Athletics, earning his first multi-hit game in his last eight starts, but went 0-for-4 Monday against the Mariners. "I'm going to drop him to fifth today" in the batting lineup because "we haven't seen the consistency in Alex Bregman that we've seen in the past."
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Episode Transcript

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(00:00):
The Houston Astros. Astro Astro.This exclusive Astros segment on Sports Talk seven
ninety. It's brought to you byMemorial Herman Better Care at Bantage. Yes,
let's go, Hey, let's go, guys. Let's spend ten to

(00:21):
twelve quality minutes with a manager ofthe Houston Astros, probably brunching as we
speak. Right now. It's tenthirty in Seattle, twelve thirty back here
in h Town, Skipper Joe spottedwith his Matt and Ross Skip. How
are you this afternoon? I shouldsay this morning, good morning to you.
I'm doing I'm doing well. Thankyou for having me. Guys.
All right, I'm gonna tell yousomething right now, this just me and
you talking. If you want todo a GoFundMe for the umpire that was

(00:44):
horrific last night behind a home plate, I will help you contribute to your
fine if you want me to dothat for you next time, I'm there
for you on that listen. Itried, I tried. I think you
know I gave Larry a piece ofmy mind. I think he knew that
he missed some pitches and he haduh, he couldn't he couldn't throw me
or Scott Servis out of the gamelast night. Yeah, we both tried.

(01:04):
Honestly, the reality is, Joe, it wasn't just yours, it
was them. I mean, itwas just a bad, bad night.
And I for those that want torespect the sport and the umpires, and
we certainly do, this is avery difficult job. There was just way
too much last that I think bothsides had. And look, Jeremy Paaney
was clearly affected by it and thefour strikeouts for him yesterday. Do you
pull him aside and say, heyman, sometimes that those ten things are

(01:27):
going to happen. No, theydon't want to. The players don't want
to hear that. They want toThey want to see the umpires do a
better job. And you know,and calling Bass's strike, you know,
we I want I want to fightfor the players. I don't want the
players to let those calls affect theour bats or you know, our ability
to compete. You know, that'sour job. And like I said,

(01:49):
me and Scott Servis, we bothtry to do our best to get our
our pon across. But you know, Larry just has always had a big
strike zone and he was it.You know, he looked over both of
us, and he's you know,he's plenty of play his case, but
he just he just missed a tonof pitches. You're right, all right,
let's get to the game itself.Uh, Fromber had the tough first

(02:10):
inning settled down for you. Thebullpens at its job as well. What
were some takeaways from what you sawfrom say Fromber after inning number one?
You know what, he actually settleddown. He sinker was more like the
action if his sinker was was morewas much better. In the first inning,
you know, his two seamer kindof stay up and flatten it up.
And you know he he got hegot hit around and live in the

(02:35):
first inning. But after that thechange up, the breaking ball much better,
drop executing his tempo was much better, getting quicker out quicker innings.
You know, he threw the ballreally well. He gave us a chance
to win. Uh. We heardthat there was supposed to be some imaging
done with Christian Xavier and jose Erickeaty have you do you have any updates
on that? So well, I'llget some some updates when I get to

(02:59):
the ballparks here in the next hour. But you know right now that we're
both getting some uh, seeing thedoctors this morning, getting some imaging done,
so I will have some some informationonce I get to the ballpark and
I speak to the media around fouro'clock. Was there any part of you
that when you heard of both guysgoing, here we go again. We
can't stay healthy for a link thisperiod of time that every team goes through

(03:22):
this. But you're trying to assemblea five man rotation and put some competition
with some of those guys, andLauren knows you probably could go for a
six man with a lack of daysoff. This has had to be kind
of news you didn't want to hear. Yeah, you know, it's been
it's been tough. It's been toughall season, you know, and any
you know, it's throughout the league. You know, a lot of starters
I've gone down, a lot ofpictures have gone down. And he's frustrating

(03:45):
because you're trying to get back intothe race and you know, you get
this. You know, there's puncheson the gut. And but I spoke
with both pictures, they're you know, they're they're not feeling great all the
news and you know, hopefully weget some some good news from the doctors.
But you know, it's disappointing becausewe really want to get this back.

(04:08):
This guy's back, we meet themback in our rotation and that's not
the case. But we'll see,We'll see what happens. Staying with the
pictures, how often do you getupdates on Lance and Luis and a JP
these days? Daily? I geta report from those guys daily from our
trainers JP. Still no throw.Lance. He's continued to improve, and

(04:33):
you know, he moved in theright direction. Like Luis Garci is the
one that is uh is ahead ofschedule. He'll start facing some hitters here
pretty soon and hopefully we'll get himgoing here on his rehabit on a rehabit
tignment. That's very encouraging on that. Tell us what it was like when
Jose jumped back into the fray withyou guys arriving at the clubhouse. Kind

(04:54):
of good to see you mischief thatkind of thing. And then when you
set up a line up card,do you pull them aside and say,
here's what I'm thinking you're gonna do. Have you discussed in terms of how
much playing time, whether you're platooningor dhing, what what? What has
it been like the last say,twenty four hours having him back with you
overall, you know, the guys, we're really excited to have him back.

(05:14):
You know, the coaching staff,we all pulling photos. We you
know, we told him how proudwe are of the work he's done.
You know, you know, twoweeks down in West Palm Beach to get
he's swing back, to get hismental uh, you know, preparation back.
It's you know, being a veteran, being in the big league for
so long and and taking that assignmentis not easy. And you know,

(05:38):
and I taped my cap to him. I told him that. I said,
dude, listen, we're all veryproud of you and the work you're
done. And listen, he swinglooks different in the batter's box yesterday.
The timing was better. There wassome mechanical adjustment, very noticeable, and
he hit that ball hard to writecenter feel. He got on top of
that fastball, something that he's beenhaving issues trouble with. But he did

(06:02):
a really good job. And youknow, we had a conversation about he's
playing time. You know. Theonly way we could find out if those
changes he made are you know,our working is by him playing, So
he's gonna you know, he's gonnaget a play he's gonna get playing time,
you know, fam as John who. You know, there's some d
H for both of them. There'ssome first base playing playing time for both
of them. You know, weneed all these guys to continue to contribute.

(06:27):
We need the entire roster for usto compete and get to where we
want to get to. So everybody'sgoing to get an opportunity to play.
As a manager, as you know, you do have to have difficult conversations
with people, and I imagine youhad to have one with Joey Loberffido.
Yes, yes, Also, youknow Joey came up here. He did
a really good job for us,you know, but it was kind of

(06:48):
a number of things right now.It's it's hard to very difficult to get
him some playing time and and youknow, getting McCormick back, getting a
break back go down, we'll playsome mot feel on on days that frime
about dead pitches. So it wasjust hard to get him so my bats
and for us to finish his development. You know, he needs every day

(07:11):
at bats, he needs every dayreps at first base, he needs every
day reps in the outfield, andunfortunately, right now that's not the case
here at the Big League. Joespotted with us here on Sports Talks,
Rennie. I asked you a fewweeks ago about what's the bigger challenge maneuvering
through a bullpen, of maneuvering througha lineup, And it feels like right
now, because you got Chazz backand you've obviously got Jose back, you're

(07:32):
having to do some wiggling about who'splaying left field, who's playing center on
occasion, who's playing first base inDH is that is that what's probing your
mind these days of how to geteverybody the playing times. You know,
Chaz wants to get back out thereand contribute as well, and you're getting
him and trying to get Jose inthere on a regular basis. That's got
to be some interesting times for youtrying to formulate your lineup. Yeah,

(07:55):
and you know, the a veryimportant communication, you know, talking to
those guys to make him understand that. Listen, you know it. We
got to get everyone involved. Thisis my plan. This is the games
that I see you playing, andour guys want to play, you know,

(08:15):
that's that's their attitude. They allwant to contribute, they don't want
to be part of it. Andbut yeah, it's it's it's been tricky,
but you know, we have someyou know, it's also nice to
have pieces on the bench that couldcome up the bench and can pinch it.
You could run with some of thoseguys. You know, du Boni
is one of those guys. That'salso the versatility swinging the bat well,

(08:35):
so you know, finding him someplaying time is also, you know,
kind of a tricky part of thepuzzle right now. Also another part of
the puzzle, which I think is, you know, we thought we saw
a little bit of bounce back andAlex's bat it has suffered a little bit
in the last week or so.And I know there's a lot of folks
that would like to know about thedecisions to continue to bat him forth.

(08:56):
Where do you see that. Iknow you want to put confidence in him.
I also know he feels comfortable thatspot, but right now the productivity
is just not there. Yeah,you know, and I talked to Braggy
yesterday. I'm gonna drop him tofifth today. You know, if we
look you know, if we lookedat his last two weeks of production.

(09:16):
You know, he's ops. He'sclose to eight hundred. He doesn't appear
to be, but he's got batsactually have been solid. He has walked
more, he's gone, you know, he's hitting the ball hard, just
no no luck behind him. He'sdone from fits. He's just we haven't
seen the Alex pregnant of consistency andAlex pragmant that we've seen in the past.
And and I get that, butthe quality of the bats actually have

(09:37):
been there. He just balls arenot falling in there for him. So
the plan is now to probably puthim back in that fifth spot somewhere where
we got him going a couple ofweeks ago, and hopefully we could get
him going and get some production fromthose guys in the middle of the lineup,
because you know, we need weneed, we need some big hits

(09:58):
from those guys for us to takes, you know, the load off some
of the some of the guys thatright now have been carrying the team for
the first two months of the season. In Alex's case, because he's such
a student of the game, isthere some times and this could be just
him, it could be a varietyof other players skip that they overthink the
subtleties of the swing change, whetherit's a video, whether it's extra batting,

(10:20):
cage time, or do you thinkas a major league player, it's
just part of the process where you'realways having to make subtle adjustments when you
get to the plate and when youdo it before and during the game.
You know, I think you makeadjustment doing the game. I think you
make adjustments, you know at badsometimes pitch by pitch and it's a fielding.
I think we you know, guysgets in the bodycacle, they're going

(10:43):
in the cage, and if somethingdoesn't feel right by nature, you want
to get that feel where you feellike, you know what, I'm on
my legs, you know, Iget I feel the barrel out in front,
I'm staying inside of the ball.And you have to tweet your swing
just to make sure that you feeland you see eat the ball in his
zone with plenty of times, soyou'll be able to attack every hitters do

(11:05):
that. You know, some hittersare able to make the adjustment quicker and
and they get results right away.And just I just think that you know,
Bregman, he's not getting the resultsright away, but he's always been
a guy that makes adjustment. I'mback to a bat, you know,
game by game, just to makesure that he feels comfortable in the body's
box. And you know, sofar this year he has to being able

(11:26):
to get the results that he's gonein years past. We're rap about a
high notes skip Jake Myers. Youtold and the organization did. This was
his job in center field for themost part, even going back to the
beginning of spring training and uh,defensively, great catch last night. His
bat's been ridiculously comfortable. And tome, that's been the most positive storyline

(11:48):
of this year is you gave alot of faith in a guy and he's
not let you down in terms ofhis performance, both offensively and defensively,
especially on the offensive side. No, yeah, he's he's been. He's
been terrific. I you know,he's he's one of those guys that we're
just talking about making an adjustment,you know, day by day, bad
by it bat. He's been ableto do those adjustments a bat by it

(12:09):
bat, laying us some some toughpitches, really handling you know, the
fastball, being on time. Thework he's done to be in the spots
that he's right now. I youknow, I piped my hat to him
because he has worked really, reallyhard. He's confidence also just kidding into
about his box. You know,you get that sense that he know exactly
what he wants to do every ofthat and the production that we've gotten for

(12:33):
that we've gotten for him has beenremarkable, and you know, we we
got to keep him going because rightnow he's getting some big hits for us.
Skip great visitors always, We'll talkin next week and enjoy your arrest
of your trip and look look forwardto seeing you back at home next week.
All right, guys, thank you, you got it. Joe spot
of joining us here on the MattThomas Show, and again if you did
not catch moments ago, Joe announcingthat he's going to bat Alex Berkman fifth
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