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08/11/10 9:20 PM ET

Johnson moves into heart of lineup

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills couldn't ignore the urge to move red-hot rookie third baseman Chris Johnson into the heart of the batting order, penciling Johnson's name in the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the first time this year in Wednesday's 8-2 loss in 10 innings.

Johnson went 0-for-2, but plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and worked a walk in the seventh.

Entering Wednesday, Johnson led the Major Leagues in batting since the All-Star break with a .442 average. He had the third-highest OPS (on-base plus slugging) in the big leagues behind Toronto's Jose Bautista and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.

"He just keeps throwing out hits and keeps getting big hits, so I bumped him up a little bit to fifth," Mills said. "He's making it tough to leave him in that spot [sixth], and I wanted to give him more credit for what he's accomplished the last couple of weeks by being able to do that. This isn't going to be written in stone."

Mills had Jeff Keppinger back in the No. 2 hole, with shortstop Angel Sanchez hitting seventh to break up left-handers Brett Wallace at sixth and Jason Castro at eighth. The roll-with-the-punches Johnson said he doesn't care where he hits.

"I talked to Millsie about it and I told him, 'I'm going to have the same approach no matter where I'm hitting,'" Johnson said. "I do realize they're probably going to pitch me maybe a little bit different with guys on base, but I'm not really a guy that worries where I am in the lineup."

Lindstrom gets days off to rest back

HOUSTON -- After blowing his second save in as many chances Tuesday night against the Braves, closer Matt Lindstrom was deemed unavailable to pitch by manager Brad Mills. Lindstrom has been bothered by back spasms the past few weeks, and Mills wants him to take a couple of days off to get better.

"His back is pretty stiff," Mills said. "He wants to get the thing taken care of, I want it to get taken care of and we all want it to get taken care of. He's going to be down two days, and if there's something that's going to be done with it medically, we'll cross that road."

The normally reliable Lindstrom blew a save Friday, in which he gave up a homer, before allowing two home runs in the ninth inning to the Braves on Tuesday. He had allowed only one home run prior to Friday.

"He's such a hard worker and a guy that wants to keep doing things," Mills said. "It's hard for him to walk by a dumbbell and not pick it up. He's that type of guy. We love him for it, and that's the reason he's got the ability, because he's able to work so much. He's so conscientious. Sometimes that might work against him, and this is one of the cases where it might have worked against him. He works hard, and he's a guy you pull for all the time."

Paulino to get second opinion on shoulder

HOUSTON -- Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who's been on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, traveled to Pensacola, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon and will be examined Thursday morning by orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Paulino is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list later this month, but hasn't been able to throw off the mound.

"I can play catch and I feel better, but at the same time I'm being careful with myself," said Paulino, who is 1-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts. "I've played catch for six or seven days. I wanted a second opinion, because I wanted to hear something, because it takes too long to recover."

Paulino is hoping to avoid surgery and to be able to pitch again this year. The Astros have been patient with him because of his electric arm, but they'll need him to prove he's healthy at some point.

"I've tried to do everything step-by-step, and I want to know what's going on with my shoulder, because I've done everything right to get better," Paulino said.

Astros sign Cuban defector Quintero

HOUSTON -- The Astros made official the signing of 25th-round Draft pick Rodney Quintero, a Cuban defector who gained asylum in Chile and has since become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He will report to Rookie League Greeneville.

Quintero, who earlier this week saw his father in Miami for the first time in three years, pitched semi-pro baseball in the Miami area last year before enrolling in college. The Astros picked up on him quickly because of his 90-94-mph fastball and good breaking stuff.

"He had an up-and-down year, but we saw more good than bad," Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said. "We saw power stuff and a guy that needed to develop innings. He has a chance to be a middle- and maybe a back-end-of-the-rotation starter."

The Astros have signed 33 players from this year's Draft and six non-drafted free agents. They are in negotiations with four more players, including third-round pick Austin Wates, and hope to sign at least three of them before Monday's deadline.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.