SEATTLE -- Triple-A Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco is scheduled to return to his club Tuesday after undergoing successful cancer treatments during the opening weeks of the season, the Astros announced Sunday.
DeFrancesco underwent treatments for approximately six weeks at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The RedHawks are hosting Omaha on Tuesday. Tom Lawless has served as the RedHawks' interim manager in DeFrancesco's absence.
"I'm feeling great," DeFrancesco said in a statement released by the team. "The treatments went well and the doctors are optimistic for a full recovery. I'm ready to go and very anxious to get back in the dugout. That's where I want to be. I'm looking forward to seeing the players and staff."
DeFrancesco was also thankful for the support he has received while undergoing treatments: "I want to thank my wife and family for all they have done for me during this time. I also can't say enough about the Astros for all the support they've given me."
"We're extremely excited for Tony," Astros player development director Quinton McCracken said. "He has shown tremendous strength while going through this, which is no surprise to us. We are looking forward to his return to Oklahoma City, and I'm sure our players, staff and the fans there are as well."
DeFrancesco, 51, has managed the RedHawks since 2011. Last season, he led Oklahoma City to an 82-62 mark, which was tops in the Pacific Coast League, despite having the youngest roster in the league. The 2014 season is his 20th as a manager.
The former catcher won three PCL championships as manager for Triple-A Sacramento (2003, '04, '07). In 2012, he served as the Astros' interim manager for the club's final 41 games, guiding Houston to a 15-15 mark over the last 30 games of the season.
Grossman recalled for left field; Hoes optioned
SEATTLE -- Robbie Grossman, who began the year as the Astros' starting left fielder before being sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City two weeks into the season, will rejoin the team Monday in Kansas City after he was recalled Sunday afternoon.
The Astros are bringing back Grossman to start in left field and are optioning struggling outfielder L.J. Hoes to Oklahoma City. Hoes is batting .209 with two homers and six RBIs in 28 games this year and had been starting in left field against left-handed pitchers.
"It gives L.J. an opportunity to get to Oklahoma City and play every day," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's been in a platoon pretty much the entire season here, and if you get to this stage and you talk about evaluating your players, if they're not getting consistent at-bats you have to rethink the construction of the roster.
"Robbie went down to Triple-A and he's hitting right at .300, and we feel like him being a switch-hitter and Opening Day starting left fielder, he's got his confidence back, and we're going to give him an opportunity to help our ballclub."
Grossman hit .125 off the bat for the Astros, but was batting .299 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a .373 on-base percentage in 34 games for the RedHawks. Last year, Grossman came up early in the season and struggled (.198 average) as well, before returning to hit .322 with a .816 OPS in the final three months.
"You're eager to get off to a good start and things start to domino a little bit and, defensively, there were a few plays that wore on him as far as plays he didn't make he felt like he should have made," Porter said. "When your confidence starts to go a little bit, we felt at the time it was the best thing to get him down to Oklahoma City and let him get his confidence back. We believe Robbie Grossman is an everyday outfielder. Getting him back is going to be a boost to our ballclub."
Class A prospect sees father catch HR ball
SEATTLE -- Astros prospect Conrad Gregor and his father, Marty, have shared plenty of games of catch over the years, but what happened Saturday night in Davenport, Iowa, tops everything.
Gregor hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning for Class A Quad Cities -- his first homer of the season -- and, amazingly, his father caught the ball on the fly while standing beyond the right-center-field fence in a moment neither will ever forget.
"I didn't know he was going to be out there," Conrad said. "I didn't know at the time that it happened, but after I saw him a lot of people were cheering. I spotted my dad and it was a pretty cool moment. Then I saw it on video after and I just started laughing, and that was really cool that he caught it. Didn't need a glove. Pretty good hands from the old man."
Marty and his wife, Megan, live in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, and decided to spend Memorial Day weekend watching the River Bandits instead of going to the Indianapolis 500, which they've done in the past. The couple took a stroll around Modern Woodmen Park about midway through the game.
"We were just standing out there watching, and the sixth inning rolled around and we knew Conrad was coming up and I thought to myself, 'Wouldn't that be something really crazy if he hit one,'" Marty said. "I was just watching his at-bat and heard a crack of the bat and watched the ball. It was pretty obvious that it looked like it was out from the moment it was off his bat, and I was just wondering, 'Can I catch it?' It was crazy."
Marty, who played football at Wabash College, caught the ball over his right shoulder and then spun around and held it up in the air with his right hand.
"I'm not known for having the most receiving of hands," he said. "I played football in college. My friends used to make fun of me and say I had stone hands. I think when your son hits one, you have to do everything you can to try to catch it on the fly."
Conrad said his dad taught him how to throw a baseball and how to hit, and he joked that maybe he knew exactly where he was going to hit the ball.
"I'm going to try to get him to come see me play more often and get some tickets to the right-center gap," he joked. "Maybe I'll hit a few more out."
Marty is going to keep the ball as a keepsake.
"We're going to put it someplace special," he said. "Over the years, we've kept a number of his baseballs that have been important or special, and this one will be one that sits right next to many others."