LOS ANGELES -- In an attempt to get a little more offense into the lineup, Astros manager Brad Mills has decided to start Geoff Blum at shortstop in place of the struggling Tony Manzella."It's strictly an attempt to get more offense," Mills said. "We put another good bat in our lineup and it stretches out our lineup, separating Pedro Feliz and Hunter Pence with a left-handed bat. A good left-handed bat at that." Blum is leading all Houston batters with a .323 average in 62 at-bats. With the team hitting a league-low .228, Mills felt that he needed to do something to get his better bats into the lineup. "Is it going to be a situation where he's going out there three or four times a week? I doubt that," Mills said, adding that, "Because of where he is in his career, it would be tough to do that." Blum, who hasn't played there this season, has been working out at shortstop and has played there almost 200 times during his career. As for losing Blum's bat off the bench, Mills admitted that it definitely weakens the bench, but added, "Hopefully we'll get into a situation where we won't need that bench as much."
Manzella staying focused through struggles
LOS ANGELES -- Though he sat out on Monday and possibly a few more games, Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella doesn't think his struggles will last."We're trying a lot of things, working a lot with batting coach Sean Berry, watching video, pulling out some stuff from last year, trying to get things ironed out in my swing," Manzella said. Through his first 90 at-bats, Manzella is hitting just .178. Teammates, however, have been supportive of his struggles, many having gone through this same thing.
"Lance Berkman said it took him three times up and down before he made the adjustments he had to in order to stick," Manzella said.Manzella also admitted that this is not a completely new experience.
"I hit .212 my first 200 at-bats in Triple-A, and then came around and hit .290 in Triple-A the next year," he said.Asked what the biggest difference has been so far, Manzella said it was getting more quality pitches in an at-bat.
"The pitch you try to hit might not be as good a pitch to hit as the one you hit in the Minors," Manzella said.Overall, Manzella thinks that things are getting better.
"I feel like I'm getting myself into better hitters' counts. My swing is not quite where it needs to be, but it's getting there," he said. "I was trying to be too aggressive in certain counts. When you get yourself into a good hitter's count you need to be shorter to the ball."There is an adjustment to make in every level, and so far, I've done that."
As for the move to the Majors, Manzella was equally confident.
"From what I've experienced, I don't think it's going to be an adjustment that I can't make," he said. "I'm not trying to rush anything, would like it sooner than later."
With Monday's lineup, the Astros have now used 36 different batting orders in 39 games as manager Brad Mills tries to find a way to generate some offense. Houston has won 12 of 15 games when it scores four or more runs, but is 1-20 when scoring three or fewer. The 36 batting orders are the most by any club in the Majors. ... Houston has used only five starters and not one has missed a turn.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.