Matt Pagnozzi and teammate Scott Kazmar of the Gwinnett Braves were set to drive 25 hours from Gwinnett, Ga., to the Phoenix area after their baseball season ended on Monday.
Pagnozzi had the vehicle fueled and he and Kazmar, who also lives in the Phoenix area, were ready to embark home to Arizona. Pagnozzi stopped at a Walmart in Gwinnett to get a headlight when he got a phone call from the Atlanta Braves.
“They said we thank you for everything but we’re trading you,” said the 30-year-old Pagnozzi, who last appeared in the major leagues in 2011 with Pittsburgh.
The Astros acquired Pagnozzi from the Braves on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations. He was in an Astros uniform for Tuesday night’s game at Minute Maid Park against the Minnesota Twins. To make room on the roster for Pagnozzi, the Astros transferred right-handed reliever Edgar Gonzalez to the 60-day disabled list.
The Astros were looking for a catcher after All-Star catcher Jason Castro sustained a right knee sprain in Monday’s loss to the Twins. A MRI showed no structural damage on Castro, who is listed as day to day. Castro will be available to play when the soreness goes away.
In the meantime the Astros were looking for a catcher. With catchers Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi on the seven-day concussion disabled list, rookie Cody Clark was the only healthy catcher on Houston’s active roster.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was familiar with the right-handed hitting Pagnozzi from their days with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I over-lapped with him there,” said Luhnow. “He’s always had a reputation of a very good defensive catcher. He’s show an ability to hit at various levels of the minor leagues and has had some success in the big league level.
“He’s a perfect guy to come into an organization like ours, right now where a bunch of our catchers are hurt, and help us finish out the year.”
Pagnozzi has appeared in 33 major league games with the Cardinals (2009-10), the Rockies (2011) and Pirates (2011). He has a .310 major league batting average with 13 RBIs, going 22-for-71.
“It’s a small sample size but at the same time it is over three years,” said Pagnozzi. “I can’t say I’m going to stay as a .300 hitter but I’m not going to doubt myself and say that I’m not either.
“I’m known as a defensive catcher, not to take anything away from my offense but defense has always been my strength and my offense is developed later in my career rather than earlier.”
The Astros went out of the organization to get a catcher, deciding to leave catchers Rene Garcia and Carlos Perez at Triple A Oklahoma City.
“We did talk about it but felt this was a better path to go right now,” said Luhnow. “Both of those guys should be able to help the major leagues next year, but right now we felt like letting them to finish their season is in the best interest.”