HOUSTON -- Astros owner Drayton McLane, manager Brad Mills, first-base coach Bobby Meacham and several players had lunch Tuesday afternoon with former President George Bush at his office in west Houston. Bush invites several members of the Astros each year for lunch.
"I was starstruck when I saw him and [former first lady] Barbara [Bush]," Astros third baseman Chris Johnson said. "It was awesome and a huge honor they invited us to have lunch."
Johnson was joined by teammates Hunter Pence, Brett Wallace and Mark Melancon. Bush treated the group to a lunch consisting of salad and pizza and then gave the players and staff prizes, such as an autographed baseball with the presidential seal and presidential cufflinks.
"It shows what a gracious person he and Barbara are," McLane said. "The players have their picture taken individually with each and as a group, and he and Barbara tell stories about being world leaders. I've been 15 times, and every time I hear something and see something new and get inspired."
Wallace was only 2 years old when Bush took office in 1989, but he understood the significance of getting to meet the 41st President.
"It's unbelievable to get a chance to sit down with a former President and talk to him about different things from presidential life to his son's presidency and all those things," Wallace said. "It's a one-in-a-lifetime experience, and something I'll definitely cherish for the rest of my life."
Mills enjoys new view, but glad to be back
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills was back in the dugout Wednesday, one day after serving a one-game suspension on the heels of his ejection from Sunday's game. Mills watched Tuesday's 11-2 win over the Cubs from a suite, but he said nothing beats being back on the bench.
"It's good to be back here in the dugout," he said. "The best part of the day is 7:05 p.m. It was taken away [Tuesday], but it is good to be back."
Mills didn't completely take the night off. He took the opportunity to watch the game from a different angle and made some notes he later shared with bench coach Al Pedrique, who managed in Mills' place on Tuesday.
"Al and I had talked before the game about what we were going to look at and so on and so forth," Mills said. "But with the guys playing so well and jumping out to a lead like they did, it was more of kind of observing how things were.
"It was kind of neat being able to get a different perspective of looking at positioning and things that happen during ballgames you never see when you're down there."
Major League Baseball also handed down a three-game suspension and a fine for right-handed pitcher Aneury Rodriguez, who is appealing the suspension. Rodriguez and Mills were tossed after the rookie hit a Marlins player with a pitch, two innings after a warning had been issued when Astros second baseman Bill Hall was hit by a pitch.
Plunking forces Johnson out of lineup
HOUSTON -- Third baseman Chris Johnson was held out of the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Cubs because of swelling and bruising on the back of his left arm, near his elbow. Johnson was hit by a pitch in Tuesday's win and still didn't have his full range of motion to swing.
"It's swollen today and I had a little trouble bending it," he said. "I tried to put a patch on it last night to get the swelling down and came in today and it was swollen and black and blue in there. It was right on my elbow. I'm going to take some hacks today and try to fight through it."
With Johnson out of the lineup, Matt Downs started in his place at third base. Johnson's three hit by pitches are the most in the Majors this year. He was hitting .189 (7-for-37) through Tuesday's game but was hoping to return to the lineup Wednesday.
"Hopefully the swelling will be down tomorrow just so I can get that range of motion back," he said. "It's not really too painful. I just can't extend my arm."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.