Newhan makes return to Astros
Injury to Matsui opens opportunity for versatile veteran
HOUSTON -- There are not many 34-year-olds still playing in the Minors.
Not only are the pay and amenities far below what Major League players receive, but the wear and tear on the body -- added to rigorous travel schedules on buses -- makes many give up on dreams of playing in the big leagues.
But not David Newhan. Despite seeing time for the Padres, Phillies, Orioles and Mets in his long stint in baseball, the infielder has primarily stayed cooped up in the farm system. He's also been part of the Dodgers, Rangers and Rockies, although he never made it into big league play for those teams.
Yet, somehow, Newhan's name keeps appearing on Major League rosters. Whether through hard work, determination or just maybe a little luck, the California native just will not go away.
Now he's on the Astros' roster for the second time this season, after second baseman Kazuo Matsui went on the disabled list for a strained right hamstring. Newhan was previously with Houston when Ty Wigginton went on the disabled list with a fractured thumb.
Newhan said he hopes this time he will do something to help him stick around awhile.
"I love being here," he said of the move. "I love the organization. It's a great group in the clubhouse, and obviously I'd love to stay."
The Astros called Newhan up Tuesday after putting Matsui on the 15-day disabled list, and he was there right away. He even got his name in the lineup at the end of the game, although he did not get an at-bat in Houston's 4-3 win over Texas.
Cooper said the new guy will get a chance at second and third base and may even see playing time in the outfield. He played infield and outfield for Triple-A Round Rock.
"We're going to mix him in whenever we can," Cooper said. "For the most part we're going to play [Mark] Loretta at second, but he'll get a chance to get in on a lot of double switches, and I'll try to find him some starts as well.
"He can play a little bit. He can steal a base -- heck, he might even be able to play shortstop, I don't know. He's played all over the place."
Cooper said it takes a "different breed" to be patient enough to stay in the Minors for so long. He said sometimes the opportunity to prove you are a good player never really presents itself.
"He's a guy that has the ability," he said. "Guys like that know how to play; it's just getting the chance. Sometimes you have to give guys like that a break and give them a chance to see what they're made out of."
Newhan said he makes it through the tough schedules and the time spent away from his family in San Diego by finding pleasure in playing the game.
He said his love for playing baseball far outweighs the cons, and getting called up to the Majors makes it worth every hard day.
"Hopefully you get your game to the level it needs to be to play in the big leagues," Newhan said. "You don't always get the opportunity to play in the big leagues but when you do, if your game's ready you're going to be able to help the team win. If it isn't ready, then when you get the opportunity you're not going to stick. You just got to play your game."
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.