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Beloved bullpen C to throw to Bregman in Derby

Bracamonte has caught in 'pen, thrown batting practice for Astros since 2001
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Javier Bracamonte, the Astros' bullpen catcher since 2001, will hop aboard Houston's club-wide caravan to Washington at the end of this week as part of the pennant-winning staff representing the American League's for the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. And he'll play a big role in the festivities: Bracamonte will throw to third baseman Alex Bregman at 7 p.m. CT in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby on ESPN.

"He better throw strikes," Astros manager AJ Hinch said on Thursday. "He's another guy under a lot of pressure. The other day I told a story about how many All-Stars we had in the [clubhouse]. We had 10 players that had played in the All-Star Game -- led by McCann seven times and now Verlander seven times -- all the way down to guys that have made their first appearance last year with [Carlos] Correa, George [Springer] and then Bregman this year.

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HOUSTON -- Javier Bracamonte, the Astros' bullpen catcher since 2001, will hop aboard Houston's club-wide caravan to Washington at the end of this week as part of the pennant-winning staff representing the American League's for the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. And he'll play a big role in the festivities: Bracamonte will throw to third baseman Alex Bregman at 7 p.m. CT in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby on ESPN.

"He better throw strikes," Astros manager AJ Hinch said on Thursday. "He's another guy under a lot of pressure. The other day I told a story about how many All-Stars we had in the [clubhouse]. We had 10 players that had played in the All-Star Game -- led by McCann seven times and now Verlander seven times -- all the way down to guys that have made their first appearance last year with [Carlos] Correa, George [Springer] and then Bregman this year.

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:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::

"At the end of the meeting, Javi made sure to mention that I didn't mention him, this being his third All-Star Game that he's been to. So I'm happy he'll get to throw some BP, but now I won't forget that. If we happen to get to the World Series again next year, I'll remind the group that Javi's a veteran of All-Star Games."

Bracamonte has plenty of batting-practice experience, as he will remind you. The Astros' bullpen catcher for nearly two decades, Bracamonte threw All-Star Game batting practice to Andruw Jones and Jason Bay in Detroit in 2005 and Miguel Cabrera in '06 in Pittsburgh.

Twelve years later, he's going back.

"I've been to a few already, so of course there are butterflies in your stomach," said Bracamonte, the Astros' daily batting-practice hurler. "But the experience is there. I do a lot of throws every day. I think I'll be OK."

Each of his pitches will be tracked inch by inch as Bregman attempts to wallop long balls over Nationals Park's outfield walls in his first Derby appearance, the fifth by a member of the Astros.

If he does, Bregman will put on a spectacle as a teaser for Tuesday's All-Star Game. If he doesn't, the Astros will have things to say, surely.

"He'll have fun with it," Hinch said. "They picked a personality. There's some upside to him because he can put on a show. There's a downside for him if he doesn't put up numbers. There's a group of guys in here that'll probably be paying attention. He'll have fun with it."

Correa swings bat Wednesday 
Carlos Correa reported to the Astros that he felt "really good" after swinging a bat for the first time Wednesday. Correa, who will run, throw and swing again on Thursday, will "definitely" need a rehab assignment and was ruled out for the weekend series against Detroit, Hinch said.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Houston Astros, Alex Bregman