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08/02/11 1:30 AM ET

Barmes a valuable clubhouse presence

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said Clint Barmes drew interest from teams before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but Wade didn't want to part ways with the veteran shortstop.

"You want somebody like Clint Barmes around talking to your kids and helping them through some rough spots and encouraging them, and doing everything Clint Barmes has done since the very first day we got him, and clearly what we were hearing about him before he ever got here," Wade said.

Barmes' bat has picked up in recent weeks, notching a hit in 11 of his last 13 games, including four multihit games and three home runs. Wade also applauded the shortstop's defensive abilities.

"[If] you want the ball hit to a guy, and make sure an out's an out, hit it to Clint Barmes," Wade said. "Chances are the inning's over. The way he's come on offensively over the last several weeks is a big plus."

Wade said he doesn't know what Barmes' future with the Astros will be, but for now, he's a valuable piece in a young clubhouse.

"One of the primary reasons why Clint Barmes is still wearing our uniform today is because of the character and makeup he brings to a ballclub, and I told him that this afternoon," Wade said.

Schafer eager for new opportunity with Astros

HOUSTON -- Newly-acquired outfielder Jordan Schafer said he is about 10 days away from returning to action after fracturing his left middle finger. General manager Ed Wade said Schafer will join the Astros when he returns.

"I just came back from the doctor," Schafer said. "He took some X-rays and stuff, and he said as soon as I can get my finger back around the bat that I should be able to swing."

Schafer said it was strange entering a clubhouse for the first time on Monday not knowing anyone, but he is eager to get on the field and get regular playing time in the Majors.

He hit .240 with 15 steals in 52 Major League games with the Braves after being called up from Triple-A in May.

"It's kind of been a blur the last 24 hours," Schafer said. "I'm sad to leave, but I'm excited for the opportunity here to progress and try to improve and try to win here."

Schafer excelled this season at Minute Maid Park while with Atlanta. The center fielder hit .353 with a home run, three RBIs and four stolen bases in four games at the venue this season.

"There's a lot of room in the outfield for me to go run and get the ball," Schafer said. "I think that definitely suits me well."

'Athletic' youngsters get an opportunity

HOUSTON -- Luis Durango, Jimmy Paredes and J.D. Martinez were all in Monday night's Astros lineup, with Durango leading off, in a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Reds.

It was Paredes' first Major League game, Durango's first as an Astro and Martinez's first at home. Durango, who replaced Michael Bourn on the 25-man roster, was claimed off waivers from San Diego on June 29, and played in a combined 37 games for the Padres since 2009.

Paredes, who went 1-for-4, became the first player in franchise history to triple in his first Major League plate appearance, ripping a two-run three-bagger in the second inning. Martinez also hit an RBI extra-base hit in his first Major League plate appearance, roping an RBI double against Milwaukee on Saturday.

"We went away for 10 days and came back with quite a few different guys," said manager Brad Mills. "But we sure got a lot more athletic. We've got some individuals that can really do some things. I think it's going to be exciting for the fans to watch."

Paredes said his nerves vanished once he notched the extra-base hit, and he couldn't believe it was happening as he rounded the bases.

"I said, 'Wow, I'm running in the Major Leagues on a Houston field,'" Paredes said. "I was so excited for that."

Paredes, Martinez and second baseman Jose Altuve have all been called up from Double-A Corpus Christi within the last two weeks.

"The proving ground becomes Double-A, because I think it's a more level playing field," said Astros general manager Ed Wade. "Obviously, we've got some guys at Triple-A that we like, and we'll continue to have guys at Triple-A that we like and bring up here, but I really think the true separator or the level in which the separation begins to occur is at Double-A."

Wade said some of the young callups may not stay in the Major Leagues for the remainder of the season, but Martinez said he's excited to have an opportunity at the highest level.

"It's definitely the right organization to be in right now for young guys," Martinez said. "It's definitely exciting to come in, and you're not the only one. You see familiar faces, so you kind of feel like you're all in it together."

Wallace, Johnson trying to work out struggles

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills said he's unsure how long Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson will remain at Triple-A Oklahoma City after the pair was optioned on Sunday night.

Wallace hit .388 in April, but has hit just .160 since June 18 and is currently in an 0-for-18 skid at the dish. Johnson was hitting .245 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 92 games.

"We have a month to go in the Minor League season," Mills said. "Let these guys go down, get some work in, in a situation to where hopefully they can get in a groove to get back and start playing like they are capable of, and then we'll see what happens from there."

Mills said he doesn't doubt the talent of Wallace and Johnson, and hopes their time at Oklahoma City will allow them to play to their potential once again.

"We're in a situation where we hope those two guys are the cornerstones of our infield for a long time," Mills said.

Worth noting

• Manager Brad Mills said Carlos Lee would receive the majority of starts at first base for the near future, with Matt Downs and Brian Bogusevic also figuring into the mix.

"They'll get some time, but Carlos is definitely going to get the bulk of the time there," Mills said.

• General manager Ed Wade said Henry Sosa could make his next start at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Sosa, who was acquired in the Jeff Keppinger trade, was 2-0 and didn't allow an earned run in his first two starts at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.