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07/20/12 10:00 PM ET
Altuve gets a well-earned breather
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Friday marked exactly one year since Astros second baseman Jose Altuve made his Major League debut and the All-Star celebrated the milestone with a much-needed day off. Altuve, the second-youngest player on the National League All-Star team behind Washington's Bryce Harper, is 3-for-28 and hitless in his last 14 at-bats since the All-Star break. "He didn't get a break. Everybody else did, and that's why I wanted to get him a day at some point on this road trip," Astros manager Brad Mills said. Altuve said he's not worried about his slow start. "I had a good first half, but the balls are not falling so far and it's a little bit of a slow start, but I'm fine," he said. "There's a lot of season left." Altuve has 99 hits, 31 multihit games and 16 stolen bases this season. He is 23-for-31 in stolen-base attempts in his career. "He was in A-ball last year to start the season. I think that classifies as a long way," Mills said. "From A-ball to Double-A to Triple-A in a year-and-half is moving quickly and a great distance. He's been great for us."
Cordero gives Astros late-inning versatility
PHOENIX -- The new-look Astros will have a familiar feel at the back of the bullpen.Astros manager Brad Mills said veteran Brett Myers will remain the team's closer, Wilton Lopez will continue to pitch in the eighth inning and newly acquired reliever Francisco Cordero will pitch in the seventh, but could see some action in the eighth. "We are in a situation where Lopez is coming off the DL and we don't know how many days in a row he will be able to go," Mills said. "Cordero could have parts of the seventh inning sometimes and parts of the eighth inning sometimes, depending on the availability of the other guys." Cordero, along with outfielder Ben Francisco and four Minor League players, were acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and Minor League pitcher David Carpenter on Friday. Dallas Keuchel will be called up from Triple-A to start in Happ's place on Saturday. "We had to give up some quality, but we got also some quality back," Mills said. "Anytime you can get such players and get them into the Minor League system, it really helps out. We are very happy to get such an influx." The plan for Francisco is to put him in right field against left-handed pitchers, Mills said. Both players were expected to available against the D-backs on Friday night. "It's sad to see some of those guys go, but at the same time, it's the movement organization is making and trying to go young," Astros left fielder J.D. Martinez said. "Right now, we are struggling a little bit, but we just have to keep a positive outlook. I don't know any of the guys coming, but I'm sure they are good ballplayers and we'll look toward a good future." Myers and Francisco were teammates in Philadelphia in 2009. He does not know Cordero. "I've been around for 10 years and stuff like this happens every day," Myers said. "That's the way it goes."