JUPITER, Fla. -- After J.A. Happ's start was done Wednesday, manager Brad Mills had something to say to him.
The left-hander had just allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings of work in a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in his third Spring Training start.
"I went down and talked to him after and I go, 'You're OK.' I didn't want him to come away and be upset that he gave up those three runs," Mills said.
Happ didn't need his manager's reassurance, though. The 29-year-old was pleased with his outing, too.
"I felt good," he said. "I felt in control and I got them to hit the ball into the ground a lot. I don't think they hit the ball real hard, and I tried to keep them off balance. I think it went well."
One of the most impressive aspects of Happ's performance was that he struck out three batters and walked none, which was not the case in his previous two spring starts.
Entering Wednesday's outing, he had walked four batters and struck out just one this spring. That changed quickly against the Cardinals, as he threw 51 of his 68 pitches for strikes.
"That was something I wanted to do a better job at," Happ said. "Especially with strike one and trying to be in control of the count and trying to keep the hitters off balance."
Astros sign Powell to Minor League contract
JUPITER, Fla. -- Although catcher Humberto Quintero continues to make progress toward returning from a bulging disk, the Astros added some depth behind the plate on Wednesday.
Houston signed catcher Landon Powell to a Minor League contract. After spending the past three seasons with the A's, he was released by Oakland on Friday. The move did not affect the Astros' 40-man roster.
"I talked to him this morning when he walked in, and he said he can't wait to get going because he hadn't done much in three or four days," Houston manager Brad Mills said.
Powell, who will turn 30 on Monday, arrived at the Astros' Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, Fla., on Wednesday and already caught a bullpen session.
In his three seasons in the Majors, the 2004 first-round Draft pick has hit .207 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 363 at-bats. In each season, Powell's hitting numbers have gone down, as he recorded a .229 batting average in 2009, then a .214 batting average in '10 and completed the trend by hitting .171 last year.
Now, Powell has to find a way to make Houston's roster.
"We'll see how it goes," Mills said of Powell's chances of making the club. "You hate to limit anybody or limit the other guys that are here, so we are just going to go and play and see what happens as we move forward."
Luhnow reunites with former team
JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow saw a lot of familiar faces on Wednesday.
Before Luhnow was hired by Houston in the offseason, he had been a vice president with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2003. And on Wednesday, when he returned to St. Louis' Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Fla., as the Astros took on the Cardinals, it was like he never left.
"It's exhilarating, having spent the last eight Spring Trainings here and coming back," Luhnow said. "I walked into the ballpark and shook hands with people and saw a lot of players.
"It is mixed emotions, because I root for these guys. They're all players and people that I've worked with for so many years, but at the same time, they're now on the other side of the field from us and our objective is to beat them."
But Luhnow won't forget his time in St. Louis. He wants to use his experience there to help him in his new role in Houston.
"The Cardinals have been around for a long time and they've had a lot of success," Luhnow said. "Winning 11 world championships doesn't come without doing a lot of things the right way. And I think I learned a lot of things that I call best practices. The Cardinals have a lot of best practices, but so do some other organizations, and what we want to do in Houston is aggregate all the best practices in the industry and then also create our own."
Lyles to start Minor League game
JUPITER, Fla. -- With Zach Duke scheduled to take the mound against the Blue Jays, Jordan Lyles is expected to pitch in a Minor League game on Thursday.
The Astros want to make sure to give Lyles the chance to get his pitches in, and there isn't enough of an opportunity for him to do that with a logjam of pitchers in Houston's Spring Training camp.
Anthony Chiang is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.