Tuesday night in the fifth inning, Max Stassi wandered off second base thinking he had been forced out. Moments later, he became a victim of a version of the old hidden ball trick.
What's great about his mistake is that it didn't happen in a Double-A game in Corpus Christi. Instead, it happened to the newest member of the Houston Astros, who had two hits as the designated hitter in his major-league debut against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
With Stassi on first base after his first hit, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ground ball to Rangers pitcher Jason Frasor. He threw to second for the forceout, but the ball got past shortstop Elvis Andrus. When Stassi stepped off second base, second baseman Ian Kinsler, who had caught the wild throw, raced up and tagged him out.
Stassi, 22, who got his opportunity when catcher Carlos Corporan was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list, seemed comfortable in his new setting.
"I was really excited to be out there," Stassi said after going 2 for 3 in his debut. "After my first at-bat, I started to get settled in and slowed the game down."
In his second game with the Astros, however, Stassi was hit in the shoulder and face by a pitch Wednesday from the Rangers' Tanner Scheppers. There were no facial fractures, but Stassi joined Corporan on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
Injuries are nothing new for Stassi.
In 2009, the A's drafted Stassi and paid him a fourth-round-record $1.5 million bonus not to go to UCLA. But right shoulder surgery and a left hip injury slowed his progress.
If Stassi hadn't been plagued by injuries, the A's might not have traded him to the Astros with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez in February.
"There was a reason he was a well-compensated draft pick coming out of Yuba City," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told the Houston Chronicle. "He's been off-and-on hurt, and frankly, that's one of the reasons he was available when we traded for him.
"He had some injuries. We felt like if he were healthy, he could be a good two-way catcher, a guy who can hit and receive. I didn't expect him to have this type of summer. For him to come out and do what he did in the summer is impressive."
But Stassi's injury problems followed him to the Astros' organization.
"I had a sports hernia," Stassi said. "So right after I got traded over here, I show up the first week, and I have to have surgery. I've been healthy, knock on wood, since I went to Corpus Christi on May 2."
Stassi had 17 homers, 20 doubles and 60 RBIs in 76 games at Corpus Christi before his call to "The Show."
"Max has had a great year and is very deserving of this," Luhnow said. "He has earned this and is a very big part of our future."
Around the region
New Hampshire first baseman Gabe Jacobo (Sacramento State) was named Eastern League Player of the Week after going 10 for 19 with two doubles, three homers, eight RBIs and six runs scored in four games.
State College outfielder Jimmy Bosco (Jesuit) went 2 for 2 and Williamsport third baseman Zach Green (Jesuit) 0 for 2 for the National League team in the Short-Season New York Penn League All-Star Game. Green tops the NYPL in home runs, doubles, runs and slugging percentage.
Humboldt Crabs outfielder Kyle Moses (Sac State) was named the MVP of the Horizon Air Summer Series, and Marysville Gold Sox pitcher Chandler Eden (Yuba City) was chosen the top prospect. Crabs catcher Cameron Olson (UC Davis) was named to the all-star first team, and Gold Sox reliever Kea Vierra (Sierra College) and Sacramento Legends outfielder Tosh Semlacher (Jesuit) to the second team.
Outfielder Derek Hill (Elk Grove) was named the Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year at the Perfect Games All-American Classic in San Diego. He is a senior for the Thundering Herd.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.