Astros hope to have Keppinger back Friday
Infielder extended stay at Triple-A to play back-to-back games
HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said Tuesday he's hopeful veteran infielder Jeff Keppinger will be able to join the club by Friday.
Keppinger, who has been on the disabled list the entire season after undergoing foot surgery on Jan. 14, has played in 11 games during his Minor League rehab stint, splitting his time between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was 1-for-4 on Tuesday for the RedHawks.
"I'm optimistic by the weekend he'll be back," Wade said. "We asked him to extend his stay at Oklahoma City to get back-to-back games under his belt. If everything moves in a straight line, we're looking at Friday or Saturday."
Keppinger, 31, hit .288 for the Astros last year, led the team with 34 doubles and had 59 RBIs in 137 games. He wrestled the starting second-base job away from Kaz Matsui in May and became arguably the Astros' most consistent player. Keppinger has been playing strictly second base while on his rehab assignment.
Hall credits simple ritual to upswing at dish
HOUSTON -- Astros second baseman Bill Hall doesn't contribute his recent tear at the plate to any mechanical issues he fixed in his swing. Instead, Hall's good fortune is a result of one of baseball's simplest rituals -- keep your eyes on the ball.
Hall, who entered Tuesday's tilt hitting .343 in his previous 10 games and went 4-for-4 in Monday's 4-3 win over the Dodgers with two doubles, attributes his success to watching the ball and the pitcher with both eyes.
"I was getting in the box and I was pretty much hitting with one eye," he said. "I have an open stance, but once I closed off, I really wasn't using my right eye to stay on the ball. It was making me make decisions a lot quicker than I wanted to."
The four-hit game was Hall's highest total this season and the most pokes he's had since a 4-for-5 performance in June against Oakland, while he was playing with Boston.
Hall said he's seeing the ball better and deeper into his swing, so he doesn't need to pull the trigger as quickly.
"I thought it was a lot of other things early in the season," Hall said. "You start changing things that probably aren't even the right thing to change. But hopefully I got it right this time."
Bourn's terrific slide draws high praise
HOUSTON -- Michael Bourn's terrific slide in the bottom of the ninth inning of Monday's 4-3 walk-off win, in which he managed to sneak his left hand onto the plate and score the winning run -- despite the plate being blocked -- drew high praise from his teammates.
"Bourn is a ridiculous athlete," said right fielder Hunter Pence, who stroked the winning single. "I'm pretty sure he's capable of some amazing plays, and I'd pay to watch him play. I get paid to play with him, and that's even better. He's got that athleticism. I know that he's faster than almost anyone in the league, and I'm not surprised he did something special."
Second baseman Bill Hall said Bourn is an "unbelievable athlete."
"Any time you're as fast as he is, you have to have some athleticism," Hall said. "He has a lot of fast-twitch muscles. He's got more fast-twitch muscles than most guys in the world. He keeps his body in great shape and he doesn't get hurt.
"A lot of fast guys can get hurt, but he's in great shape and takes care of his body. He's only going to get better playing baseball. I don't think he's reached close to what he can be. I'm not saying he's not doing well right now, but he's going to be able to get a lot better."
Astros set to hold annual pre-Draft workout
HOUSTON -- The Astros will hold their annual pre-Draft workout June 2 at Minute Maid Park in preparation for the First-Year Player Draft, which begins four days later. A few dozen prospects from Texas and across the country have been invited to attend.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said the club is still putting together its list of invitees, which is being impacted by a pair of other teams with workouts scheduled on the same day.
"It's nice to be able to do it," Wade said. "The lion's share of the work that's done with regard to evaluating talent, that's already been handled by the tons of looks our guys get over the course of the entire year. I think at this point, we've entered well over 600 players in our system and we've got over 1,700 reports on players.
"The pre-Draft workout is great because it gives us a chance to get kids in our environment here for a short period of time, and some of us that haven't been [scouting] get to see them. I think it also helps from the standpoint of the player, and to some respect the family, getting familiar with the surroundings and the people. We have a first-class facility and we're very proud of it, and to bring as many kids into here as possible is a positive."
The Astros, who hold the No. 11 selection in the first round, have had their past two first-round picks -- Delino DeShields Jr. and Jiovanni Mier -- attend the workout. Minor League prospects Jordan Lyles, Ross Seaton, Jay Austin and Mike Kvasnicka also attended in the past.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. Rowan Kavner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.