05/10/2013 8:42 PM ET
Astros pitchers begin batting, running drills
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- With the Astros heading to PNC Park next week for an Interleague series against former National League Central rival Pittsburgh, pitchers have been taking batting practice on the field and running the bases in anticipation.
Astros pitchers no longer hit now that they're in the American League, except when they visit NL parks. Houston will play at Colorado at the end of May, at Chicago to face the Cubs in June and in St. Louis in July.
"The fact we're an American League ball club and now we're getting to the portion of the schedule where we will start playing Interleague games, and one thing I didn't want to do was get those guys ramped up too soon," manager Bo Porter said. "The last homestand, they did all their bunting and hitting in the cage and did some extra core exercising and rotational stuff. This homestand, we're getting them out on the field."
Pitchers ran the bases on Friday and worked on hitting and bunting Thursday. Jordan Lyles, who's scheduled to pitch in the series against the Pirates, misses facing other pitchers more than anything.
"I definitely miss it," he said. "As a starting pitcher, you don't miss getting on the bases and using your energy out there. The good thing about the American League is you come in and rest and get focused and get a game plan for the next inning. I definitely miss throwing to the other pitchers and working around the eighth hitter in the lineup."
Lyles, who hit his only career homer in his final start of the 2012 season while in Milwaukee, was asked if he would be swinging for the fences next weekend.
"What do you think?" he joked.
Dominguez moves past off night at hot corner
HOUSTON -- Chalk it up as just one of those nights.
Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez, who is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, committed a career-high three errors in Thursday's loss to the Angels, and would have had a fourth had the official scorer not given Howie Kendrick a hit on a ball Dominguez threw away in the seventh.
The three errors tied the club record for the most by any player in a game.
"It's one of those games where it kind of got away from me, but today's a new day," said Dominguez, who also drove in three runs. "I'll try to move on from it and learn from it and just go on."
Dominguez entered Thursday leading all Major League third basemen with a .990 fielding percentage. Astros manager Bo Porter, who was with the Marlins when Dominguez was beginning his professional career in Florida, has no doubt Dominguez will rebound.
"I was joking with Matty," Porter said. "I told him when I pulled out of the parking garage last night to drive home that it was snowing outside. I told him the odds of me pulling out of the parking garage and it snowing are just as good as the odds of you making three errors in one game. It was part of the game and it can happen to the best of them. It's a prime example of no matter how good you are, you can make errors."
Castro, wife begin initiative for literacy
HOUSTON -- Astros catcher Jason Castro and his wife, Maris, will kick off their multifaceted initiative, Castro's Kids, at 12:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Barnes and Noble bookstore, 3003 W. Holcombe in Houston, during the annual "Name That Book Red Carpet Event."
The Castros, in conjunction with the Houston Independent School District, are providing books and incentives to encourage students to embrace literacy. Both attended Stanford University.
"Maris and I couldn't be more dedicated and excited to launch Castro's Kids," Jason said. "We attribute not only meeting each other, but many of the opportunities we have been given throughout our lives, to education. By promoting literacy in the Houston school districts, we hope to make an impact in the area that we are proud to call our home."
Nearly 20 years ago, the "Name That Book" contest was created to increase students' interest in reading and introduce them to award-winning books from a variety of genres. The district-wide competition is set to begin on Saturday, when Jason and Maris will be making a special appearance. In addition, the couple will be donating funds to the contest on behalf of Castro's Kids, which will be matched by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
To encourage summer reading, Castro's Kids has partnered with Better World Books, and will be giving 5,600 books to three schools in the district to support their summer reading platform. Twenty-five students from the school with the highest increase in summer reading participation will win an all-expenses paid trip to an Astros game and other Astros memorabilia.
The Astros will hold a book drive at Minute Maid Park on June 29-30, when the team faces the Angels. The books collected from that weekend will be distributed throughout the HISD during the upcoming school year.
• Astros assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones was honored on the field prior to Friday's game against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park on the 35th anniversary with the organization. Jones, who began his career with the Class A Daytona Beach club, has been with the Major League club since 1994.
• Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow attended his 25th college reunion Friday at the University of Pennsylvania.