7/22/2014 10:43 P.M. ET
Qualls celebrates 10-year anniversary of debut
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Tuesday marked the 10-year anniversary of the Major League debut of Astros reliever Chad Qualls, who pitched in his first game with Astros on July 22, 2004 -- about a month before the team caught fire and went 36-10 down stretch to win the National League Wild Card on the final day of the season.
Qualls made his debut in Arizona, pitching one inning in relief of Roy Oswalt in a 10-3 win over the D-backs. He allowed one run, one hit and walked Steve Finley on four pitches. Pitching coach Jim Hickey, who Qualls had as pitching coach in Triple-A New Orleans, had to come to the mound and settle him down.
"He came running out and told me, 'It's just like Triple-A. No big deal, just throw your strikes,'" Qualls said. "I was nervous as could be and obviously it was a special time in my life and I loved every minute of it. Here it is 10 years later. A lot of things have gone right, and I've been blessed to have been able to play this long. I don't anything for granted."
Qualls, who's having one of his best seasons in his return to Houston, has racked up 691 2/3 innings with nine teams in his 10-year career. He made his 700th career appearance on Saturday and his 300th with the Astros on Sunday, which ranks tied for sixth-most in franchise history.
When he was called up at 25 years old in 2004, he joined a team that was filled with stars, including Oswalt, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell, Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent. The team had just replaced Jimy Williams as manager with Phil Garner.
"I tried not to step on any toes and made sure that I opened doors for them and got out of their way, got anything they needed," Qualls said of playing with the vets. "It was nice my pitching coach was Hickey and that made the transition easy. I was minding my p's and q's and kind of stayed to myself, and fortunately the guys took to me pretty soon and I was able to open up and be myself a little bit. I always stayed respectful of those guys and kept chugging along and kept throwing sinkers and sliders, and here we are."
Springer sits for second game with leg soreness
OAKLAND -- Astros rookie outfielder George Springer was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game Tuesday with soreness in his right knee/quadriceps area.
Springer, who hit his 20th homer Saturday and didn't play in Sunday's series finale against the White Sox, did some baseball drills prior to Tuesday's series opener at O.co Coliseum to test the leg and still had enough discomfort that didn't allow him to play.
"I went out and did some stuff and just got some discomfort and we'll take it from there," Springer said.
When asked if it was his knee or quad that was bothering him more, Springer said it was "overall discomfort." He wasn't sure when he would be able return to action, but as of now the situation doesn't appear to warrant a stint on the disabled list.
"I don't have a clue," he said. "I just got to get through it and see what happens."
Astros manager Bo Porter waited until Springer finished working out with the trainers before filling out his lineup, which again had Enrique Hernandez in center field.
"We wanted to allow him to get treatment and the training staff brought him out and went through some drills," Porter said, "and we went through some running and feel if he's not able to go full speed without having discomfort, we don't want to take any chances of it getting worse or him blowing his quad or doing something where we're dealing with an injury that will take much longer to heal than where we're at right now."
Porter said the DL currently isn't an option.
"As time goes on, the information we get each and every day will allow us to make that decision as we move forward," he said. "When you look at the 15-day DL, you have to ask yourself, 'Is he not going to play within the next 15 days?' And we're not at that point right now."
Altuve tabbed for Heart and Hustle Award
OAKLAND -- All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve is the Astros' nominee for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's 2014 Heart and Hustle Award, which honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
"We are proud to present Jose with this award," MLBPAA director of communications Nikki Warner said. "He embodies all that the award represents and is a positive role model in the Houston community."
The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of alumni players with established relationships to each team. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.
These players will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game. As the season draws to a close, fans, all alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners. The previous overall winners include Craig Biggio of the Astros in 2006 and '07 and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox last year.
The final winner will be announced on Nov. 18 at the 15th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 15,000 children each year at 110 clinics, allowing them the opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.
• Astros infielder Jesus Guzman, who was scratched from the lineup Sunday with back discomfort, returned to the lineup Tuesday and started at first base. Guzman had only three at-bats since making his previous start June 30.
"My back is much better today, and from yesterday to today I feel way better than last week," he said.
• Astros right-hander Collin McHugh pitched five innings and allowed and three hits, one walk and one run and struck out five batters in rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. He's been on the disabled list since July 7 with a right middle fingernail avulsion, which is when the nail pulls away from the skin. If he came through healthy, he would be slotted back into the rotation, likely this weekend.