9/1/2013 2:29 P.M. ET
Clark making an impression in stint with Astros
By Gene Duffey / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros reserve catcher Cody Clark hasn't been able to show what he can do with a bat since being called up Aug. 23. He has played in only four games and is 0-for-10, twice being robbed of hits by outstanding defensive plays by opposing shortstops.
After Friday's game Clark went into manager Bo Porter's office. "Are all the defenders that good here?" asked Clark.
"They put their best defenders at shortstop," Porter told him. "You probably want to find someplace else to hit it."
Clark played third base at Wichita State and was moved behind the plate after being drafted in the 11th round by the Texas Rangers in 2003.
"My speed determined I was going to catch," he laughed. "[Catching] kind of picked me. I told the Rangers I can play third. They said, 'No, you're going to catch.' "
After 10 years in the Minors, he signed as a free agent with the Astros in February because "it was the only offer I had."
Clark, who will turn 32 Sept. 14, has thrown out four of five runners attempting to steal since arriving in Houston.
"I've always had a pretty good reputation for being a catch-and-throw guy," he said. "Just trying to be quick and accurate. I don't know if there's a secret. I'm pretty accurate right now. Dallas [Keuchel] has been really quick to the plate. If the pitchers don't hold guys on, you don't have any chance. The pitchers here have done an excellent job of holding guys on here."
The speed of the baserunners is definitely a change from the Minor Leagues. "Everybody's fast up here," Clark said. "Everybody can play defense.
"It's so much fun [playing in the Majors]. I just love it. The travel is so much easier. It took me five years to get to Double-A. It was a struggle. Once I got to Double-A I thought I had made it. A lot of times along the way I had questioned whether it was for me or not."
Did Clark show enough defensively to get a good look with the Astros next year at Spring Training?
"He's not only done a great job throwing, he's done a great job calling the game," Porter said. "You talk to the pitchers he's been catching and they rave about his ability to call a game. His ability to block [the ball]."
"We'll see," Clark said. "I know they have some really good catchers in this organization."
Humber finding his place as member of 'pen
HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander Philip Humber pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief Friday night for the Astros, allowing two hits and one run against Seattle. It was his most impressive outing since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City Aug. 13.
Humber began the season in the Houston rotation. He made seven starts and lost every one of them with a sky-high ERA.
"He had a great Spring Training," manager Bo Porter said. "He was one of our best five pitchers. It just didn't go too well in the rotation. He went down to Triple-A and was able to find himself, and find his mechanics. He's come back and pitched OK out of the bullpen."
Humber pitched as a starter and reliever at Oklahoma City.
"I knew I had to go work on stuff," he said of his stint in the Minors. "Obviously, after last year and the beginning of this year, I was going to have to make some adjustments. I was having trouble with left-handed hitters. I had to figure what I could do different. I wasn't getting much better results [in Triple-A] than here. That took a little patience."
Humber, 30, said he doesn't worry too much about his future, whether it's in the rotation or in the bullpen.
"I'm past looking at it like that," he said. "I try to make the best of every day. I feel the Lord has a plan for me, whether it's baseball or something else."
Porter said he still believes in Humber.
"As time goes by, whether he pitches out of the bullpen or in the rotation, he definitely has a career in the Major Leagues," Porter said. "It all depends on what role he's going to end up at."
Humber pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox April 21, 2012, but the rest of the season did not go well. He finished the year 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA and spent some time in the Minors.
"Up here, they get a book on you and they know early what you're trying to do," he said.
Including stints with the Mets, Twins and Royals, Humber has pitched as many games in relief as a starter in the Major Leagues. He said he actually enjoys pitching out of the bullpen.
"I feel good out there," he said. "Every day there's a chance you can be in there. It's definitely different. I have the type of arm that responds well to that. I typically don't need a lot of rest.
"The guys I've seen who have succeeded for a long time as relievers are just like starters. They have a routine. I do the same thing every day."
Crowe, De Leon called up from Triple-A
HOUSTON -- Outfielder Trevor Crowe didn't waste any time sitting on the bench after being recalled by the Astros.
Houston manager Bo Porter inserted Crowe in Sunday's starting lineup against Seattle, batting him seventh and playing him in center field.
In Sunday's 2-0 win against the Mariners, Crowe went 2-for-4 and made a great running catch to take away a possible extra-base hit from Kendrys Morales in the second inning.
"It's good to get Trevor back," Porter said. "He's played really well at [Triple-A] Oklahoma City. It gives us flexibility with a guy who can switch-hit, play all three outfield positions. He got a lot of at-bats at OKC. At that point of the season it was good for him to get the extended playing time."
Crowe hit just .200 in 34 games with Houston earlier this season, being placed on the disabled list June 20 with a sprained joint in his right shoulder. He was optioned out Aug. 11.
He got a running start on his return to the Majors, being informed after Friday night's game in Oklahoma City that he was being called up and arriving Saturday in Houston. "I was able to get a good night's rest," he said.
"Obviously, I was very happy," he said. "I didn't know it was going to happen because the Oklahoma City team is in the playoff race. They have a really good team and they're going to make a run in the playoffs. To get this opportunity Sept. 1 is big for me."
Crowe wasn't shocked to be a starter right away.
"I've been around this game long enough, it's tough to surprise me," he said. "But I'm very happy I'm in the lineup."
Crowe hit .304 in 60 games this year in Triple-A.
"Just the consistency of the at-bats [helped]," he said. "Being able to get in a rhythm. There's no substitute for being in the lineup every day.
"This is an offensive league. At the end of the day, you've got to swing the bat, which I can do. I'm not worried about that. But that's the bottom line."
The Astros also recalled right-handed reliever Jorge De Leon, who had an 0.60 ERA in 12 games with Oklahoma City, striking out 12 in 15 innings.
De Leon said he was in the shower in the clubhouse at Oklahoma City when he was told to report to the office. He had been with the Astros for a week in August.
"I'm excited," he said. "I've been working hard. I'm better now. My slider is better, my changeup, too, my fastball command. I feel ready, I feel strong."
"We're going to use him in the bullpen," Porter said. "He can go multiple innings. He'll pitch some back-end innings. He'll also pitch some early innings as well."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.