8/15/2014 8:35 P.M. ET
Crane praises baseball's next Commissioner
Astros owner familiar with Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane, whose shipping company has an office and clients in Boston, is at Fenway Park for the series against the Red Sox. Crane arrived in Boston on Thursday afternoon from Baltimore, where he and other Major League owners voted Rob Manfred as the next Commissioner at the quarterly Owners Meetings.
Crane is certainly no stranger to Manfred, having talked to him quite a bit in the last few months about the team's television stalemate with Comcast and its inability to sign No. 1 overall Draft pick Brady Aiken last month.
"He's very impressive, very knowledgeable," Crane said of Manfred. "One of the key things he's very good at is he worked on the labor agreement. He's got a lot of history working on that. I was on the other side when we were buying the team and they wanted us to move to the American League, so I've seen him on both fronts.
"He's a fair guy, a smart guy, and he's really good."
Among the things Crane said Manfred would like to address is speeding up the games and attracting younger fans.
"I think the new Commissioner has a very good platform with all of the relationships with the owners," Crane said. "The owners are pretty much on the same page. It was a very cohesive group."
Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer, will formally take over Jan. 25 to replace Bud Selig, who has presided over the game for 22 years.
Downs dealing with right oblique soreness
BOSTON -- Astros left-handed reliever Darin Downs could be down for a couple of days while he deals with some discomfort in his right oblique, which was enough of a concern for the club they called up left-hander Kevin Chapman from Triple-A.
Downs categorized his ailment as minor and doesn't know quite when or how it happened. He faced three batters Thursday and walked two, giving up a run.
"It came on a combination of probably a few pitches," he said. "Just kind of tightened up, a little cramp, and it got a little worse."
The Astros know all too well how long muscle strains on the side of the torso can linger. Outfielder Alex Presley has been out for more than a month with an oblique strain, outfielder Dexter Fowler missed 40 games with an intercostal strain and pitcher Anthony Bass missed 47 games with an intercostal strain.
"From my understanding, it's really minor," manager Bo Porter said. "I didn't want to take any chances looking at the history we've had with those things so far this year, with Bass, Fowler and Presley. You look up and they miss considerable time. Instead of playing short in the bullpen, it was to our advantage to get somebody here."
Downs had a more several oblique injury in 2006 that made it difficult for him to breathe or roll over in bed. This is nowhere nearly as bad.
"This is kind of a little cramp," he said. "We'll see how it goes the next couple of days."
Presley resumes rehab stint, could rejoin club soon
BOSTON -- Astros outfielder Alex Presley, who's on a Minor League rehab with rookie-level Tri-City, was back on the field Friday night and was scheduled to play five innings in the field after missing a couple of games because he suffered a slight setback with his oblique.
It's possible Presley could rejoin the Astros in the next few days. He's been out since July 8.
"If he does well tonight, my guess is he'll need one more day and we'll evaluate him," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "It's day to day with any of these rehabbers to see how they feel after the game and, most importantly, the next day."
Infielder Jesus Guzman is rehabbing at Triple-A Oklahoma City and went 0-for-1 with two walks and two runs scored Thursday while serving as the designated hitter. He's been on the disabled list since Aug. 2 with back spasms.
"When it comes to your injured Major League guys, to me, they're not being sent down there to prove they can play," manager Bo Porter said. "They need to prove they're healthy and ready to go."
Chapman happy to join club for Boston-NY trip
BOSTON -- The one trip reliever Kevin Chapman was looking forward to more than any other on the schedule this year was the one to Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. Chapman has spent most of the season at Triple-A, so it appeared he was going to miss out.
But the lefty got the call late Thursday night that he was heading to Boston to join the Astros, which meant nearly a full day of traveling from Fresno, Calif., before getting to Fenway Park at 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
"I got a couple of hours of sleep," Chapman said.
The Astros called him up to bolster a bullpen that could be without lefty Darin Downs for a couple of days while he deals with soreness in his oblique. Chapman has been of the top relievers in the Pacific Coast League this year, going 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 43 appearances. He's struck out 64 in 44 innings.
"One of the adjustments we talked to him about was being able to have fastball command," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's got plus velocity and plus stuff, but … if you don't throw strikes in this league, you're going to be in trouble. That's the adjustments he's going to need to make. He's been throwing the ball really well down there, but we need to get Major League hitters out."
Chapman says he has more confidence than he had when he was the club in two stints earlier this year, when he posted a 11.12 ERA in seven games.
"I just think it's consistency and getting ahead of hitters and throwing strikes," he said. "That's the biggest thing, just doing that. If I can do that, I've been pretty successful."
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Chapman is ready for the opportunity.
"He's got the stuff to get guys out and we know that," he said. "He's got much more confidence when he's pitching at Triple-A and uses all of his weapons and throws strikes and gets ahead of hitters. In the past, he gets nervous and nibbles a little bit and falls behind in the count, and the strike zone here is really tight and he's facing really good hitters and the next thing you know, he's walked a guy or the guy has gotten hits."