Castro hitting his stride at bat, behind plate
After missing 2011 season, backstop making progress for Astros
CHICAGO -- With his playing time on the rise, Astros catcher Jason Castro is making steady progress offensively and defensively. Castro wasn't in the lineup Friday at Wrigley Field, but he had started five of the previous six games.
Castro, who missed all of last season, entered Friday on a 20-for-65 (.308) streak since May 21, having hit both of his home runs in that span. He's also thrown out three of the past five runners who have tried to steal (he's 8-for-38 in that department for the season). Castro has been watching video of his throwing motion from two years ago.
"It was just a matter of slowing myself down," Castro said. "I was getting out in front of myself and trying to be too quick. I watched some film and realized there's a small adjustment I had to make, and as soon as I made it, my throws were right on target and back to how I was throwing a couple of years ago."
When it comes to offense, the increased playing time can only help.
"Any time you can keep the reps up and stay in that rhythm, it's beneficial," Castro said. "I've been feeling really comfortable and getting back to where I need to be. It's showing, and I'm just happy with where I'm at, and hopefully I can just continue to build off that."
Mills: Quick turnaround not necessarily bad
CHICAGO -- The Astros didn't arrive at their hotel in downtown Chicago until 3 a.m. CT Friday, which made for a quick turnaround for a 1:20 p.m. game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Alas, the start of the game was delayed by rain for almost an hour.
Considering Houston gave up six runs in the ninth inning Thursday in a 7-3 loss to the Padres at Minute Maid Park, manager Brad Mills said getting right back on the field wasn't a bad thing.
"It was a tough night, but I was telling some guys that I'm thrilled to death we have an afternoon day game today," Mills said. "We can go to bed, get up and just go play. It's really kind of a blessing in disguise after a rough game like we had last night that we turn around and play right away."
Astros catcher Jason Castro, who wasn't in the lineup Friday, said you have to roll with the schedule.
"It's definitely a different schedule than we're used to, especially traveling and things like that," Castro said. "When game time comes, you just strap it on and go play. It's not like you're really focused on anything else other than the game. After the game might be a different story, but during the game, everyone will be locked in."
Lowrie selected as Astros' player representative
CHICAGO -- Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie was recently elected by his teammates to be the team's player representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association this season. Jason Castro, Justin Maxwell and J.A. Happ are alternate reps.
Lowrie, who attended Stanford, said the job comes with a lot of responsibility, especially with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"I think there's probably going to be many guys asking about it, so I'm going to do my best to answer any questions that I can, and if I can't, I'll refer them to the right people," Lowrie said.
Lowrie hasn't yet had a chance to study the new CBA as closely as he would like to, but he plans to read it thoroughly.
"Obviously, with the season, we're focused on playing right now," Lowrie said. "I'm going to make sure I understand it."
For just the second time this season, the Astros didn't have either second baseman Jose Altuve or shortstop Jed Lowrie in the starting lineup. Lowrie was given a day off, but Altuve was out of the lineup for the fifth consecutive day with a strained hamstring. Astros manager Brad Mills said Altuve is available to pinch-hit, but he's still a couple of days away from returning to the starting lineup.