08/31/12 12:19 AM ET
Astros send down Keuchel, add Dominguez
By Brian McTaggart and Clark Goble / MLB.com
Manager Tony DeFrancesco said the team needed another right-handed hitter on the bench with outfielders Justin Maxwell and Ben Francisco questionable to play with minor injuries. The Astros only had left-handed bats off the bench Wednesday.
"We feel like we have a little more breathing room," general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
DeFrancesco wants to give Dominguez, 23, a chance to show his abilities over the final month of the season.
"We really like his defense," DeFrancesco said. "He's a young kid who's hopefully going to be able to play at this level and make the adjustments."
Dominguez, acquired in the deal that sent Carlos Lee to the Marlins, played in four games with the Astros in early July. At Oklahoma City, Dominguez batted .298 with two homers and 23 RBIs in 45 games. He was batting .368 in his last 10 games.
"He does show some power, but we're waiting for him to have some more consistency," DeFrancesco said. "A third baseman in this league is a guy that's going to have to drive the ball and hit for power and drive in runs. He had a great week down there, so we thought it was the time for him to get up here and see what he can do."
Dominguez said he wasn't expecting to get called up before September but he was excited to be back in Houston.
The Astros will need a starter for Monday's game in Pittsburgh with Keuchel set to pitch that day with Oklahoma City. Luhnow said right-hander Edgar Gonzalez, who gave up four hits over seven innings for Oklahoma City on Wednesday, is a leading candidate to start Monday. The Astros will probably look outside their own pitching staff.
"We've talked about possibly going to a six-man rotation and Edgar is a candidate for that," Luhnow said. "We might get a chance to get him up here and see him on Monday. We still have a few days to figure that out."
Gonzalez signed with the Astros on Aug. 23. He started the season with Triple-A Colorado Springs, a Rockies affiliate, before making six starts with Monterrey in the Mexican League. On the season, he is 6-5 with a 3.84 ERA.
Gonzalez sprains ankle on first-base bag
HOUSTON -- Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez is day to day after spraining his left ankle in the ninth inning of Thursday's 8-4 loss to the Giants.
Gonzalez, who was pinch-hitting, tried to beat out a throw from Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval and landed awkwardly on the first-base bag. He shot up off the bag into the air with his leg locked and fell to the ground, grimacing.
He was able to walk off the field under his own power. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said the injury wasn't as bad as it looked originally. Gonzalez will have an X-ray on the ankle Friday.
Gonzalez is batting .234 in 201 at-bats for the Astros this season.
Francisco remains out with strained wrist
HOUSTON -- The Astros decided to keep outfielder Ben Francisco out of Thursday's lineup as he continues to deal with a right wrist strain.
Manager Tony DeFrancesco waited to post the lineup until the team could see how Francisco looked in batting practice. Soon after batting practice, the team decided to keep Francisco on the bench.
Francisco said the injury wasn't serious. His right wrist has never given him problems before. He said he felt it wear down over the past couple of days with "a lot of swings."
"Just wear and tear," Francisco said.
The team scratched Francisco from Wednesday's lineup an hour before the first pitch. Francisco entered Thursday's game batting .247/.289/.365 with the Astros in 85 at-bats.
Batting-glove changes allow Maxwell to hit
HOUSTON -- A few days after undergoing a pain-killing injection and now after adding some protection to his batting glove, Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell was available to hit Thursday for the first time since being scratched from the lineup Aug. 22 with a bruised right index finger.
Maxwell, who hasn't hit in a game since going 1-for-4 on Aug. 21, has been limited to pinch-running and defensive duties. He wasn't in the lineup Thursday, but he was eager to bat. He entered Thursday hitting .236 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs.
"We had to modify the batting glove and put some padding on it so I'll finish out the rest of the season and allow it to fully heal in the offseason so I can help the team win some games here in September, if not today," he said.
Maxwell was on the disabled list in late June and early July for loose bodies I his left ankle and briefly considered having surgery. He said none of the injuries he's experienced this year are going to require him to have surgery at the end of the year.
"My foot, I never had that problem before and the rest I had took care of it and it hasn't been an issue at all," he said. "It nagged me for the whole month of June, and the hand is the first time for this injury, too. It's been weird injuries. With a full offseason of rest and rehab and whatnot, I'll be fine."
Astros to monitor Clemens' next start
HOUSTON -- The Astros will once again have a scout on hand to watch Roger Clemens when he makes another start for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The Skeeters announced Thursday that Clemens would make a second start for them Sept. 7.
"We're going to make sure we're prepared," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "If we need to have the information from a baseball perspective to see what he looks like, we're going to have a scout there. It's an easy game for us to cover."
The 50-year-old Clemens made his first professional start in five years last week, pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the Bridgeport Bluefish in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston. He allowed only one hit -- a single -- and threw 37 pitches, 24 for strikes.
"My first start with the Skeeters was a great deal of fun," Clemens said in a statement. "There was lots of excitement in the air. I am looking forward to doing it again on Friday, Sept. 7. Stay tuned, I might have a few more surprises to come with the Skeeters."
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched for the Astros from 2004-06, will travel with the team to York, Pa., before returning home to make his start. Astros owner Jim Crane has said previously the team would have some interest in him possibly returning to pitch for the club this year.
Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer, who's been on the disabled list since Aug. 7 with a left shoulder separation, will play two more games during his rehab at Triple-A Oklahoma City before joining the club Monday in Pittsburgh.
Relief pitcher Wilton Lopez, who was sick enough Wednesday to be absent from the ballpark -- and subsequently miss the team photo on the field -- was back at Minute Maid Park on Thursday and was available to pitch.
Former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds will be inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame at 3 p.m. CT on Friday along Texas Avenue, outside Minute Maid Park. Reynolds pitched for the Astros between 1992-2002 and compiled a 103-86 (.545) record in 274 appearances (248 starts) with a 3.95 ERA and 20 complete games.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.