5/13/2014 10:39 P.M. ET
Extra work paying dividends for Dominguez
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez has been swinging a hot bat, entering Tuesday riding a seven-game hitting streak, including two hits in each of his previous four games (8-for-17). He batted in the No. 4 spot in the batting order for the fourth consecutive game Tuesday.
The hitting streak had enabled Dominguez to raise his batting average to .259 entering Tuesday from .227.
"My numbers weren't good, but I feel like I swung it good early on and now I'm starting to find some holes," he said. "I've been working on a few things mechanically with [hitting coach John] Mallee. I've stuck with that approach, and it's starting to work out."
Astros manager Bo Porter said he knew when Dominguez started to hit the ball the other way with authority that he was coming around.
"That lets me know he's staying on the ball and he's hitting the ball hard to all fields," he said. "You look at his strike-zone discipline and it is much improved from last year and it buys him some more fastballs to hit. And he's a really good fastball hitter."
The trick for Dominguez now is keeping it up.
"That's what makes guys in the big leagues superstars, are the ones that can do it day in and day out, every single day," he said. "The mechanics are there, the approach is there. It's been going good lately."
Cisnero needs Tommy John surgery
HOUSTON -- The rash of injuries to pitchers who will require Tommy John surgery this season has reached the Astros, who announced Tuesday right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero will undergo the procedure next week.
Cisnero, who strained his ulnar collateral ligament last week in Detroit, was examined Tuesday by team physical Thomas Mehlhoff, who recommended the procedure. Mehlhoff will perform the surgery in Houston.
"You know it happens in the industry, and you see it happen to other players, you don't expected it to happen to you," general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
Cisnero is the latest pitcher to need the surgery, which typically requires a 12-month recovery. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is expected to need the procedure, and Mets ace Matt Harvey is recovering from his.
Cisnero was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 25 and appeared in five games with the Astros. He shares the same agent with former Astros pitcher Fernando Rodriguez, who underwent the surgery shortly after he was traded to the A's in February 2012.
Cisnero, 25, made his Major League debut last year and was 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 games out of the bullpen.
"He's been able to talk to him about the experience and he knows what to expect," Luhnow said of Cisnero's relationship with Fernandez. "He's young and he's got a good arm and I'm sure he'll come back."
Meanwhile, Luhnow said veteran right-handed reliever Matt Albers received a cortisone shot Tuesday in his right shoulder and won't throw a baseball for 10 days while he recovers from tendinitis. He's been on the disabled list since April 22.
The good news for the Astros is an MRI showed some inflammation but no structural damage to Albers' shoulder.
"It's going to be longer than we originally expected, but it's not anything that will hinder him long term," Luhnow said.
With Jesse Crain (biceps tendinitis surgery) having not pitched this year and Albers limited to eight games, two of the three veteran relievers the Astros acquired to improve their bullpen are now on the shelf. Right-hander Chad Qualls remains healthy.
"It's a setback," Luhnow said. "I talked to Crain and he's feeling better every day. We're still unclear as to his return. That's why you try and build up as much depth as you can. Clearly, two-thirds of our master plan to fix the bullpen is not available, and that hurts. We'll overcome it. Fortunately, both of them are expected to return and hopefully they'll come back and contribute. In the meantime, the other guys will step up and it provides opportunity."
Astros hope shift to two-hole helps Springer
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter hopes moving rookie outfielder George Springer up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order will help him get going offensively. Springer entered Tuesday with a .227 average while striking 39 times in 97 at-bats.
With catcher Jason Castro out of a lineup that was facing a lefty, Porter shifted Springer back to the second position -- behind Jose Altuve and ahead of Dexter Fowler.
Springer picked up an RBI in the fourth inning with a single on the heels of Altuve's triple.
Porter wouldn't commit to keeping Springer in the two-hole long term, but he was hoping he would see more fastballs in that spot.
"He's been getting steady diet of breaking stuff," Porter said. "Part of the reason he hit second early in the year was to try to put some speed in front of him and behind him. Having Altuve, who's arguably our best basestealer, in front of him, hopefully we can buy him a few more fastballs."
Springer hit second in his first two games in the Major Leagues April 16-17 before being moved to fourth and later sixth.
"That was early in his Major League debut where obviously we have a little bit more body of work and we all understand how they're trying to pitch him," Porter said. "He understands how they're to pitch him, and the guys that are in hitting around him understand how they're trying to pitch him."
• Lancaster second baseman Tony Kemp was named the California Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .538 with three doubles, four RBIs and nine runs scored. He leads the league in batting average (.372) and on-base percentage (.463) and leads all of Minor League Baseball with 44 runs scored.
• Right-hander Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, threw in the bullpen Tuesday in Kissimmee, Fla., and was feeling good, general manager Jeff Luhnow said. The Astros sent Appel to extended Spring Training after he scuffled to start the year at Lancaster.
"I think we're accomplishing what we wanted to accomplish by sending him down," Luhnow said.