Less than two days after he joined the Astros in a trade with new division foe Oakland, Travis Blackley landed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. To fill the vacant roster spot, Houston recalled pitcher Dallas Keuchel from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Keuchel, 25, posted a 3-8 record and 5.27 ERA in 16 starts for the Astros in 2012. He allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 16 hits in seven innings during Grapefruit League action this spring.
The Astros acquired Blackley on Thursday. A day later, he suffered a left shoulder strain during a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park. His placement on the DL is retroactive to Friday.
The Australian southpaw compiled a 6-4 mark and 3.86 ERA in 24 outings (15 starts) last year with Oakland, which selected him off waivers from San Francisco in May.
Bedard will make first start Tuesday at Seattle
HOUSTON -- Left-hander Erik Bedard will make his first start of the season Tuesday at Seattle. Bedard had been originally penciled in to start Saturday against Oakland, but Thursday's off-day allowed manager Bo Porter to give No. 1 starter Bud Norris an extra turn Saturday.
"When you're No. 5 [in the rotation], I guess that's how it is," Bedard said.
Bedard did pitch 3 1/3 innings of one-hit relief in Sunday's Opening Night win over the Rangers, earning the save. It was Bedard's first appearance out of the bullpen since 2004 with the Orioles.
"That's a big difference," Bedard said of pitching in relief. "I got lucky. I don't think I'll do any more of that. I'll probably just stick with starting."
Porter said he did not consider using Bedard in Friday night's blowout loss to the A's.
"If you're going to bring a guy out of the bullpen who's going to be in the rotation, you want them to get the full complement of rest," Porter said. "With Bedard starting on Tuesday, I didn't think that would be fair for him, having him pitch out of the bullpen [Friday] night and make a start Tuesday."
The Astros are Bedard's fifth Major League club. He has appeared in 193 games in the Majors, 189 of them as a starter.
Bedard, a native of Ontario, Canada, signed a Minor League contract with the Astros in January after going 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA last year with the Pirates.
"I thought it was a good fit," Bedard said of signing with the Astros. "They had a lot of young guys, and a lot of energy. I thought it would be fun to come here."
Bedard never thought about pitching in Triple-A this season.
"If I didn't make the team, I don't know if I would have gone to the Minors," he said. "Not too much fun. In my mind, I was going to make the team. That's what you've got to put your mind to doing. And I made it."
Bedard, 34, is the oldest player on the roster, born two months before Carlos Pena. Did joining the youthful Astros make him feel older?
"You've got that right," Bedard said. "Last year, I wasn't the oldest guy in Pittsburgh. When I came over here in spring, oh my God, I think I'm the oldest guy on the team. It makes you realize you are old in the sports world. When you're young, time doesn't go by fast. When you get older, how did it go by so fast? Mentally, you feel like you're still young."
Altuve makes first career start at DH
HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve started Saturday's game against the A's as the designated hitter for the first time in his Major League career. He continued to bat in the leadoff spot and went 1-for-4.
Altuve played 57 games with the Astros in 2011 after being called up from Double-A Corpus Christi and 147 games last year without ever serving as a designated hitter, primarily due to the fact that the Astros played in the National League.
Marwin Gonzalez, who went 0-for-3 and is hitting .300, moved over from shortstop to start at second base with Ronny Cedeno playing short. Gonzalez broke up Yu Darvish's near perfect game Tuesday night with a two-out single in the ninth inning.
"It's more about Gonzalez played well and we have a night game with a day game tomorrow," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I was going to pick one of those days anyway [to give Altuve a break in the field] and today just made more sense."
Altuve leads the Astros with a .400 batting average.
"[Gonzalez] has been great defensively his whole career," Porter said. "That why we took him in the Rule 5 Draft last year. He's a plus-defender. He can play all three infield positions --shortstop, second base, third base. And he's been swinging the bat well."
Gonzalez and Cedeno had made two starts each this season at shortstop.
Porter links offensive woes to overanxiousness
HOUSTON -- The Astros have been strictly no "O," no go this season. Houston's starting pitching has been commendable, it's hitting, not so much.
After scoring eight runs on Opening Night in a win over the Rangers, the Astros have managed just three runs in their past three games, all losses. They were shut out Tuesday and Wednesday by the Rangers.
Manager Bo Porter didn't act worried about his team's offensive problems. He said his team may be overanxious at the plate.
"I think that can happen from an offensive standpoint," Porter said. "You get guys who feel they're going to get the team out of it with one at-bat, one swing. I told them, just concentrate, one pitch at a time."
The Astros struck out 56 times in their first four games.
"Get a good pitch you can handle," Porter told his players. "Keep the line moving. That was our focus all spring. Then you get to the regular season and you see guys trying to do more than what they've been doing the whole time. I stressed that to them. Get a good pitch. Get a good swing on it. It will take care of itself."
An offensive slump at the beginning of the season is much more visible than one in June. The Astros are last in the American League in hitting with a .194 team batting average.
"In this game of baseball, with 162 games, you're going to continue to get your at-bats," Porter said. "Do not start to press. Don't hang your head. Even the three games we've lost, we've been in all three games. We're going to figure out a way to win these games. It just so happens that that these three have gotten away from us."
Porter refused to use the youth of his team as an excuse.
"I don't think that's an age thing," he said. "If you allow tough times to get you down, you're not going to last in this game."