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June 4, 2024 11 mins
Houston Astros manager Joe Espada joins The Matt Thomas Show ahead of the second of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. The Astros took the first game of the series 7-4 on Monday. Espada labeled the victory a "team win" after starting pitcher Justin Verlander had a rough start giving up two home runs in the first inning but received help from the bullpen and offensive production. "We did a lot of things well," and we are looking to "build on that momentum," Espada said. Yainer Diaz homered for the fourth time this season in the eighth inning. This was Diaz's first home run since April 11. Espada says it's been "a process" for Diaz to transition from a backup catcher to a starter as it "requires a lot of patience and discipline" and that he has started "chasing some pitches" leading to a higher ground ball rate; however, Diaz is "moving in the right direction." Kyle Tucker left the game in the third inning after fouling a ball off his right shin, and even though X-rays were negative, Espada says Tucker is "still day-to-day" but is "in good spirits." Espada also discusses Ryan Pressly's recent struggles, Chas McCormick's return to the lineup, Spencer Arrighetti's confidence, updates on Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy and more.
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Skipper Joe Spotto with us here.Do you miss had a big lunch day
today? How are things? I'mdoing well? Thanks for having me.
Hey, congratulations yesterday. So manynice things about the game. Obviously seeing
Kyle go down was not fun.You got great bullpen work, you got
a crook a number inning, yougot to come back kind of some of
the things we've missed around these partsthis past season. Would that be fair

to say? Yeah, you knowwhat, last night was a good,
great team team win. Bullpen dida great job just keeping us in the
game. We got some big hits, some big clutch hit, big Homer
stay at the end of the game, we ad them. We add him
some runs to give our back endof our bullpen a little cushion there.
Yeah, we did a lot ofthings well. It feels like to me

with your decision with the Trey Cabbagecoming up today, that maybe Kyle's gonna
miss a few days. Is thataccurate at this point? Yes, that's
accurate. You know he's going toobviously he's not in there today. He's
still day to day where he's goingto go through the doctors and just make
sure that you know what the Xray show are are still uh still accurate.
But he is feeling, he's feeling, he's feeling better today. I'm

assuming that leg looked pretty ugly lastnight after the game. Is that right?
It? Did it? Did youknow? He? I saw him
in the training room here a minuteago, and that was a pretty big
bruise, and uh, you knowhe's a he's a tough kid. And
yeah, he had a big smiley'sface. You know, he even joked

around saying, you know, Ieven thought about, you know, Otto
taking that pitch. I kind ofknew what was coming, and I'm like,
you should have. You know,you're so good, he's such a
great hitter, you should have trustyou anything. But but yeah, you
know, he's in good spirits andhopefully we you know, it would probably
be a day or two and thenget him back in there as soon as
possible. Great moment last night forthat young year dias home run. How

much, of course he had beenstruggling even before then in that game?
How much do you think it's physicalversus mental? And do we have an
explanation of why why is his groundball rate up so much? Uh?
You know what, I think theground bowl rate is up just because in
the position that he's in in thebody's box, he's just kind of pushing
forward, chasing some pitches, catchingstuff out in front. He's got such

a great eye hand coordination that everythinghe puts, everything he gets, he
gets puts the barrel on the ball, he's going to go on the ground.
Now when he stays back and hestays behind the ball, he can
elevate the ball like he's showing thelast of bat. So we're trying to
we need to get him back toyou know, get the pitches that you
want to hit, stop chasing pitcherspitches, and go back to hitting the

ball, you know, back upthe middle, up in the air.
And you know, I think thatyou know, yesterday the bat was was
a sign that you know, he'smoving in the right direction. And there
were some swings yesterday where where Ithought he just missed, but he was
a much you know, balanced incontrol of his movement. So hopefully,
you know, the two days thatI gave him off, uh you know,

for moving move him in the rightdirection. And how do you feel
just about of course everything else thatthat it comes with being a catcher,
as far as the game planning andthe calling games and how he's been coming
along on that front. Very pleased. I think that's an area that he's
he's he's improved from last year.He continues to improve, very coachable,
always looking for always asking questions,always looking for ways to get better,

make his pictures better. So Ithink he's moving in the right direction.
And you know, I'm just goingto make sure that you know, we
balanced the workload, so we makesure that you know, he's developing and
his progress continues to you know,head in the right direction and get him
to where we know he can getto last question about jan here, Skip.

You have been around professional baseball along time. You've seen catchers go
from being the much helded back upto the potential star playing six days a
week. Guy. What sort ofadjustments does the average catcher go to becoming
a starting catcher have to make?And as YARNI are gone through that or
is he still is that still aprocess for him right now? You know
it's a process, and you know, as a player, regardless of how

long you've been in the big league, is a process you need to continue
to improve your game. You're learningevery single day. You make adjustment you're
you know, you're growing every youknow, the game changes, it's information.
You got to trust your instincts,you got to read swings. There's
a lot of stuff that goes onin this game, as especially as a
catcher that you're constantly working with.And I think Theyan here is it's got

the the you know, the IQ, the savviness to do it. We
just got to help to do that, not letting offense uh go go to
defense or defense take you know,take to his offense. And you know,
I've been around some young catchers andit's require a lot of patient and
discipline and and you know, wewe have to demonstrate that and and and

show confidence that we we know thathe can can be the catcher that we
all expect him to be. JoeSpotta with us here on Sports Talk seven
Out of You and Dana we're bothasked about this yesterday before the game,
about the two pictures that are heard, and obviously you're still waiting for second
opinions and letting those guys kind ofgo through that at this point. But
the thing I thought was interesting whatDana said yesterday Joe, is that he

says those guys and I don't knowhow often you talked to them since all
this has gone down, said theyfeel fine, and they just I don't
know if their mind can't comprehend thatthere's something that right. What was that
like for you to hear a picturego, I'm ready to give this another
try, but knowing that the bodyjust won't cooperate at this point. Yeah,
you know, that's the competitive natureof our players. These guys are

winners. These guys want to beout there and and and and win and
and they want to post for theirfor their for their teammates and for our
city and for our fans, andand I don't blame them for that.
Like these guys, they they wantto get the ball. They you know
what, maybe in two weeks Icould go back and get after it.
But we have to give you know, we got to give some time to
the doctors to look at them andmake sure this is what's best for the

team, for their career, forfor our future, for their future.
But I I respect and I likewhen our players are willing and and and
throw through pain or hey, Ican go out there like you know,
Pucker was the perfect example yesterday whenhe was laying on the ground. I
want to finish it a bat.I think they can do it. I

think they can do it. Hestarted walking, he couldn't do it.
Then I'm like, you know what, Kyle, we we got to wait
for another day. But our guysare fighters, and and I commend that
from them. Joe spotted with ushere on Sports Talk Sonty skip Ross and
I are two of the bigger JoeRyan Presley fans out there. I think
many people obviously where this team hasgone the last seven or eight years in

large part is because of the greatbullpen work and what Ryan's been able to
do as a close to the lastcouple of years, whether it's a combination
of just hasn't had the same stuff, location, bad bounces, whatever the
case would be. The numbers,the whip especially is a lot higher than
it has been in the last coupleof years. What do you attribute that
to to Ryan as he self diagnosesthat and as you diagnosed that. Where

do you see Ryan right now exceptfor the fact that you want to be
able to continue to rely on himas your eighthning guy. Well, I
am going to continue to rely onon Presley. We cannot get to the
playoffs or championships year old world seriouswithout Ryan Presley. So I'm going to
start with that, I'm fully confident. Then Ryan Presley is still that closer

that that, you know, thatpiece that we have lean on heavily for
uh, you know, for thelast six seven years, this guy has
been really, really, really good. The stuff is there, the velo
is there, the shape of hispitches to look look great. You know,
I feel like he executes a goodpitch. They find a way to

put you know, the bat onthe ball and it feels like everything just
find a hole for a single.And we got to work through that.
You know, if he works throughthat, knowing that that's going to change,
he is going he's going to befine. And we got to help
him, you know, through that. But but but when he comes to
stuff and and readiness and toughness,and you know, he continues to be

the same pictures that we see inthe past. And Spencer Raghetti on the
hill tonight and coming off of hisbest start as a major leaguer. One
thing that's really impressed me about himis he seems extremely not cocky, but
but very just confident, calm andsmart for how young he is. Yes,

you you hit the nail right onthe head. You know, confidence
come from performance, Confidence come frombeing prepared, and he is. And
you know, we know he's gotthe stuff to perform at this level.
And once you start getting people outand you know that you can throw all
your pictures at any count and youcan make major league hitters feel uncomfortable,

not comfortable in that batter's box,it builds confidence. And the young man
has has all the weapons to dothat. And I, you know,
I expect him to continue to growand from from where he's at, he's
he's he's got the personality that makeup the toughness to do it. And
you know, we expect him todayto go out there and continue to build

on the success that he's happed thelast couple from the last couple of weeks.
How bad does Chas mccorma need athree hit day for you? How
bad is Chas mccorma need a threehit day from you? For you and
for his awn mental health? Thesedays? You know what you know?
For me? For chess. Rightnow, he's getting fastballs. He's making
those fastballs. When we look athis swing just looks like a little tardy,

like little tardy. You know,he came back from the from the
aisle. Just the timing doesn't seemdoesn't seem right. You know, he's
he's putting all the work in there, and we're going to continue to give
him, give him opportunities. Wewe need his offensive production production and and
you know it will come with time, all right. I think we're all

waiting for I know you've talked aboutit. I know Dana has looking for
that seven out of nine, nineout of eleven to get back in this
thing. And I don't want toput one game into perspective, but yesterday
for me, and having been therefor as long as I did before coming
home through the postgame show, thatyesterday felt like the twenty twenty one,

twenty three astros And where has thatbeen missing in your mind? And can
we get more of that nowviaus?You're going to need more of that if
you're gonna overcome this deficit right nowin the America League West. Yeah,
it's definitely in there, you know, and we have shown that fight and
from you know, coming from behind. You know, we have gone through
stretches when we have won six ina row. You know, we have.
You know, we have played reallywell here at home up late,

you know, like it's seen there. We just we need to build on
that. You know, we canjust get complacent from one night and thinking
that's there. No, we haveto create that mental you know, we
got to go out there and doit again today, not way to the
nineteen to do it. No,just build on that momentum that we've built,

like you know yesterday in the gameand do it from inning number one.
And I like how we guys arecompeting, their effort, their attitude.
These guys want it. We justgot to continue to push and push
and push, not just for onegame for two. No, it needs
to come and we need to stayon it for weeks and months if we

want to get to where we wantto get to. Thanks for the visitors,
always, have a great rest ofyour day. Good luck to night
against the Cardinals. We'll talk innext week. Thanks for the time.
I got it
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