HOUSTON -- Jordan Schafer has made a good first impression with the Astros since coming over from the Braves in the Michael Bourn trade last month.
Schafer entered Wednesday's game hitting .333 (11-for-33) with a home run and four RBIs in his first nine games with the Astros, who have him hitting leadoff and starting in center field to replace Bourn. Schafer was 5-for-12 in his past three games.
"I feel like I can compete in a lot of different ways," he said. "If it's not defense, then it's bunting guys over and stealing a base if I get on by a walk. I think that helps you keep you around the game a bit longer, being able to help your team win in different aspects of the game."
Schafer is still trying to get himself fully back into game shape after spending about a month on the disabled list with an injured joint in one of his fingers, an injury suffered while he was playing for the Braves.
"I think it's still going to take time," he said. "I've been playing now for maybe 10 days after not playing in three weeks. I think it's going to take a little time, but I feel good. It's just a matter of being able to get consistent and do it on a daily basis."
Astros give Barmes an extra day of rest
HOUSTON -- With the Astros having a rare off-day on Thursday, manager Brad Mills took the opportunity on Wednesday to give shortstop Clint Barmes an extended period of rest. Angel Sanchez got a rare start at shortstop.
Mills said the Astros will miss Barmes' defense more than anything when he's not playing, but he felt it was important to give him some rest.
"Any time you take him out of the lineup, it's tough to lose his glove," he said. "He had been playing second base the last couple of years, and he's been at shortstop all this year. It starts to wear on you a little bit, and I just thought it was good today [for a day off]."
It also didn't hurt that Barmes was 1-for-10 in his career with four strikeouts against Pirates starter James McDonald. Expect Barmes to be back in the lineup for Friday's series opener against the Brewers.
"Hopefully he'll get some fresh legs under him and be ready to go," Mills said.
Martinez having record month for a rookie
HOUSTON -- Rookie outfielder J.D. Martinez has had an August to remember at the plate.
Martinez, called up a month ago when the Astros traded Hunter Pence to the Phillies, entered Wednesday's game with 28 RBIs in the month, which is the most by an Astros rookie in any month in franchise history. He's also one shy of the National League rookie record for August, owned by Todd Helton (1998) and David Justice (1990).
"That's cool, without a doubt," Martinez said. "If I could have a career like they had, I'd be happy. It's a dream come true. Right now, the numbers are nice, but they're just numbers. They don't mean anything tomorrow. It's what you do today."
Martinez, second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Jimmy Paredes, all of whom were in Double-A Corpus Christi as recently as July 18, were hitting a combined .303 with 26 doubles, nine home runs and 53 RBIs coming into Wednesday's game.
Astros manager Brad Mills was pleasantly surprised with how well injured catcher Jason Castro was blocking balls and throwing to the bases Tuesday as he continued his rehab from March knee surgery. Mills said that he'd probably have to limit Castro's starts next year because of the knee injury, which means he might have to carry a third catcher in 2012.