Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
That song may just start blaring again at Minute Maid Park, three years after it was last heard. If this brings back memories of Richard "Doggie" Hidalgo, then you’re right. "Doggie" may just be back in an Astros uniform in 2007.
There are rumors circulating around Houston that the Astros are considering offering Hidalgo a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training based on his performance in the Venezuelan Winter League. Al Pedrique, the manager of the Navegantes del Magallanes and head of the Astros Venezuelan Baseball Operations is said to be pushing strongly for him.
Richard Hidalgo won’t get a starting spot in the outfield, but, he could very well take a bench spot, mainly as a defensive replacement for Chris Burke in Center Field or platooning with Luke Scott in Right Field. He finished the Venezuelan Winter season with a batting average of .273, OPS of .840 and was tied with the 2nd most home runs in the entire league with 9. Richard used to have a cannon for an arm while an Astro and as late as 2005, he was still putting up a .989 fpct in Right Field and the few games he played at Center, he was perfect.
If Hidalgo is invited to and does well in spring training, Jason Lane will lose his roster spot. Lane, who also played a few games in Venezuela this winter, finished his stint there with a .143 batting average and a .502 OPS.