Max Stassi is a solid prospect for the Houston Astros, one who might have a long major league career coming. And no matter what happens going forward, Stassi always can tell youngsters the story of pulling the hidden ball trick on himself during his first major league game.
Perhaps still giddy from collecting his first two major league hits, Stassi was tagged out by Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning after he wandered off second base, thinking he already was out.
Via the Associated Press, this is what Stassi promised Astros manager Bo Porter:
''He told me, 'Bo, this never happened to me in no league, and it's not going to happen again,''' Porter said. ''I told him if you are a forceout, you don't leave the base until the umpire says you're out.''
What's funny about the play was, the throw toward second by Rangers right-hander Jason Frasor was too high for infielder Elvis Andrus to handle while keeping in contact with the bag, and the ball went over his outstretched glove. Countless other times, we've seen a baserunner start to take off for third base, thinking the ball was rolling free into center field. They get overzealous and, the next thing you know, they're tagged out.
Stassi's mistake wasn't too much zeal, it was just lack of awareness.
It's not that Stassi didn't realize that Kinsler was backing up Andrus; He thought Andrus somehow had caught the ball and tagged the bag with his foot for the force play. This, despite so such call by umpire Vic Carapazza — who made no indication either way.
Assuming is the worst thing you can do while running the bases. Kinsler quickly gathered himself and ran to tag Stassi before he could get back to the bag. Andrus turned around to see what was happening, and Carapazzi kept his eyes on the live ball before signaling Stassi was out. It's almost like he was waiting for Stassi to get himself out after being alerted to a possible hidden ball trick by the Rangers. By rule, the team on defense has to tell the ump ahead of time they might pull it.
Maybe they did, only subconsciously.
Head's up, Rangers!
Sad trombone, Astros.
The Astros led 2-1 at the time. Who knows? Stassi's miscue might have affected the outcome of the game, eventually won 4-2 by the Rangers. Stassi probably feels terrible right now, but it's easy for us to laugh and point at the new guy.
Stassi had been called up from Class AA Corpus Christi, after batting .277/.333/.529 with 17 homers, because the Astros put Carlos Corporan on the 7-day concussion disabled list. They can't use Jake Elmore at catcher every day.