Rick Ankiel, who slugged a pinch-hit home run in his first at-bat on Opening Day, has gone down swinging. He’s been designated for assignment by the Astros. The team has 10 days to trade him, release him or get him to accept an assignment to the minors.
Despite a .194 batting average, Ankiel was slugging a team-best .484. The all-or-nothing Ankiel was second on the team in both home runs (5) and strikeouts (35 in 62 at-bats).
The Astros also DFA’d outfielder Fernando Martinez (.182, 1, 3).
Replacing them are J.D. Martinez (.244, 2, 7), activated from the DL, and young Trevor Crowe, who was hitting .300 with 11 steals at Oklahoma City.
Also, IF Brandon Laird (.200) was sent down and the very interesting IF-OF Jimmy Paredes, who’s been hitting a team-best .376 for Oklahoma City, is being given another shot at the big-league level. Having seen Paredes play the infield for the Astros last season, I’m glad he’s being stretched out in the pasture more often this year.
The roster adjustments were an inevitability. Veteran players like Ankiel were placeholders and potential mentors for younger players until the farm talent ripened. Playing the younger hands in May won’t necessarily improve the play, but it will preview the future — and that future might as well as come sooner rather than later.