8/20/2013 12:46 A.M. ET
Castro gets break with start as Astros' DH
By Master Tesfatsion / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter is sticking to his plan to keep All-Star catcher Jason Castro fresh over the course of the season. Castro was the designated hitter with Carlos Corporan starting behind the plate on Monday night against the Rangers.
Porter also gave Brandon Barnes the night off and started Robbie Grossman in center field.
The Astros skipper said he set a goal to have the Castro close to full strength as the club approached the end of the season. The All-Star, who saw a career-high 12-game hitting streak end on Friday, entered Monday batting .267 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs.
"Once you get to 100, 110 games, I think it's a good thing that we've been cognizant through the course of the year to make sure he keeps his legs underneath him, he stays strong and it has a huge bearing on the success he's been able to enjoy this season," Porter said.
Castro was forced to move back behind the plate in the eighth inning when Jake Elmore, who replaced an injured Corporan in the third inning, took the mound.
Porter rested Barnes, who Porter said looked fatigued lately. The right-handed-hitter will start the next two games against Rangers lefty starters Travis Blackley and Derek Holland before the club's off-day Thursday.
Astros recall LeBlanc, option Krauss to OKC
ARLINGTON -- The Astros on Monday called up left-hander Wade LeBlanc and optioned outfielder Marc Krauss to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Manager Bo Porter said the club needed another arm in the bullpen with right-hander Lucas Harrell starting and preferred a southpaw. Kevin Chapman was the Astros' lone left-handed option before LeBlanc's arrival.
"Looking at the condition of our bullpen the last two series and having to put Lucas in the rotation, it made sense to bring LeBlanc here," Porter said. "He's extended, he's started, he's pitched out of the bullpen, so he gives us multiple options for a guy who can go long or go short."
LeBlanc said he doesn't have any expectations in his second stint with the Astros this season. He was claimed off waivers in June from the Marlins and had a 9.82 ERA in three games with Houston.
"I'm ready to do whatever they need me to do to help this team," LeBlanc said. "Other than that, I'm just going to take it all in and enjoy it."
LeBlanc said he focused on executing his pitches against left-handed hitters while in the Minor Leagues. He went 3-1 with a 4.33 ERA in 14 games (seven starts) with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but had a 3.95 ERA and a .235 batting average against vs. left-handed hitters.
"All I'm looking for is for it to transfer up here," LeBlanc said.
Porter plans to stick with a six-man rotation with the recent shakeup.
"One of the benefits of having a six-man rotation is if we run into the situation like we ran into yesterday, we'll have that guy available who is on complete rest who can bridge the gap and give our bullpen a day off," the skipper said.
Corporan exits after taking foul ball off mask
ARLINGTON -- Astros catcher Carlos Corporan left Monday night's game against the Rangers with a possible concussion after getting hit with a foul tip.
Corporan was hit in the head in the third inning on the third pitch of Alex Rios' second at-bat. Corporan finished the inning, but he was replaced behind the plate by infielder Jake Elmore in the bottom of the fourth. It was Elmore's first Major League appearance at catcher. He played one inning as a catcher in the Minor Leagues in 2010.
"[Corporan] was feeling nauseated and feeling a little dizzy," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "When they started talking to him in the dugout, he was slow to respond."
Corporan said after the game the club will test him for a concussion on Tuesday. The Astros lost their designated hitter in the eighth when Elmore made his first Major League appearance as a pitcher and DH Jason Castro moved behind the plate.
It was Corporan's 39th start as a catcher this season, and he went 0-for-1 at the plate.
Altuve, Villar start despite nursing injuries
ARLINGTON -- Jonathan Villar and Jose Altuve were both in the Astros' starting lineup on Monday night, as they're both dealing with nagging injuries. Villar has a sprained left thumb, which affects the switch hitter's swing when batting from the left side. With right-hander Matt Garza on the mound for the Rangers, Villar said he feels fine.
Villar said it might take at least a week for the thumb to be fully healed. He was pushing his thumb against a Play-Doh like substance in the clubhouse to strengthen it. Astros manager Bo Porter hasn't decided on whether Villar will start for the rest of the series with Texas, which will start left-handed pitchers Travis Blackley and Derek Holland on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Altuve was back at second base, as he started as the designated hitter on Sunday to help deal with soreness in his left quadriceps. He went 0-for-4 with an RBI in the 7-5 win over the Angels.
"I've been dealing with this a couple days, but now I feel really good," Altuve said. "Now, I'm just ready to go outside and play a game."
Hoes gets his first look at Rangers Ballpark
ARLINGTON -- Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes entered Monday night's game against the Rangers riding a career-high five-game hitting streak, as he started in right field for his first game at Rangers Ballpark.
"I'm anxious to see really how hot it gets out there," Hoes said. "I heard it's a great ballpark and a great place to play. I'm just anxious for the game. It's a big series coming up, hopefully we can get some wins and get back to Houston."
Hoes showed some rare power on Sunday with his first career home run in the first inning against Angels lefty Jason Vargas.
"Sometimes, you get lucky and run into a ball and hit a home run every now and then," Hoes said. "I got a good place to hit it, put a good swing on the ball. Anaheim is a good place to hit and the ball travels there."
Hoes was 3-for-4 on Sunday, his fourth multi-hit game in the last five contests. He entered Monday hitting .333 (20-60) in 16 games with Houston. Hoes credits hitting coach John Mallee for his recent success.
"Every once in a while, you get in a groove and feel good at the plate where it feels like they're throwing beach balls at the plate," Hoes said. "Right now, I feel comfortable. Me and Mallee have done a real good job of coming up with a plan for me, working on my swing and simplifying things to make it easier to hit."
• The Astros will not face Texas ace Yu Darvish during this series, prompting this response from Astros manager Bo Porter: "Isn't that good news?" Porter plans to mention the good news throughout the series.
• Left-hander Travis Blackley will start for the Rangers on Tuesday night. He was acquired from the Astros in a trade on Aug. 14.
• The Astros took two of three from the A's and Angels on this nine-game road trip. The last time Houston won consecutive road series was May 29-June 3 against the Rockies and Angels.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.