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UPDATED: Astros Doctor Can't Follow Tender, Delicate Team PLUS Spring Training Updates

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The Houston Astros signed Mike Hampton earlier this off-season. Mike Hampton has not pitched a complete season of baseball since 2004. And last season they signed Kaz Matsui who gets injured while standing still. Brandon Backe and Chris Sampson have had major arm surgeries. Carlos Lee is returning from injury. Hunter Pence walks into glass doors.

I could go on with a history of Houston Astros injuries, but I think you get the point. They're a team that's easily injured. And yet, with pitchers and catchers having reported to spring training last week, the Astros team doctor is here in Houston. You would think that the team doctor would be in Florida with the team. You would think wrong.

It seems that Mike Hampton had an EKG on Saturday morning where it was discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat. He flew back to Houston yesterday so that he could meet with the team doctor and undergo a procedure to correct his heartbeat.

You would think that after Kaz Matsui's anal fissure issues last season, and after Hunter Pence decided to run into a glass door last spring that the Astros might have thought it was a good idea to have the team doctor stay with the team in Florida during spring training. But no. Drayton decided to once again keep the team doctor in Houston, and once again, as with Kaz Matsui last year, they have to fly Astros back and forth from Florida and Houston for medical treatment.

But even worse than the Astros team doctor not being in Florida with the team is what this says about the state of Florida's medical community. Kaz Matsui had to be flown back to Houston for day surgery last year, and Mike Hampton had to be sent back to Houston for the electrical treatment that will solve the problem.

You would think that with all of the old people who live in Florida that the state would be full of heart and ass doctors. And I've been to Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg, and I've seen on multiple occasions what appear to be state-of-the art hospitals that could rival our medical center. But I guess that shows you just can't depend on the façade alone to make judgments. It's almost like those hospitals are staffed with Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard.

Now if I was a free agent looking to play for one of Florida's many sports teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB, I would seriously be thinking about playing somewhere else. I would want to play in a state that has state-of-the-art medical facilities that can handle ass and heart issues. And with the way the Astros fly everyone back to Houston during spring training to handle these issues, it appears that Florida is just not equipped to handle these state-of-the-art medical problems.

And frankly, if I were Drayton McLane, I think I would be looking to move my spring training operations to a safer location where they can the proper medical care at all hours of the day. I hear that lots and lots of teams are now playing spring training baseball in Arizona, so maybe Drayton should check out locations there. After all, we don't want a player dying from a splinter in a finger because he can't get back to Houston quick enough.


Mike Hampton's heart issues weren't the only medical scare the Astros had yesterday. Reliever Jose Valverde woke up with a right forearm that was so swollen that he needed to be taken to the emergency room - I guess Florida's medical science is up to date enough to handle swollen arms. It was determined that Valverde's arm was infected, which caused severe irritation, swelling and bruising. And while it isn't known how Valverde's arm came to be infected, he has been cleared to start throwing.

******************* And I hate to do this - it's really painful for me - but I'm going to agree with Richard Justice about Ivan Rodriguez. Justice thinks the Astros should sign Rodriguez, one of the greatest catchers of all time, to a contract if the Astros can get the terms just right.

Rodriguez, who is a free agent, has stated that the Astros are one of the teams he is considering signing with to play this season. And with the current options being Humberto Quintero, J.R. Towles, Toby Hall, and Jason Castro, I think the Astros would be fools to not consider signing Rodriguez if they can get him to agree to an incentive-laden contract.

Besides Rodriguez's catching skills, with the steroids rumors that surround him, maybe he can take some of the pressure and attention off of Miguel Tejada.

UDPATE: I need to apologize. You might notice above that I linked to Richard Justice, and said that I agreed with him about signing Ivan Rodriguez. So I'm sure that those of you who read today's Chron are confused since, in his column, he says the Astros should avoid Ivan Rodriguez.

I read his blog post last night. I linked to his blog post. I didn't know that today he was going to write a column contradicting everything in his blog. Otherwise, I wouldn't have included the link.

Either way, I still think the Astros should sign Ivan Rodriguez.

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