Gervacio lands on DL with injured shoulder
Reliever strains posterior cuff in loss; Lopez recalled
HOUSTON -- The Astros placed right-hander Sammy Gervacio on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder posterior cuff strain following Wednesday's 10-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Right-hander Wilton Lopez was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Gervacio.
Gervacio, who won a spot in the bullpen after a dazzling spring, threw nine pitches in the eighth inning Wednesday in his second appearance of the season and gave up two hits, two runs (one earned) and committed a costly throwing error in one-third of an inning to suffer the loss.
The side-arming Gervacio went 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA while striking out 16 batters and walking three in 10 spring appearances.
Lopez, who will join the team Friday prior to the start of the series against the Phillies, went 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA in eight games (two starts) in 19 1/3 innings with the Astros last season. Houston claimed him off waivers from San Diego on April 10, 2009.
Berkman hopes to debut next week
HOUSTON -- Slugger Lance Berkman said Wednesday he hopes to make his debut next week when the Astros are in St. Louis to face the rival Cardinals. Berkman, who is eligible to return from the disabled list Saturday, had arthroscopic left knee surgery March 13.
Houston plays its first road game Monday at St. Louis, has an off-day Tuesday and closes out the series with games at Busch Stadium on April 14-15.
"I had it in my mind I would like to be back in that series, anyway," Berkman said. "I'm not guaranteeing it. I'm going to have to talk with [head athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero] and see what he thinks is best, but I'm starting to feel better and that is a possibility."
Berkman took some batting practice in the cage Wednesday and has been doing more agility exercises on the knee. He had the knee drained Monday and had a cortisone shot, which has been beneficial.
"I don't think there's one thing I can point to and say, 'Oh, I can do this now,'" Berkman said. "Getting out of bed is a lot easier, and that helps and makes you feel better. I don't have to consciously pick my knee up with my hands and stick it in the bed. I can get in now without any assistance. As far as baseball stuff, it feels a lot better than it has, and it's not as swollen. I can bend it a lot easier."
Berkman, who hit .274 with 25 homers and 80 RBIs in 136 games last year, is making sure not to rush himself back into action, even with the Astros' offensive struggles in the first two games of the regular season.
"There's no reason to have the surgery if I'm going to have to come back too soon and battle the swelling," he said. "That's the point of getting it cleaned out -- to get the knee to the point I wouldn't have to worry about it the rest of the year. That's the plan, and it's tough to be patient. But I think that's what the situation calls for."
Keppinger back in lineup at shortstop
HOUSTON -- Jeff Keppinger, who had two doubles and two walks as the starting second baseman Tuesday, was back in the starting lineup Wednesday at shortstop in place of Tommy Manzella, who was hit in the left wrist by a fastball Tuesday.
Manzella took batting practice Wednesday and was available to play, but manager Brad Mills wanted to give him a break by keeping him out of the lineup and taking advantage of Thursday's day off.
"Manzo said he's fine and wants to play, but with Kepp swinging the bat so well and Manzo getting hit, we'll give him today and tomorrow off," Mills said. "We might have to use him later on in the game anyway."
Keppinger typically starts against left-handers, considering he entered Wednesday as a career .344 hitter against southpaws. He was a .250 career hitter against right-handers prior to Wednesday, and a career .250 hitter against Matt Cain, who started against the Astros in the series finale.
Mills favors replay for homers
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills favors instant replay for close calls concerning home runs, even though it may have cost his team a homer in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Giants.
Astros second baseman Jeff Keppinger hit a ball in the sixth inning Tuesday that caromed off the top of the fence in left field and back into play. Keppinger stopped at second with a double, and Mills argued it should have been a home run because the ball hit a bar just over the yellow line and not the fence. The umpires upheld the original call after consulting replay.
Mills said Wednesday he didn't get much of a chance to review the replay himself.
"I just saw it briefly," he said. "I did not slow it down or analyze it or anything else. I don't know if you guys [the media] did, but the one time I saw it, it still looked like a home run to me. I respect they went back and looked at it anyway."
Mills doesn't mind close calls on home runs being reviewed via instant replay.
"I just don't want it to ever get involved on things like some close plays at first base or balls and strikes," he said.
Mills reflects on anniversary of park
HOUSTON -- Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary of the first regular-season game at Minute Maid Park. The Astros lost to the Phillies, 4-1, on April 7, 2000, and current Houston manager Brad Mills was in the ballpark.
Mills was first-base coach for the Phillies in 2000, and recognized himself on a panoramic photo inside the clubhouse depicting the first pitch thrown by Octavio Dotel.
"When I first walked in the clubhouse back in October [after being hired], that's the first thing I saw was that mural when you walk in," Mills said. "I said, 'I wonder who that guy is coaching first?' That was interesting. It was a beautiful park then, as it is now."
Dotel took the loss for the Astros, Wayne Gomes got the win for the Phillies, and Scott Rolen hit the first official home run at the park, which was known then as Enron Field. Richard Hidalgo hit the first home run for the Astros. The Phillies will open a three-game series at Minute Maid Park on Friday.
Saturday's game will be "Turn Back The Clock Night" at Minute Maid Park. The clubs will wear their uniforms from 1965 as part of the celebration of the Astros' 45th anniversary.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.