HOUSTON -- Perhaps none of the players the Astros called up when rosters expanded are more grateful for the opportunity than 31-year-old catcher Brian Esposito. He had a very brief stint in the Major Leagues three years ago and has been toiling in the Minors with younger players ever since to get another chance.
Esposito spent seven days in the Majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007 and played in one-half inning of one game at Minute Maid Park without getting an at-bat. He was on deck when Astros closer Brad Lidge struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the game.
"At the end of the day, I put all the work in and to just get an opportunity like this makes you feel like all the hard work you've put into it has paid off," Esposito said. "It's a good feeling for me. I know I worked hard and busted my butt to get myself in position to do this."
Esposito, who hit .203 at Triple-A Round Rock, has been with six organizations of 11 professional seasons.
"I don't know how much I'm going to play or how little, but I'm here and available for whatever they need me for," Esposito said. "We'll just take it from there."
Bogusevic ecstatic to get call
HOUSTON -- Brian Bogusevic's long journey to the Major Leagues ended Wednesday when the former first-round pick arrived at Minute Maid Park as one of five players called up from the Minor Leagues. Bogusevic, 26, is the second first-round pick to join the Astros this year; catcher Jason Castro was the other.
"It's what everybody wants to hear while they're playing in the Minor Leagues," Bogusevic said. "I just couldn't wait to get here and start playing here."
Drafted No. 24 overall out of Tulane in 2005 as a pitcher, Bogusevic went 14-21 with a 5.11 ERA in 77 games over four Minor League seasons before switching to the outfield in 2008. He batted .271 with six homers and 53 RBIs last year at Triple-A Round Rock and .277 with 13 homers, 57 RBIs and 23 steals this year for the Express.
"It's been a long journey, but it's been fun and I really wouldn't do anything differently," Bogusevic said. "It's been a lot of hard work, but it's baseball and it's fun. One way or the other, I'm going out there and have fun and take the good with the bad and try to enjoy myself."
Astros manager Brad Mills plans to use Bogusevic as a left-handed bat off the bench, though he will get some playing time in right field.
Right-hander Henry Villar was also called up and will be awaiting his Major League debut. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005, the 23-year-old right-hander was 4-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 36 games at Double-A Corpus Christi, but he impressed the Astros with his ability to throw strikes.
Lindstrom, Keppinger activated from DL
HOUSTON -- Second baseman Jeff Keppinger and relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom, both of whom had been on the disabled list since Aug. 17, were activated prior to Tuesday's game against the Cardinals. Keppinger was back in the starting lineup, batting second.
Keppinger, who had a sprained big toe, appeared in two games and got five at-bats with Double-A Corpus Christi. He's been one of the Astros' most consistent hitters all season, batting .285 with five homers and 46 RBIs entering Wednesday.
"After those two rehab days, I haven't felt anything," Keppinger said. "Hopefully, it's calmed down and won't come back."
Lindstrom, who has been hampered by a lower back strain, threw one scoreless inning on Tuesday night at Corpus Christi and isn't expected to pitch for the Astros on Wednesday. Manager Brad Mills said Lindstrom felt some minor discomfort in his back.
Lindstrom, who has been hampered by a lower back strain, threw one scoreless inning Tuesday night at Corpus Christi and then set Brendan Ryan, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday down in order in the seventh on Wednesday in his first action since Aug. 16. Lindstrom was 2-4 with 22 saves in 28 chances and a 4.15 ERA prior to his outing on Wednesday.
Downs not available until Saturday
HOUSTON -- Infielder Matt Downs, who was called up by the Astros on Tuesday, won't be available to play until Saturday. Downs was claimed off waivers from the Giants on Aug. 25 and by rule must spend 10 days in the Minor Leagues before he can play in a Major League game.
Downs, 26, appeared in 26 games for the Giants this year, primarily at second base, hitting .244 with one home run and seven RBIs. In three Minor League stops with Triple-A Round Rock, Triple-A Fresno and Rookie Arizona League Giants, he hit a combined .242 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," Downs said. "Obviously, they wanted me, and I'm excited to be here."
Downs, who can play all over the infield, started three games against the Astros in May and went 1-for-9 with a run scored.
"The Giants were getting me to play a utility infield-type role, but I can go to the outfield," Downs said. "I don't know what the plan is, but I'll play it by ear and see what they want me to do."
Astros honor broadcaster Hamilton
HOUSTON -- The Astros honored Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton on the field prior to Wednesday's game for working 65 years in baseball. Hamilton, who turns 83 on Thursday, was presented with a shadow box of moments and memories of his career. Hamilton has also had a scholarship named after him.
The presentation was made by Astros owner Drayton McLane, former second baseman Craig Biggio and hitting coach and franchise icon Jeff Bagwell.
"When I was growing up in the '30s, I thought if I lived to be 65, it would be great, let alone be broadcasting for 65 years," Hamilton said. "I'll be 83 tomorrow and I'm going to keep on doing this until they haul me away. I love it, I love this game, I love this team and I love doing baseball."
Hamilton is in his 26th season as the voice of the Astros. He's been broadcasting Major League games since 1953 with stops in St. Louis, Chicago with the Cubs and White Sox, Atlanta and Pittsburgh. He called Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th homer in 1974, as well as serving as play-by-play announcer for the 1979 World Series champion Pirates.
Hamilton received the Ford C. Frick Award in 1992 and was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.