HOUSTON -- After starting slow at the plate the last two years, Carlos Lee feels much better where he's at offensively nearing the end of the first week of the season. Sure, it's a small sample, but Lee is pleased.
He entered Wednesday's game against the Braves hitting .389 with one homer and six RBIs and a .476 on-base percentage in 18 at-bats.
"Before I left Spring Training, I was feeling pretty good," said Lee, who hit .183 in April in 2010 and .194 in April in '11. "I've kind of figured out a good batting stance and it's helping a lot."
Lee has noticed teams are pitching around him with runners in scoring position, though the Braves threw him an inside fastball in the seventh inning Tuesday. Lee responded with an RBI single in his 3-for-3 night with two walks.
"It's kind of early to say, but you can see every time there's people in scoring position they don't come to me," he said. "I was surprised [Tuesday] late in the game when they pitched to me. I was like, 'Whoa.' It caught me by surprise, but I'll take it."
Schafer victimizes former club with three steals
HOUSTON -- Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer has the green light to run pretty much whenever he wants, and he certainly took advantage of that on Tuesday when he swiped a career-high three bases against the Braves, his former team.
Schafer entered the season with 24 stolen bases in 132 Major League games and should dwarf that total if he remains healthy this season.
"We'll see at the end of the year," he said. "I think I should be able to steal a lot of bases. As far as any certain number, I have no idea."
Schafer stole second in the third inning Tuesday and second and third in the fifth, all with Braves starter Tommy Hanson on the mound. Schafer was on first in the seventh, but didn't run with reliever Kris Medlen on the mound.
"I pretty much have the green light the entire time," he said. "Obviously, the situation in the game determines if I'm going to go. Medlin is 1.1 [seconds], 1.15 to the plate. We're down three runs there and I'm not going to take the chance with a guy that's 1.1. That's just running into an out.
"It's just kind of being smart and picking your times to go. Obviously, Tommy takes his time a little bit and he's a guy you can run on."
Mills pleased to see Wright emerge in 'pen
HOUSTON -- Reliever Wesley Wright's first season in the Majors came in 2008, when the Rule 5 Draft pick from the Dodgers appeared in 71 games for the Astros. He's bounced between the Majors and Minor since -- as well as starting and relieving -- and is one of the longest current tenured Astros.
Houston manager Brad Mills has said he would like to carry two left-handers in the bullpen, but with only one lefty reliever at his disposal now, he's glad it's Wright.
"I thought last year at the end of the season or halfway through the year, Wesley really jumped a hurdle," Mills said. "He started knowing himself a little bit more, what he could or couldn't do. I remembered last Spring Training he changed his whole arm location and was throwing [sidearmed].
"He found out that didn't work and wanted to come back up, and when he came back up, he knew there had to be something different that allowed him to pitch at the Major League level. He had to learn what those things were. He came up the last month of last season and pitched extremely well and set the stage for being a solid left-handed reliever out of the 'pen for us this year."