7/19/2013 8:43 P.M. ET
Astros happy to return home after long layoff
By Chris Abshire / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Astros haven't forgotten what it was like to play at home, but one would forgive them given it's been half a month without baseball in Minute Maid Park.
Friday's contest against Seattle is Houston's first home game since a Fourth of July extra-inning loss to Tampa Bay.
Between the All-Star break, two off-days and an eight-game road stretch, it was approximately one week of game action spread over two weeks.
While players weren't exactly shunning home's advantages, they were quick to dismiss the lengthy time away from Minute Maid as a negative.
"As baseball players, you get used to just playing, no matter what," said reliever Wesley Wright. "It's good to be at home and be able to go home at night. But for the actual game itself, it only matters for whether you take the field first or not."
Outfielder Brandon Barnes had a different take, saying he loves being back at home despite having to traverse Tal's Hill in centerfield.
For Barnes, it's a matter of temperature control, as the retractable roof and air conditioning provides ideal playing conditions at all times, even during Houston's humid summer.
"It's always 72 degrees in here," Barnes said. "We take it for granted sometimes, but being in places like St. Louis or Dallas, you feel that heat out there. It's nice to be back home for that alone."
Manager Bo Porter said the All-Star break was nice because it allowed for time with family, but as for baseball purposes, the venue or days off don't particularly matter.
"You know me, and I don't get into scheduling," Porter said, chuckling. "Every day's a Monday. We go to the ballpark and play and that never changes, even if you're tucking yourself in in your own bed."
Astros recall Ambriz to help bolster bullpen
HOUSTON -- Astros reliever Hector Ambriz didn't have time to get used to the Minor League grind.
Two weeks after being optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City, the righty is back with the Astros, again swapping roster spots with left-hander Brett Oberholtzer.
"It's not a yo-yo [situation] yet," Ambriz said. "It's hopefully just one time. It was so short, so like I never left almost."
Ambriz allowed just one earned run in five innings over four relief appearances with the Redhawks. He only allowed three baserunners in that span.
That was a welcome sign for the Astros after Ambriz's well-documented struggles as summer hit. In his final 6 2/3 innings before the demotion, Ambriz surrendered seven runs and 15 hits, including a three-run, four-hit shellacking against the Rays on July 1 that was the final straw.
Manager Bo Porter and Ambriz both attributed the issues to lack of fastball command, which was the righty's main focus with Oklahoma City.
"I think when he ran into bumps, it had to do with fastball command," Porter said. "The breaking pitches still looked fine. But when you fall behind on that flat pitch, you get into a lot of trouble in this league. He went down there and put the work in to hopefully be a high-leverage guy we need at the back end."
Oberholtzer is again a Redhawk after posting a 7.36 ERA and allowing two home runs in three appearances during his first Major League stint.
Astros to recall Cosart for Tuesday start
HOUSTON -- With the Astros farm system continuing to climb in many Minor-League rankings, it's only a matter of time before many top prospects begin flooding the Major League roster.
Starter Jarred Cosart was one of the first to poke his head through with eight shutout innings in his first career start against the Rays last week before being optioned back to Triple-A.
He didn't have to wait long to land a full-time spot with the club, as Astros manager Bo Porter tabbed Cosart as Houston's fifth starter exiting the All-Star break and said the righty will be called up Tuesday and start against Oakland that night.
Cosart carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in Tampa on July 10 and gave up only three walks and two hits, beating reigning Cy Young winner David Price in a 2-1 pitchers' duel.
"We just want him to continue to pitch," Porter said. "We all know the talent he has. It's a big arm. It's a guy who has tremendous stuff. I said this even after the last start. People wanted to compare Jarred Cosart to different people.
"I said, 'Let's allow Jarred Cosart to be Jarred Cosart.' Over time he'll be able to answer all of those questions. But there will be no undue pressure placed on him. He's going to be one of five guys that will get the ball once every five days."
The hard-tossing righty was 7-4 with Triple-A Oklahoma City with a 3.29 ERA and earning the nod as the Triple-A All-Star Game starter for the Pacific Coast League.
Cosart's promotion comes on the heels of Lucas Harrell's demotion to the bullpen and allows Houston to split its two lefties up in the rotation.
Tuesday's start will mark the home debut for Cosart, a Clear Creek High alumnus and League City, Texas native.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.