The time the 1980s Astros used the occult to stop a losing streak

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Jim Deshaies explains that once, back in the late 80s, his Astros dropped a bunch of games in a row against the Padres in Jack Murphy Stadium despite being the better overall team. Frustrated, he and some of his teammates resorted to the dark arts:

Clearly it was time to change the karma. Some unknown force led me to a local book store where I happened upon a book on the occult, full of spells,incantations and the like.

Flipping through the pages I came upon a spell that would put a curse on one’s enemies house. Seemed like a fit. It called for twigs from 3 different types of trees. I gathered twigs from the first three trees I came upon brought them to the ballpark and gathered a pair of co-warlocks .(Larry Andersen and Dave Smith) The spell mandated we spit on the twigs then light them on fire and while smoldering recite the incantation:

Burner be burned,
Turner be turned
Let nothing but good
come from this wood.

Go read how it turned out. And whether the lesson is that the occult works or, rather, that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

Note: Chris Truby did not play for the Astros for over a decade after this, so his well-known participation in the dark arts is totally unrelated.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.