PITTSBURGH -- Bud Norris, who left his most recent start, Monday in Detroit, with lower back spasms, could have taken his normal turn in the rotation on Sunday, but Astros manager Bo Porter decided to give him two extra days and push him back until Tuesday at home against the Royals.
Lucas Harrell will start Sunday's game on his regular four days of rest, with lefty Dallas Keuchel pitching Monday's series opener against the Royals in Houston.
Porter said the decision had more to do with not wanting Norris to have to bat during Sunday's Interleague game at PNC Park and risk an injury while swinging the bat. It's also fair to point out Norris has pitched much better at home in his career.
"The back is actually fine," Porter said, "But just giving it more thought with us playing in Pittsburgh in a National League ballpark and with National League rules, it became more evident the more cautious thing to do is to let him pitch an American League game rather than have him hit, and run the risk of having to get out of the way of a pitch, or swing the bat and/or be on the bases."
Norris is 4-4 with a 4.32 ERA in nine starts this year, allowing 59 hits and 24 earned runs in 50 innings. He's 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts at Minute Maid Park and 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in four starts away from home. In his career, he's 20-15 with a 3.39 ERA in 53 starts in Houston and 12-26 with a 5.54 ERA in 54 games (53 starts) on the road.
Grossman excited to play against former team
PITTSBURGH -- It was always the dream of outfielder Robbie Grossman to one day play at PNC Park. He finally got the chance on Friday, even if it was in a different uniform than he originally envisioned.
Grossman, who was acquired by the Astros in last year's trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates, was drafted in the sixth round by the Pirates in 2008 out of Cy-Fair High School in Houston and spent four years in the Pirates organization, reaching Double-A Altoona last year.
"I came up with a lot of those guys in the Minor Leagues and it's cool to see them," Grossman said before Friday night's game. "One of my best buddies in the Minor Leagues is [Pirates outfielder] Starling Marte. We've kept in touch in the offseason and I'm excited for him."
Grossman, who has started all but one of Houston's 22 games since he was called up on April 24, entered Friday hitting .205, but had hit safely in 12 of his last 15 games with a .373 on-base percentage in that span. He was also hitting .316 against left-handed pitchers. And in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates, Grossman went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs to make it 13 of his last 16 with a hit.
Altuve to rejoin Astros on Saturday
PITTSBURGH -- All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve will rejoin the Astros on Saturday and be in the lineup against the Pirates after missing three games on the bereavement list following the death of his grandmother in Venezuela. He actually arrived in Pittsburgh on Friday, but manager Bo Porter told him to stay at the team's downtown hotel.
Altuve left Monday's game in Detroit with a partially dislocated jaw following a collision with teammate Jimmy Paredes, but is healthy again.
"It's obviously been quite a whirlwind for him the last few days," Porter said. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to him. He's back here in Pittsburgh and we'll have him back here tomorrow and in the lineup and ready to go. I'm sure he's looking forward to getting around his teammates and getting back on the baseball field."
Altuve's return means infielder Jake Elmore will be sent back to Triple-A following Friday's game, Porter said. Elmore was recalled when Altuve went on the bereavement list Tuesday and has played well. His average stands at .364 (4-for-11) after going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in Friday's 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
"He's come here and done all the things in which we know he's capable of doing," Porter said. "He's gotten on base and bunted, and is a good base runner and a solid defender. He's done nothing but make us believe at some point through the course of the year he's going to be able to help our ballclub, just like he's helped us a few days in Altuve's absence."
Elmore hopes he's impressed the coaching staff.
"You come up and play as well as you can and hope you open some eyes and that's all you can do," he said. "You can't start worrying about whether you'll get sent down. You have to go out and play."