BOSTON -- Astros relief pitcher Travis Blackley was last month named the 2012 Australian Player of the Year by the Australian Baseball Federation for his performance with the Oakland A's. His parents will accept the award on his behalf at the 2013 Baseball Australia Diamond Awards on the Gold Coast.
"They hit me up and said I had been chosen as the recipient," Blackley said. "It's a pretty big honor. Pretty much every Major League [Aussie] player who's had a decent year has won it. It kind of took me by surprise, but it's pretty awesome to be recognized as the Player of the Year for your country."
Blackley, who was acquired by Houston in a trade on April 4, went 6-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 28 games last year for the A's and the Giants, including 15 starts. He played a key role in the A's run toward the playoffs, as the team won eight of his last 12 starts.
Blackley joked that fellow Aussie Grant Balfour might have deserved the award more, but said he has already won it.
"They tried to get a fresh one in there," he said. "It was also because of the path I've taken. I went from being a guy that was looked at as maybe going to have a long career and then didn't pan out and really had to work through some stuff to get back. I think that was another big reason why I won it."
Blackley, who missed 13 games while on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain shortly after he joined the Astros said he's grateful Houston took a chance on him.
"It's a good bunch of guys," he said. "There's a lot of talent, and when we start playing well as a team and mesh well together, the results will start coming consistently. It reminds me a lot of Oakland last year. There were a lot of younger players who were dominant in [Triple-A] Sacramento and weren't panning out, but then all of a sudden they started panning out at the same time. It's going to happen here."
Maxwell sidelined 4-6 weeks by left hand fracture
BOSTON -- Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell, who fractured his left hand on Tuesday, is expected to be out four to six weeks, the team announced Friday.
Maxwell, 29, fractured the fifth metacarpal of his left hand but does not require surgery. He is currently in a splint. Maxwell started the Astros' first 20 games in center field and played every inning this year before exiting Tuesday's game against Seattle after the fourth inning.
"That's good news. They say four to six weeks, but he'll be able to swing within the four-week frame and in six weeks he's back playing," said manager Bo Porter.
"Whenever you see something like that and you hear fracture, it could always be worse. That's encouraging news, and four to six weeks of the baseball season, you take that over a long, extended absence."
Meanwhile, the Astros announced left-handed pitcher Rudy Owens, who is on the 40-man roster and currently assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, has been sidelined with a stress fracture of his left foot that will require surgery. He will miss up to five months.
Owens, 25, will have surgery in Houston on Monday. Following the procedure, he will be in a walking boot for approximately six weeks. Owens made four appearances for Oklahoma City this season, posting a 3.71 ERA.
Astros to host '42' screenings for UYA players
BOSTON -- The Astros and Major League Baseball will play host to two private screenings of the new Jackie Robinson movie "42" for youngsters from the Urban Youth Academy, the first of which will take place Saturday in Houston. The participants will get free movie tickets and food while in the theater.ci
The Astros Foundation is also planning a second screening later in May with another group from the UYA, as well as a group from the Astros Community Leaders program, for whom the Astros Foundation and its partners have refurbished baseball fields in a number of low-income neighborhoods.
Participants in both programs, which cater specifically to disadvantaged youth, will discuss the film with Astros personnel and share their own experiences and reactions after the film. The movie details Jackie Robinson's battle to break baseball's color barrier.
"'42' brilliantly depicts not only the proudest and most powerful event in baseball history, but also a watershed moment in American history and the civil rights movement," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "This film is a profound way for all of us throughout Major League Baseball to educate our next generation about Jackie Robinson's vital impact on our nation."
Grossman's father comes to see him play at Fenway
BOSTON -- When Rob Grossman looked at the Astros schedule and saw his son would be playing at Fenway Park this weekend, he knew he was going to have to be there.
Grossman, whose son, Robbie, made his Major League debut on Wednesday against Seattle and went 2-for-5 with two doubles, attended his first game at Fenway Park on Friday, with his son leading off and playing center field for the Astros. Grossman went 0-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.
"I saw the schedule and I said, 'I'm going. I have to go,'" the elder Grossman said. "It will send some tingles down my spine because it's just such a fantastic venue."
Rob Grossman, who grew up in Cincinnati as a Reds fan, lived in Boston shortly after graduating from the Miami University (Ohio), but never was able to make a game. Getting a chance to see his son play at Fenway made the wait worth it.
"This is a fantastic venue and I figured you never know how long these things last," he said. "I wanted to see him play here. It's such a historical park."
The Grossmans now live in the Houston area, so they'll be attending as many games as they can at Minute Maid Park.