Feliz to see some playing time at first
Third baseman feels comfortable across diamond
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Pedro Feliz, who signed with the Astros to start at third base, will get some starts at first base against left-handers while Lance Berkman is on the disabled list.
Feliz, who has played 95 games at first base in his career, has been working out at first base this week and started at first in Thursday's Grapefruit League finale at Osceola County Stadium. He hasn't played first base since 2007, but said he's comfortable at the position.
"For me, it's all the same between the lines," Feliz said. "It's all about the fundamental stuff. I'm going to get ground balls, and I'm going to be ready."
Feliz played 12 games at first in 2003, 67 in '04, 12 in '05 and four in '07. The Astros plan to start Feliz at first against lefties, with Chris Johnson starting at third base. Geoff Blum will typically start at first against right-handers, with Feliz at third. The Astros could face as many as three left-handers in the first week of the season: Barry Zito, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer.
"He's played there quite a few times, of course, with San Francisco over the past few years," manager Brad Mills said of Feliz at first. "He was very receptive to going over there and worked out at first base for a few days last week when we were on the road. He worked out over there, did some drills with us two days ago at first base. We'll play him a few innings there today and go from there."
Rookie Manzella returns to lineup
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Starting shortstop Tommy Manzella returned to the lineup on Thursday for the first time since straining his right quadriceps muscle on March 20. He played in a Minor League game on Wednesday and went 3-for-5 with several ground balls hit his way.
"I watched him yesterday, and he looked fine and said he felt fine and feels 100 percent," manager Brad Mills said. "I'm glad we were able to give him the extra day to break out."
Non-roster outfielder Jason Bourgeois, who has been told by the team he will start the season in the Minor Leagues, also returned to the lineup Thursday. He had been out since straining his left hamstring on March 21.
Meanwhile, right-hander Felipe Paulino said his ailing lower back was improving, but not enough for the Astros to scratch him from his scheduled start in Saturday's exhibition game against the Blue Jays. Mills confirmed Paulino will be his fifth starter and will pitch April 10 as long as he's healthy, which would give Roy Oswalt an extra day of rest.
Paulino's spot in the rotation became a foregone conclusion after Brian Moehler, who he was competing against for the fifth starting spot, began working out of the bullpen in the final two weeks of Spring Training.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.