MIAMI -- The First-Year Player Draft is less than two months away, and the Astros have been doing their due diligence to make sure they make the right choice with the No. 1 overall pick. It's the third time in Houston history (1976, 1992) it's had the first pick.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he tries to make sure the team has a scout at every game involving players who might be taken no. 1 overall. That includes Byron Buxton, an athletic high school center fielder from Georgia.
"We're looking at everybody, and he's one of the guys we're looking at," Luhnow said. "We not only have the top pick, but we also have a compensation pick, so you never know how it's going to go. We're being comprehensive in our coverage. The guys we believe are in contention for that first pick, we're at almost every one of their games or every game, depending how easy it is to get there."
Luhnow doesn't expect the Astros to decide who they're going to take until close to the Draft, considering there's no clear-cut No. 1 pick like has been the case in years past in Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.
"We want as much information as possible, so we're going to watch them all the way up to the end," Luhnow said. "We'll have a lot of discussions that will involve [owner] Jim [Crane] and [president and CEO] George [Postolos] and everybody and figure out what the decision is at the end. We don't know how the signability is going to work with the new [Collective Bargaining Agreement] rule or if it's going to be easy or hard. A lot of that will ultimately play out in the 48 hours leading up to the Draft."
Buck carving niche as pinch-hitter in Houston
MIAMI -- Astros outfielder Travis Buck, who had a clutch pinch-hit single in the Astros' four-run, ninth-inning rally Saturday, has adapted quite well to the role of pinch-hitter. Buck, playing in the National League for the first time in his career, has developed a routine that works for him.
"In the fourth or fifth inning, I go up and take some swings in the cage every inning we're on defense, and by watching some video of guys we could possibly face, I definitely feel comfortable," he said. "As a pinch-hitter, you have to have the aggressive mentality, because the majority of the time it's going to be our only at-bat. It definitely works in my favor, and so far, I've had a little bit of success."
Buck had a walk, single, double and triple in his five pinch-hit appearances prior to Sunday, and he is 6-for-20 in his career as a pinch-hitter, which he didn't do much of while playing in the American League the first five years of his career.
Buck has leaned heavily on Astros third-base coach Dave Clark, a good pinch-hitter in his own right, for advice on how to do the job.
"The more guys you can pick their brains about what made them successful as a pinch-hitter, the better," Buck said. "This is the first time I've been in the National League. The best thing about it is if you're not starting, you're going to get a chance to play every day. It's definitely a place where I feel most comfortable right now and have had a little bit of success."
Houston's win Saturday marked the second time in the last 29 years that the Astros won a road game in which they trailed by three or more runs in the ninth inning (also accomplished at Pittsburgh in 2006).
Schafer dizzy, but fine after knee to the head
MIAMI -- Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer was a little woozy following Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Marlins after taking a knee to the head in the 11th inning. Astros manager Brad Mills said Schafer is day to day.
Schafer reached on an error to start the inning and was thrown out trying to steal second base on a head-first slide, but his head struck the knee of Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes, who applied the tag. Schafer walked off the field under his own power and was removed from the game.
"His knee kind of hit me in the head, and I got real dizzy," Schafer said. "I feel fine. It's nothing serious."
Schafer went 0-for-5 with a walk Sunday against the Marlins and has reached base safely in all nine games this season. He's hitting .242 with a .405 on-base percentage and has walked nine times as the leadoff hitter.
Miami bobblehead museum has Astros feel
MIAMI -- One of the features of new Marlins Park is an extensive collection of baseball bobbleheads that is on display on the main concourse behind home plate. The display has a large Astros presence, and for good reason.
Steve Perry, the Astros visiting clubhouse manager, contributed more than 600 bobbleheads from his personal collection that had been on display in his office at Minute Maid Park for years. Perry and clubhouse assistant Charlie Cabrera spent a week following the season boxing up the bobbleheads and personally drove them to Miami to the office of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
"About six years ago, he was in here and he liked the collection and thought they should be in a museum," Perry said. "Last year, at the end of August, he called me and said they were building a museum down in the new stadium and asked if he could display them in the museum, and I said, 'Sure.' We packed them up and drove them down."
Perry, who has collected bobbleheads for years, didn't want to risk having any of them get broken by shipping them, so he rented a trailer and hand-delivered them.
"I didn't have the original boxes for them, so I had to go to U-Haul and get tall boxes they put glasses in that have individual cells," he said. "It took us a while to wrap each one in bubble wrap and put it in [packing] popcorn."
Perry hopes to see the museum in person one day, but for now, he doesn't miss the bobbleheads.
"I don't miss dusting them," he said.
The Astros made out a special lineup card from Saturday's game and presented it to relief pitcher Rhiner Cruz, who threw two scoreless innings against the Marlins to get his first win in the Major Leagues.
Monday's game between the Astros and Nationals from Washington will not be carried on television in Houston, but will be available on MLB.TV.