To rest Springer's sore knee, slugger in DH role
Carter makes rare start in left field; Hernandez gets nod in center
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter used the final game before the All-Star break to give the sore right knee of center fielder George Springer a rest, though he wanted to keep his bat in the lineup. Springer started at designated hitter Sunday for the first time.
Porter said Springer's knee, which kept him out of the lineup Friday, was a little sore. Super utility rookie Enrique Hernandez made his first career start in center field after starting in left field, shortstop and DH since he was called up.
"To me, the outfield is the outfield and you have to cover a little bit more ground and that's it," Hernandez said of center.
With Springer at DH and Hernandez in center, Chris Carter made a rare start in left and Robbie Grossman moved over to right. It was all done with Springer in mind.
"George is a little sore and obviously it hurts him a little bit more to play defense and run around than it does to hit," Porter said. "We can monitor it a little better with him at DH. It's about trying to get our best nine guys in the lineup. It's not like Chris Carter hasn't played the outfield before. He's played the outfield, and Kiké is just a baseball player. He can play everywhere."
Altuve excited to have Jeter as All-Star teammate
HOUSTON -- All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve was set to fly to Minneapolis following Sunday's game to take part in the festivities surrounding Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field. Altuve was voted in by the players to take part in his second All-Star Game, first in the American League.
"I'm pretty excited," he said. "It's my second All-Star Game; now this year [it] is going to be in the American League. I want to spend time with those guys and have fun watching the [Gillette] Home Run Derby and have fun all weekend."
Altuve is taking Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton to win the Derby, but the part of the Midsummer Classic he's looking forward to the most is being a teammate of Yankees great Derek Jeter, who's playing in his final All-Star Game.
"That's the important thing for me," he said.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, who's managing the AL, said Sunday that Altuve will get into the game at some point. Robinson Cano is starting at second base and second baseman Ian Kinsler was recently added to the AL roster.
Altuve, who entered Sunday leading the AL in hits (130), batting (.339) and stolen bases (41), went 0-for-1 for the National League during his previous All-Star appearance in 2012.
"He's had a tremendous first half," Farrell said. "We'll get everybody to the field as we can. For him to be voted in by the players, I think, speaks volume to how he's viewed around the game by his peers, and he'll have a chance to showcase that on Tuesday."
Watson lauds Altuve for breaking first-half hits mark
HOUSTON -- Bob Watson, the former Astros slugger who went on to a distinguished career as the general manager of the Yankees and Astros and with Major League Baseball, was invited to Minute Maid Park on Sunday by president of business operations Reid Ryan to present Jose Altuve with an award for breaking his franchise record for hits in the first half.
Altuve entered Sunday with 130 hits, which smashed Watson's previous record of 123 hits before the All-Star break set in 1973.
"I congratulate him," Watson told MLB.com. "I hope he does it again next year and the year after that. I'm sorry it took 42 years or whatever for somebody to do it."
Even though Watson and Altuve have both worn No. 27 for the Astros, they are different players. Watson, known as "The Bull," was a burly first baseman and outfielder who slugged 184 homers in 19 years in the Majors, including 14 with the Astros, and made two All-Star teams. Altuve, of course, stands 5-foot-6.
"He plays like a big man," Watson said. "He's a little fella, but he plays big. He's learned how to play this game. He understands it's put the ball in play, use his tools and his foot speed."
Watson was also going to spend some time with manager Bo Porter, who has leaned on Watson throughout his career. Watson was the first African American general manager in Major League Baseball history when the Astros named him to the post in 1993, and three years later with the Yankees, he became the first black GM to win a World Series.
"I've been trying to get Bob to come down here for quite some time now," Porter said. "I guess it took the big guy breaking his record to get him down here. I'm excited he's coming. … He's accomplished quite a bit. We talk from time to time and he's a great ambassador for the game."
On Porter, Watson said: "He's a young man that's been put in a very difficult situation to accept losing for a couple of years, and I just talked to him about hanging in there. It's going to get better."
Cosart fine with being given extra rest
HOUSTON -- Sunday was right-hander Jarred Cosart's scheduled day to pitch, but the Astros chose to start Brad Peacock and give Cosart some extra rest. Cosart has thrown 105 2/3 innings in the first half, which puts him on pace to best his personal high of 153 set last year between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the Astros.
Cosart's arm feels fine, but he said general manager Jeff Luhnow indicated to him his workload would increase by 20 percent each season until he reaches 200 innings. That means he could be shut down around 183 2/3 innings this year.
"When I first came over here, Jeff said they were going to do a 20-percent increase in my innings every year until I got to 200," Cosart said. "By that time, I'll have a couple of years under my belt and hopefully we'll be fighting for a playoff spot, so my innings won't really matter. They didn't tell me an exact number [of innings], but if you go off 20 percent of last year, it would be right around ."
Cosart was shut down last Sept. 9 after throwing 60 innings in 10 starts in his debut with the Astros. He had thrown 93 at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"That's tough to have to sit and watch for about a month," Cosart said. "I'll take missing one now. I'm not hurt or anything like that, so I support the decision. I know I have a 190-innings limit, so if I average five or six a start, I'm going to be cutting it close at the end of the year anyway."
• Infielder/outfielder Jesus Guzman hasn't played since July 1, but he's not hurt. Guzman, who's hitting .211 with two homers and 11 RBIs, says he's waiting for his chance.
"I want to play, but I don't make the decisions," he said. "I just want to come here and try to work hard and control what I can control and that's all."