--GM Ed Wade spent much of Saturday at the NCAA Division II championship in Cary, N.C. Owner-to-be Jim Crane's alma mater, Central Missouri, was playing. He asked Wade to come with him. "It was a chance to get to know one another and talk about the club and the future of the club and what we're trying to do and flesh out some things regarding the draft," said Wade, who has a year and a half remaining on his contract. Wade and owner Drayton McLane met with Crane and CEO-to-be George Postolos on May 24 to discuss the upcoming draft.
--The Astros signed C Robinson Cancel as an insurance policy during spring training after starter Jason Castro suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the right knee. Cancel, 35, was actually an insurance policy to minor league insurance policy Carlos Corporan, who went down to injury (broken finger) in early May playing for Class AAA Oklahoma City. Cancel made his major league debut on Sept. 3, 1999 with the Brewers. He got in 48 plate appearances that season and didn't get to the majors again until 2008. He got one big-league plate appearance in 2009 and spent last year playing in an independent league, so getting back to the majors wasn't exactly a given.
"It's pretty exciting," Cancel said. "It's something everybody dreams of -- being up here."
--The last time Astros C Robinson Cancel started a big-league game was Sept. 25, 2008. Astros manager Brad Mills anticipates putting Cancel behind the plate for RHP Jordan Lyles' first major league start Tuesday in Chicago. "He throws strikes -- that's the main thing," Cancel said. "When you throw strikes, I believe you can pitch anywhere. He's capable of doing anything. He pitches. He looks ready to me."
--The Astros' bullpen woes continued in a 4-2 May 29 defeat that gave the Diamondbacks a three-game sweep. A 2-1 lead disappeared when RH reliever Jeff Fulchino got touched up for three runs in the eighth inning. A two-out, two-run double by Xavier Nady drove in the tying and go-ahead runs, dropping the Astros to 12-8 in games they've led heading into the eighth inning. The Astros had converted an NL-worst seven saves in 20 chances through May 29 and had the second-worst bullpen ERA (4.71). "We've got all the confidence in the world in those guys down there," Astros manager Brad Mills said.
--LHP J.A. Happ entered the season with a career .052 batting average. After a fifth-inning home run in a 4-2 May 29 defeat against the Diamondbacks, Happ is 7-for-18 this season. He was hitless in 26 at-bats last season. "I got razzed a lot about it last year," said Happ, who put in a stint on the disabled list with a strained left forearm. "With the injury I had last year, I wasn't hitting at all because the last thing I wanted to do was tweak something. I'm not going to make too much of it right now. I just put a good swing on it. That's about it." It was the first home run by an Astros pitcher since Gustavo Chacin went deep against the Nationals on May 31, 2010.
--After 12 days of rest, RHP Fernando Rodriguez finally got in a game on May 28. A week and a half after his call-up from Class AAA Oklahoma City, Rodriguez worked two scoreless innings in an 11-3 defeat against the Diamondbacks. Rodriguez (1.29 ERA, with 29 strikeouts in 21 innings at Oklahoma City) said he tried to stay sharp by throwing two bullpen sessions and warmed up about seven times with the potential of getting in a game. "It's a lot brighter out there than in the bullpen," Rodriguez said.
--The Astros are pointing to June 5 as the target date for RH reliever Brandon Lyon (3-2, four saves, 7.15 ERA) to start a medical rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Oklahoma City. Astros manager Brad Mills said the plan would be for Lyon to work one inning/25 pitches, take a day off, then work another inning/25 pitches. Lyon went on the DL May 6 because of biceps tendinitis and a slight rotator cuff tear.
--2B Jeff Keppinger went 1-for-3 with a double on May 29 in his second start since coming off the DL. He went 3-for-8 with a walk in his first two starts.
BY THE NUMBERS
.500 -- The Astros' winning percentage in games started by LHP Wandy Rodriguez (5-5). The Astros were 14-29 (.326) through May 29 in games started by anybody else.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"You don't want to dwell on it, but it's just the facts: We're not the luckiest team in the world right now. Hopefully that changes. Every now and then, you need a break to win a ballgame. We're not catching the breaks more than we're getting them." -- Astros 2B Bill Hall.
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