05/25/12 10:04 PM ET
Schafer out of series opener with toe injury
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com
The reason? His swollen right big toe barely fit into his other shoe, and when he had to put it on to take batting practice, it was a tight squeeze.
As a result, the Astros center fielder is out of the series opener against Los Angeles and possibly longer. He was optimistic he'd be ready to play on Saturday, but manager Brad Mills wasn't so sure.
Schafer sustained the injury when he fouled a ball off his toe earlier in the week. It broke part of his toenail and became infected and swollen, meaning Schaeffer needed a procedure to remove part of the nail.
"In the middle of the night it started killing me," Schafer said. "I didn't sleep one wink. It was throbbing the entire time and just killing me."
Schafer also missed two games earlier in the week with a lower leg strain.
Mills said he had planned to give the left-handed-hitting Schafer the night off anyway, with the team facing Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.
Then he saw the toe, eliminating any chance Schafer might enter the game late as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.
"It is gross," Mills said. "You can hardly look at it."
Schafer noted it looked much worse before he had the blood drained out of the toe.
Schafer, who is hitting .248 this season with 13 stolen bases, said it felt better on Friday and he targeted Saturday's game as his hope for a return.
Mills noted that Schafer getting through an entire batting practice session was a good sign. But he said he doesn't want to bring him back too early and risk aggravation.
"It just looks really sore," Mills said. "It's red and swollen and it just looks bad. We want him to get well."
The road may be final frontier for young team
LOS ANGELES -- The road hasn't been kind to a young Astros team this season, and manager Brad Mills thinks he knows why.
Before Houston began its three-game series in Los Angeles -- which has been the toughest place for opposing teams to win this season -- Mills was asked whether winning on the road was the last thing a young team with talent has to learn.
"Is the road the last place? I can understand that question because that's kind of the way it looks right now," Mills said.
The Astros have been one of baseball's surprises early this season as they sit at 21-23 and in third place in the National League Central.
But they haven't been able to produce away from Minute Maid Park, going just 5-13 on the road this season.
Mills was quick to point out that the Astros haven't been getting blown out in those games. Eight of the 13 losses have been by only one run.
He said the close losses may be tough on his young players. But they'll have to learn to win those games away from Houston if they want to contend.
"You want to get to a point where some guys are able to be rewarded for their good play," Mills said. "We can come close in games, but you want to be able to get that hit, make that pitch, make that play."
Astros to allow tailgating for June 2 game
LOS ANGELES -- For the first time ever, Astros fans will have the chance to fire up the grills and fill the coolers before a home game.
On Saturday, June 2, tailgating will be permitted in Lot C for fans with a pass that is specific for that lot. It allows fans to bring grills, tents, chairs, food and alcoholic beverages.
The decision to allow a tailgating event comes as a result of input and advice from longtime fans, the club said.
Gates to the lot will open at 3 p.m. CT for the 6:15 p.m first pitch for the game against the Reds.
To buy parking passes and tickets for Lot C, fans can visit www.astros.com/tailgate.
The Astros may allow similar events in the future, the club said, but none has been announced yet.
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.