PITTSBURGH -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the National League with 15 multi-hit games and is tied for fifth with 40 hits, was moved to the third spot in the order on Friday, where he'll likely stay for the three-game series against the Pirates.
Altuve has batted primarily second this year, though he's also hit first, sixth and eighth. J.D. Martinez has been the Astros' primary No. 3 hitter this year, but manager Brad Mills is giving him a few days off in the midst of a 0-for-21 slump.
"I was going over some stuff on the plane last night and was kind of looking at some things and looking at this ballpark and so forth," Mills said. "There were a lot of things I liked about [batting Altuve third]. I'll keep those to myself, but there were a lot of things I liked about it."
As for Martinez, expect him to return to the lineup this weekend. Mills wouldn't commit to when he would write Martinez's name in the lineup card, but Friday marked the third consecutive game he didn't start. Justin Maxwell started in left field.
"[Martinez] came out for early hitting," Mills said. "He came out and looked really good swinging the bat. I'm just giving him a chance to clear his head a little bit. I think he's getting to where he needs to be."
Maxwell brings No. 44 back to field
PITTSBURGH -- The Astros haven't had a player wear No. 44 in a regular-season game since Roy Oswalt was traded midway through the 2010 season. That changed on Friday night at PNC Park, when Justin Maxwell - wearing No. 44 - started in left field.
Maxwell, acquired on waivers from the Yankees on April 8, was wearing No. 22, but made a deal with bullpen coach Craig Bjornson to take his No. 44, effective Friday. Bjornson, who always wears a pullover that hides his number anyway, switched to No. 50.
"It's just the number I usually wear in the Minors and it's the first time I get to wear it in the big leagues," Maxwell said. "I asked Craig Bjornson if I could have the number and he said, 'Sure.' I kind of threw it out there instead of just attacking him."
When Maxwell joined the Astros, he asked equipment manager Carl Schneider if he could have No. 44, but it wasn't available. Maxwell decided to wait a month before asking Bjornson.
"I didn't want to come in here and say, 'Hey guys, how's it going? Can I have your number?'" joked Maxwell, who said he's going to give Bjornson something in return.
Oswalt, among the greatest pitchers in franchise history, wore No. 44 from 2001-10. Pitcher Sergio Escalona wore the number last year in Spring Training, but switched to No .52 in the regular season.
Happy homecoming for Carpenter
PITTSBURGH -- A trip to the Steel City means Astros pitcher David Carpenter and bench coach Joe Pettini get a chance to sleep in their own beds.
Carpenter is from Fairmont, W.V., which is about 90 miles from Pittsburgh. His father picked him up at the airport when the team arrived on Thursday night and drove him to the family's house. Several friends and family members are expected to be in attendance all this week.
"It's always enjoyable to get a chance to come back to where I came and watched a lot of games when I was young," Carpenter said. "To get the family to come up and watch games is nice. I really enjoy a chance to get to play in front of some familiar eyes."
No matter what Carpenter does in his career, he will never been known as the most famous athlete from Fairmont, which is the hometown of Gold Medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton, who has lived for years in Houston. Alabama football coach Nick Saban is also from Fairmont.
Pettini is from Bethany, W.V., which is about 52 miles from Pittsburgh.