5/23/2014 10:21 P.M. ET
Villar tunes up infield defense with Listach
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Astros third-base coach Pat Listach, who handles the club's infield defense, put starting shortstop Jonathan Villar through a rigorous workout on the field Friday afternoon at Safeco Field, hitting him grounders over and over.
"We've been on the road for a few days now, and he doesn't get a whole lot of work in during batting practice with everything that goes on, balls flying around," Listach said. "So I said, 'Let's go out there and get some work in.'"
Listach hit some series of grounders to each side of Villar and then added some slow rollers. He also hit some balls where Villar didn't know they were going to go. Villar was pretty taxed afterward, bending over to catch his breath when it was over.
"It was just me and him and a first baseman, just to get some extra work in, high-intensity work, where he didn't have to worry about a line drive coming of the bat and balls and nets all over the place and things like that," Listach said. "It was a good workout and he was breathing hard when we left."
Springer out again with hip flexor strain
SEATTLE -- Astros right fielder George Springer was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game Friday with a strained right hip flexor. He told reporters he still felt a little bit of stiffness but reiterated that he can play.
"I'm itching to get back out there," Springer said. "Whenever I can get back out there, whenever I get the chance to get back out there, I'll go back out there."
Springer suffered the injury in the ninth inning Wednesday in Anaheim when he dived back into first base on a pickoff. He hobbled off the field and showed up sore at Safeco Field on Thursday, but said he was able to play. Alex Presley started in right field for the second game in a row.
"I think I can play every day," Springer said. "Not much has changed since I first got here. I want to play. I feel like I can play. At the same time, you've got to be smart and just take it as they go. I want to play and want to try to help us."
Springer went through a workout Friday, including some running with the athletic trainers, and took early batting practice without any problems.
"Certain things will affect it," he said. "It's just a little stiffness and I can play through it. You've got to be smart. You can't try to overdo things now just because I want to get back out there, so I trust [head athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero]. I trust them and have to listen to them and not try to go to do something when I'm not 100 percent, I guess."
Astros manager Bo Porter said there's no sense putting Springer back out on the field if there are any limitations, so he's waiting on the trainers to tell him Springer is cleared.
"I'm always one of those when they seem full throttle, you want to give him another day," Porter said. "He'll come out and go through a full day today and the trainers will look at him and put him through more strength tests, and we'll make a decision tomorrow."
Springer entered Friday hitting .240 with four homers and 15 RBIs. He's hitting .353 during a five-game hitting streak that included a homer Wednesday against Jered Weaver. His four homers in May are tied for fifth most all-time in club history by a rookie.
In his last 19 games, Springer ranks second among Major League rookies in hits (22), second in batting average (.282), RBIs (13) and OPS (.851) and tied for third in homers (four).
Peacock scratched with sore forearm; Owens called up
SEATTLE -- Astros right-hander Brad Peacock is expected to make his next start after being scratched from Friday's game with right forearm soreness. Left-hander Rudy Owens was called up to take Peacock's turn in the rotation.
To make room for Owens on the roster, the Astros optioned right-hander Josh Zeid to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Astros manager Bo Porter said the move to scratch Peacock is precautionary.
"You start to think about erring on the side of caution, even though the bulk of the soreness is behind him, but today being his start day it made sense to go ahead and skip him and give him the extra time before he takes the ball," Porter said.
Peacock, 26, began the season in the bullpen before making his last six turns in the rotation. In his last start, he picked up his first win of the season, tossing 6 2/3 innings and allowing two runs en route to an 8-2 win over the White Sox. He is considered day to day.
"Obviously, it's not a DL situation," Porter said. "We we didn't want to risk it or push it when we can push him back and bring somebody in to make this start, and hopefully he'll take his turn five days from now."
Zeid, 27, has made seven appearances for the Astros this season across two Major League stints. He's posted no record and a 3.86 ERA with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
"Josh Zeid got pretty much got caught in the numbers game," Porter said. "It's one of those things where obviously he has an option. Looking at Peacock's situation, it's not a DL situation but we want to keep him in the rotation. You don't want to risk him being out for 15 days."
Operations manager O'Neill steps in on radio
SEATTLE -- Pinch-hitting in the radio booth at Safeco Field on Friday night was Dan O'Neill, the Astros' manager of team operations. O'Neill sat alongside play-by-play man Robert Ford as the color analyst as a sub for Steve Sparks, who was in Houston for his son's high school graduation.
The Astros had tried to get Morgan Ensberg to Seattle for the game, but the schedule didn't work out. Sparks will return to the airwaves Saturday.
"I'm a little nervous," said O'Neill, who's responsible for team travel and oversees the clubhouse, video, Florida operations and advance information departments. "I'd be more nervous if Robert was nervous, but he seems pretty ready to go. He used to do Minor League games all by himself so he'll carry the show, obviously."
O'Neill doesn't have broadcasting experience, but he knows the team and the game. He played in the Phillies organization and has been at nearly every Astros Spring Training and regular-season game since the start of 2013.
He sat in with O'Neill and Sparks on Thursday to get an idea about when Sparks speaks, and he called Triple-A pitching coach Steve Webber to get the lowdown on Astros starting pitcher Rudy Owens, who made his Major League debut on Friday.
"Sparks really helped me and showed me what he goes through," O'Neill said. "He said to just keep it simple."