Braves Come Up Short Against Astros, 8-5
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Troy Glaus is used to making adjustments. When you’ve played for four teams over the last six seasons, it becomes like second nature.
The one thing he’s never been able to adapt to is not seeing his name on the lineup. That was a tough reality to accept last year in St. Louis, when he was limited to 14 games after having surgery on his right shoulder in January.
“It was unbelievably frustrating,” Glaus said of his final, injury-plagued year with the Cardinals. “I’m not a very good spectator. I wanted to be a part of it. Unfortunately, it took longer to come back than certainly I had hoped and everybody had hoped.”
Glaus reached base safely for the seventh consecutive game Sunday and Brian McCann hit his first two home runs of the spring, but Atlanta starter Kenshin Kawakami was battered around for six runs as the Astros beat a Braves split-squad 8-5.
Glaus’s shoulder is fully healed and feeling strong, and it’s showing early this spring. He drew a walk in the fifth inning Sunday, finishing 0 for 2 but is hitting .563 and recently went on an 8 for 8 streak that ended earlier this week.
Glaus was brought in this offseason on a one-year, $1.75 million contract to be a power presence in a lineup that ranked 22nd in the majors with 149 homers last year. Glaus hit 88 home runs for the Angels from 2000-01, he’s topped 25 seven times and has 304 long balls in his 12-year career.
Though he’ll always be known for his power, the 33-year old Glaus says homers aren’t his primary focus any longer.
“What becomes important as you play the game longer is runs scored and RBIs,” Glaus said. “The homers are great, everybody loves seeing homers. But for me, to be a productive player in the middle of the lineup, I need to drive in runs and score runs.”
Glaus is also transitioning to first base, a position he’d only played six times prior to this season. He says the move from third has been easier on his arm, but he no longer has that instinctual feel for the baseball the he had at the other hot corner.
“Being on the other side of the field is a little bit different and then actually having to have a conscious thought about situations in the game, where before you ended up where you’re supposed to go because you just knew where to go,” Glaus said. “Now I have to think about, ‘Runners on first and second, ball hit to center, where do I go?'”
McCann hit a solo home run off of Astros starter Brett Myers in the second inning and added a two-run shot off of reliever Tim Byrdak three innings later for the Braves. Omar Infante was 3 for 3 with a double Sunday, and Eric Hinske finished 2 for 2 with an RBI and run scored.
Kawakami allowed six runs — five of them earned — on eight hits over 3 2-3 innings. He threw 46 of 71 pitches for strikes and struck out three in his third start of the spring.
The 34-year-old Japanese righty went 7-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 25 starts last season. The Braves are hoping he’ll be durable enough to be their fifth starter this season.
“I don’t think he even made one bad pitch,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He had 13 ground balls. For me, he had one of his best days ever.”
Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee hit back-to-back home runs off of reliever Manny Acosta during the Astros’ six-run, fourth inning. Lee added a double and two RBIs while Pence drove in three.
Myers stuck out six and allowed just two runs on six hits and three walks over four innings in his third and longest outing of the spring. He threw 51 of 78 pitches for strikes and twice worked his way out of bases-loaded jams with minimal damage.
“I stayed predominantly with the four-seamers because the wind was pretty bad, like the first time I pitched here,” Myers said. “I threw a couple sinkers that weren’t even close. So I tried to stick with more four-seamers and go with that.”
NOTES: Former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, were in the crowd at Osceola County Stadium for the second straight game Sunday. … The Astros have an off-day on Monday, their last break in the spring schedule. … Astros ace Roy Oswalt will make his second start of the spring on Tuesday in Kissimmee against the Red Sox. His start on Thursday was rained out. … Braves starter Derek Lowe will make his third appearance of the spring on Monday night when they travel to Viera to take on the Nationals.