Hinch speaks with Torre about umpiring incident

April 5th, 2019

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he spoke via telephone Thursday with Major League Baseball chief baseball officer Joe Torre for 32 minutes concerning Wednesday’s incident in which he and hitting coach Alex Cintron were ejected during a loss to the Rangers in Arlington.

The Astros took issue with a balls-strikes call by plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the first inning with Gerrit Cole on the mound, and also another borderline pitch to Astros hitter Tyler White in the bottom of the inning had the dugout chirping. Hinch came out to talk to Kulpa, seemingly to defuse the situation, but Cintron continued to argue and was eventually ejected. A pitch later, Hinch, noticing Kulpa staring into the dugout, resumed his argument with the umpire and was soon ejected.

Cole and Kulpa had a long conversation on the field when the righty’s outing was over.

“Any time you have a conversation with an umpire, you’re going to have a phone call with Joe,” Hinch said. “That was standard operation. He heard me out; I heard him out and we get to move on, which is the best part.”

Major League Baseball never announced any discipline against Hinch or Cintron.

Former Astros prospect torments Red Sox

One of the most impressive stories of the first week of the season was A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano -- a former Astros farmhand -- having three assists in four games against the Red Sox, including a long throw to nab reigning American League Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts in the ninth inning of Thursday’s 7-3 win.

Betts was on first with nobody out when Andrew Benintendi lofted a shallow single to center. Boston’s star was aggressive, going first to third without hesitation with his team down four runs, but Laureano charged in 77 feet to field the ball and quickly fire to third for the out.

Laureano was in Major League camp with the Astros in 2017 but was well down the club’s depth chart in the outfield. Houston traded Laureano to the A’s after the ’17 season in exchange for Minor League pitcher Brandon Bailey.

“We loved him,” Hinch said. “There wasn’t a lack of affection for him, but we ran out of a lot of opportunity for him. We’re going to roll out tonight, in Triple-A, Derek Fisher, Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw and Yordan Alvarez -- four outfielders -- and there isn’t a lot of room here when you look at our team. The A’s were opportunistic and grabbed some depth that we had, and he’s off to a really good start there.”

On Monday, Laureano fielded Mitch Moreland’s second-inning single on the run and -- with little momentum behind him -- fired a 96-mph throw for a distance of 270 feet, per Statcast, with perfect accuracy to nab Xander Bogaerts at home plate. On Tuesday, Laureano fielded a fly ball off the top of the wall in right-center and fired another powerful throw to retire Bogaerts at third base.