HOUSTON -- Because the Astros have played so many tight games in September, manager Brad Mills has admittedly had a tough time finding a way to get relief pitchers Felipe Paulino and Wesley Wright some innings.
Paulino, who missed 2 1/2 months with right shoulder tendinitis, hadn't pitched since being activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Sunday's game. Wright was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Sept. 1 and had yet to pitch prior to Wednesday.
"I've thought about [Paulino] and Wesley Wright an awful lot," Mills said. "I'm very cognizant of the fact we have to get those guys in. But with the 2-1, 3-2, 4-2 games, it's hard sometimes to be able to pick your spots and get those guys in."
Mills has been relying on Tim Byrdak, Fernando Abad and Gustavo Chacin against left-handers, Jeff Fulchino and Mark Melancon in middle relief and Wilton Lopez, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon in the late innings.
But Mills said Paulino, who made 14 starts before getting injured, will need to get back on the mound soon.
"We're going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'Hey, we need to get you in for this inning at some point,'" he said. "When does that point come? I don't know, but it's coming up quickly. We're going to need to get him an inning, and Wesley as well."
Astros like Myers for Comeback award
HOUSTON -- Several of Brett Myers' teammates, including Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger, admitted to voting for Myers for the Comeback Player of the Year in the annual Players Choice Award balloting that took place prior to Tuesday's game.
The Players Choice Awards are voted upon by the players in a secret ballot each September in these categories for each league: Outstanding Player, Outstanding Pitcher, Outstanding Rookie and Comeback Player. Myers missed three months last year with the Phillies after having hip surgery.
"He had major surgery and to come back and pitch like he has, why not?" Blum said.
Myers (12-7) was tied for ninth in the league in ERA at 2.85 entering Wednesday, was fourth with 205 innings pitched and had become one of only seven pitchers since 1920 to have thrown at least six innings in 30 consecutive games in a season.
Myers wasn't confident of his chances of winning.
"Nobody knows I had surgery last year, except for me and maybe the Phillies," he said. "I think I told one [teammate] I had surgery, and the guy I told didn't even know."
So who did Myers vote for?
"I didn't vote," he said. "I didn't know anybody to put in there."
Johnson thinks Posey is Rookie of Year
HOUSTON -- The National League Rookie of the Year award, which early in the year seemed destined to go to Atlanta's Jason Heyward, is now up for grabs with Heyward, Florida's Gaby Sanchez, St. Louis' Jaime Garcia, San Francisco's Buster Posey and the Astros' Chris Johnson in the running.
Johnson, who was batting .320 with nine homers and 46 RBIs entering Wednesday, said he believes Posey is the most deserving of the award.
"He's doing awesome, his team is right in it and his numbers are great," Johnson said.
Johnson, who didn't become a full-time starter until July, still figures to be a long shot despite ranking second behind Posey in batting average and ranking in the top 10 in RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage among NL rookies.
With 278 at-bats under his belt prior to Wednesday, Johnson said he has noticed opposing pitchers are starting to approach him differently.
"This is the third time we've played the Brewers, and they did some different stuff from the way they did last time," he said. "I like to watch film before the teams come in, and it's a little different now. Me and [hitting coach Jeff Bagwell] have been working on some adjustments, and we have to think what we're going to do and what they're going to try to do to get me out."
Playoff hopes drive Moehler toward return
HOUSTON -- A little more than two weeks after undergoing surgery on his lower abdomen, veteran Astros right-hander Brian Moehler has started running and looking forward to perhaps playing again next season.
"I'm feeling real good," said Moehler, who went 1-4 with a 4.92 ERA in 20 games (eight starts) this year for Houston. "I'm jogging every day and doing a bunch of exercises now, and I feel real good."
Had the season not been coming to an end, Moehler would be able to start throwing next week, but he's not going to rush that at this point. He's a free agent at the end of the year and is going to prepare like he's going to pitch again next year, with hopes of finally reaching the playoffs.
Moehler reached the Majors in 1996 and has yet to pitch in the postseason.
"The only thing that drives me is making the playoffs," he said. "If I had a ring on my finger, I don't know if I'd play next year, but I've never been to the playoffs. I'd be open to coming back here, because I don't think this team is all that far away at all.
"A lot of the main pieces are in place for this team to be very successful next year. That's something I would be open to. I want to go to the playoffs. I'm jealous of guys I played with and that have rings now. I'm glad some guys, like Michael Young and Mike Sweeney, are going to get to the playoffs for the first time."
In addition to coming to Minute Maid Park in the regular season next year, the Boston Red Sox will play a pair of exhibition games in Houston against the Astros on March 30 (7:05 p.m. CT) and March 31 (12:35 p.m.). ... Matt Lindstrom (23 saves) and Brandon Lyon (16 saves) are the first pair of Astros teammates to have at least 15 saves in a single season. ... First baseman Koby Clemens and outfielder J.B. Shuck were named co-Players of the Year at Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday. Nicaraguan left-hander Douglas Arguello was named Pitcher of the Year after posting a 2.55 ERA, which led the Texas League.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.