08/19/10 2:10 AM ET
Lyon charged with closing duties
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Lindstrom was temporarily removed from the closer's role on Tuesday after a series of struggles, some of which were because of a back problem he's been dealing with. Lyon didn't close Tuesday's game because he had pitched six of the previous seven games, but he's not worried about what role manager Brad Mills chooses to use him in.
"I'm going to go out there and do what I can to help the team win," he said. "Whatever situation they call on me, I'll be ready. If they call me earlier, then I'll be ready then, too. For me, it doesn't matter."
Lyon, who signed a three-year, $15-million deal with the club in December, is certainly capable of handling the closing duties, considering he has 58 career saves, including 26 with Arizona in 2008 and four with the Astros this season.
"Matty has been battling with back injuries and trying to figure things out," Lyon said. "He just needs to get out there in situations he doesn't have to think as much as just go throw the ball. I've talked to him about it, and we've been back and forth all year. It's a matter of him going out there and putting things out of his mind and throwing the ball again.
"He'll be fine. I know him. He's a great pitcher and has good stuff. It's a tough situation any time you feel you got demoted, but it's not a demotion. He's not going anywhere. He's still in the big leagues. ... It's good for everybody to go through a [tough] period and make adjustments and have to battle back through it."
Pence continues to swing red-hot bat
HOUSTON -- Right fielder Hunter Pence entered play on Wednesday with a season-high .287 batting average after going a sizzling 12-for-24 in his previous six games with eight runs scored, four doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.
Pence, whose .232 average in April seems like a distant memory, is hitting .309 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs since May 8. He has hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games (.383) and has reached base in a career-best 22 consecutive games.
"I try to get as much as I can out of the talent I have," Pence said. "If I knew that there was something I could do to get better, and do better for the team and help us win more, by all means let me know and I'll do it. That's how I go about every day and ever year.
"I try to give everything I have to get ready for each year and be prepared to succeed through the whole year. I was confused why I wasn't hitting earlier because I know I put in the work. To me, if you prepare yourself properly you're going to succeed."
Pence needs seven homers to tie his career high of 25 and 17 RBIs to reach his career high of 83. He already owns a career-high 15 stolen bases.
Lindstrom lands on DL with bad back
HOUSTON -- Matt Lindstrom, who has been battling back problems for several weeks, was placed on the 15-day disabled list following Wednesday's loss to the Mets.
The Astros recalled left-hander Fernando Abad from Triple-A Round Rock.
Lindstrom was removed from his role as closer on Tuesday following a tough stretch of games, in which he was 0-3 with two blown saves and had allowed nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in four appearances. His back had been affecting his mechanics, and the Astros finally decided to put him on the disabled list.
"His back just hasn't been getting any better," manager Brad Mills said. "We talked to him before the game and it wasn't letting him finish any of his pitches and letting him be the pitcher he is. We need to get him right."
Lindstrom, who has saved 22 games in 28 opportunities, was clearly frustrated, but didn't disagree with the decision.
"It's not getting any better and I don't want to cost my team anymore games," he said. "So the good news is my arm feels great and that's why it's so frustrating for me now, because I can't get on the same page as my back. We're just going to try to treat it for 15 days and get it some rest and hopefully come out firing when this DL stint is done and I can be me again and help the team win."
Abad, 24, was with Houston earlier this year and appeared in one game, throwing one inning in his Major League debut. He was 4-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 games at Round Rock.
Keppinger's toe injury not serious
HOUSTON -- Second baseman Jeff Keppinger was unavailable for a second consecutive game on Wednesday, but he was relieved to find out the injury to his left big toe isn't serious.
Keppinger, who was injured in the eighth inning of Monday's game, had an X-ray and an MRI on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning paid a visit to Dr. Kevin Varner, a foot specialist. Varner delivered some good news to Keppinger.
"Underneath the ball of your foot, there's two little small bones like circles and one of them is split in half with cartilage in between them," he said. "He said he's seen it plenty of times before, but there's no fresh break. If there was a fresh break, I would have been in pain in a couple of different maneuvers he was doing. He said maybe I just tweaked something."
Keppinger is putting extra padding in his shoe, but wasn't able to take batting practice on the field prior to Wednesday's game.
"He seems to be much better [Wednesday]," manager Brad Mills said.
Keppinger has been the Astros' most consistent hitter this year, batting .285 with five homers and 46 RBIs. He began the season as a utility player, but soon wrestled the starting second base job away from Kazuo Matsui, who was eventually released.
Astros staying informed with their iPad
HOUSTON -- Nearly every day in another corner of the Astros clubhouse, a player is seemingly unwrapping a new iPad, the tablet computer designed as a platform for Internet access and audio and visual media. Bud Norris earlier this week joined the growing list of players trying to be on the cutting edge of technology.
"I waited for a while and I didn't want to get it right out of the gate," Norris said. "Let [the other players mess] around with it and I'll learn from them. Then I realized, why not? As much as we travel and as much down time as we have in the clubhouse, I decided to get one and I'm enjoying it."
The iPad could hardly be found in the clubhouse before the arrival of pitcher Nelson Figueroa in late July and first baseman Brett Wallace a couple of weeks later. Suddenly, Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon and Jason Castro are among the players to get iPads, which are being used mostly for gaming.
"I think guys were hesitant to get them because they didn't know much about them," Figueroa said. "They would ask me, and I thought it was a great thing for the way we travel and our lifestyle, and they can get a lot out of it. Boys and their toys. They feel a lot more comfortable knowing if something happens to it and I know a lot about computers, so they have their own little geek squad."
Castro said his iPad has replaced his laptop computer.
"I don't even have to bring my laptop on the road anymore," he said. "It's got everything I need."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.