ST. LOUIS -- After playing in back-to-back nine-inning games for the first time since returning from a right knee injury that kept him sidelined for nearly two months, shortstop Jed Lowrie was held out of the Astros' starting lineup for Thursday's day game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium to give the knee a day of rest.
"Personally, I don't think he's 100 percent with that knee," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I think there's still some stuff going on in there and he's playing with that big knee brace. Two days in a row is good for him."
Lowrie has a five-game hitting streak, having batted .250 (5-for-20) since missing 52 games with the injury to his right ankle and leg. Lowrie understands he has to be worked back into full-time duty.
"I'm happy with the way the knee responded," Lowrie said. "That's the plan -- continue to build up the strength toward the end of the year. Hopefully at the end of the year, I'll be playing every day and the legs will be good to go."
With Lowrie out, rookie Marwin Gonzalez started at shortstop, seeing his first action since injuring his left ankle on Aug. 30.
"It's good to see Gonzo back," DeFrancesco said. "He's not 100 percent running right now, but defensively, he says he can move around out there. We need him back in the lineup. He's a guy we're planning on being our utility guy for next season, and we want to make sure he finishes the season strong and gets some at-bats and gets into the groove."
Meanwhile, shortstop Tyler Greene is hobbled with right knee soreness.
"He went out and ran and said he can go," DeFrancesco said. "Gonzo is going to give us as much as he can, and probably late in the game, [we'll] have to double-switch him out there and get Greene to play some shortstop. That's the plan."
Hoping to return this year, Schafer can't yet swing
ST. LOUIS -- More than a week after he aggravated his left shoulder diving for a ball in Cincinnati, Astros outfielder Jordan Schafer still isn't able to lift his arm over his head, much less swing a bat. He's been limited to pinch-running duties since Sept. 9.
Schafer was on the disabled list from Aug. 7 to Sept. 1 with a separated left shoulder.
"It's slowly gotten better, but it's not to the point to where I can really do anything yet," Schafer said. "I've tried the last couple of days, but it still bothers me and I haven't even tried to swing yet. It was getting better until I dove in Cincinnati and I landed awkward again, and it hasn't gotten [completely] better."
Schafer, who's hitting .211 this season, is hoping to get back in the batter's box by the end of the season, which is less than two weeks away.
"We don't have too much time for it to get better," Schafer said.
Astros honor prospects DeShields, Foltynewicz
ST. LOUIS -- Astros prospects Delino DeShields Jr., a second baseman, and right-handed pitcher Mike Foltynewicz have been named the club's Minor League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. They'll be recognized on Friday at Minute Maid Park before the Astros take on the Pirates. MLB.com ranks DeShields as the fifth-best prospect in Houston's organization and Foltynewicz as the seventh best.
DeShields hit a combined .287 (154-for-537) with a .389 on-base percentage, 12 homers, 61 RBIs and 101 stolen bases for Class A Lexington (111 games) and Class A Advanced Lancaster (24 games). He's the first player in the history of the Astros organization to swipe at least 100 bases in a season.
Foltynewicz spent the entire season in Lexington and went 14-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 27 starts. A first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, the 6-foot-4 Foltynewicz allowed 145 hits and 62 walks, striking out 125 batters in 152 innings. He went 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA in the first half of the season.
Meanwhile, infielder Austin Elkins of Tri-City -- a Class A Short Season affiliate -- was named the Offensive Player of the Postseason for the New York-Penn League by MiLB.com, and infielder Jonathan Meyer of Lancaster received the same honor for the California League. Elkins had 10 hits in six playoff games, and Meyer drove in 10 runs in 10 games to help the JetHawks to the league title.
The Astros have three prospects playing in this week's qualifying round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic held in Florida and Germany. Infielder Ben Orloff and right-hander Josh Zeid are playing in Jupiter, Fla., for Israel, which is being managed by former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus. Left-handed pitcher Alex Sogard is playing for the Czech Republic, which is playing in Rosenburg, Germany.
The Astros acquired left-hander Theron Geith from the Rays on Thursday, completing the Aug. 31 trade that sent outfielder Ben Francisco to Tampa Bay.
Geith spent this season with high Class A Charlotte, going 0-3 with two saves and a 2.98 ERA in 31 relief appearances. In 54 1/3 innings, he allowed 48 hits and 11 walks while striking out 49.
This was the 23-year-old's second professional season after the Rays selected him in the 39th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.