ARLINGTON – When veteran reliever Joe Smith recorded two quick outs to end the sixth inning Friday night against the Rangers, it was a landmark moment of his career. Smith registered his 800th career appearance, which tied him with Francisco Cordero for 50th place all time.
“It’s neat,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of it. I’ve always wanted to play. I love playing the game, and the only way to do that as a reliever is to be ready to go every day. That’s the only thing I was told when I was a rookie -- come in here and post and get ready and make it through today, and we’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. I've enjoyed it over my career being one of the guys coming out of the bullpen and being consistent at it and being able to do it for a long time.”
Smith, 37, has played with six teams in his 14-year Major League career, signing with the Astros prior to the 2018 season. He opted out of last season to help take care of his mother, who passed away after a long bout with Huntington’s disease. He missed half of the ’19 season following Achilles surgery.
“As a kid and having shoulder surgery when I was 16 years old and walking onto Wright State and getting cut my freshman year and coming back out and [reaching] 800 appearances in the big leagues, it’s something I’m very proud of,” he said.
And Smith isn’t done. He doesn’t know the names immediately ahead of him on the all-time games pitched list, but they’re big ones. Hall of Fame starters Walter Johnson (802) and Nolan Ryan (807).
“I think I got some time left and hopefully, we can keep climbing that list and wherever it lands, it lands,” he said. “I just enjoy playing the game. I’m thankful I’m still doing it.”
After a slow start, Smith entered Saturday having posted a 1.04 ERA in his previous 10 appearances.
• The Astros have recalled infielder Taylor Jones from Triple-A Sugar Land for Saturday’s game. He takes the roster spot of RHP Tyler Ivey, who was optioned to Sugar Land after he made his Major League debut Friday.
Injury rehab updates:
• Left-hander Framber Valdez (broken left ring finger suffered March 2) is scheduled to throw about 65 pitches or four innings in a rehab start Saturday night at Sugar Land against El Paso. This will be his second rehab start.
• Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (right pronator strain) will throw 75-80 pitches in his second rehab outing Sunday for Sugar Land against El Paso. Odorizzi signed with the Astros a week after Valdez went down and had posted a 10.13 ERA in three starts.
• Left-hander Blake Taylor (right ankle sprain) is scheduled to throw in relief Sunday at Sugar Land. Taylor rolled his ankle pitching against the Mariners in Seattle on April 16. He has a 6.75 ERA in 5 1/3 innings in seven outings this year.
• Right-hander José Urquidy (right shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to throw in the bullpen Saturday and perhaps head to Double-A Corpus Christi to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday. Urquidy left his May 12 start against the Angels with posterior shoulder pain.