HOUSTON -- Astros owner Drayton McLane has reportedly entered into an "exclusive negotiating window" to sell the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane, according to a report Friday by Houston radio station KILT (610 AM).
McLane, when reached by MLB.com on Friday, wouldn't confirm the report.
"We're negotiating with him, but we're negotiating with several other people," he said. "We're trying to do a deal with several people, and certain Jim Crane is one of them."
McLane announced in November he was accepting offers for the sale of the club he purchased more than 18 years ago, and he said he desired local ownership. Crane is the CEO and founder of Houston-based Crane Capital Group.
McLane said in December 2009 that he had a tentative agreement with Crane to purchase the Astros following the 2008 season, but a deal couldn't be reached. Crane previously bid to purchase the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.
The negotiations are being handled by Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company, a New York-based investment bank. Greenberg said in March he was in discussions with multiple parties and that the process was "closer to the finish line than we are the starting line," but didn't acknowledge Crane's interest.
Wallace day to day with hip contusion
HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Brett Wallace left the club's 5-0 loss on Friday in the seventh inning with a right hip contusion after colliding with burly Brewers slugger Prince Fielder at first base. Wallace is listed as day to day.
Wallace, who went 2-for-2 to raise his batting average to .388, was playing first base when Fielder hit a ground ball to shortstop Clint Barmes, whose throw to first drifted a few feet toward home plate. Wallace reached out and caught the ball as Fielder barreled into him.
Wallace held onto the ball for the final out and spiked it on the infield dirt. Astros manager Brad Mills and assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones quickly came from the dugout to check on Wallace.
"It was one of those plays when he hit me, honestly, I was more worried about catching it," Wallace said. "When I caught it, I came down and everything was kind of a blur. My whole side was sore at first. I didn't know where he hit me, and it took a couple of seconds to feel where he hit me. Luckily, it was a solid spot."
Barmes goes hitless in Astros debut
HOUSTON -- It took four weeks longer than he had hoped, but Astros manager Brad Mills was finally able to pencil Clint Barmes' name into his starting lineup Friday night.
Barmes made his debut for the Astros in the series opener against Milwaukee, playing shortstop and going 0-for-4 from the second spot. The Astros traded for him in November, but he broke his hand five weeks ago, when he was hit by a pitch in Spring Training, and just completed his Minor League rehab.
"I'm very excited," said Barmes, who went 6-for-15 in four games combined for Triple-A Oklahoma City and Double-A Corpus Christi. "I got four weeks of sitting and watching, and it seemed like four months, that's for sure. I'm excited to get back on the field and compete again and excited to be back with these guys at this level."
Barmes, who is wearing a protective pad on his left hand that's similar to the one worn by Jeff Bagwell for much of his career, said the injury is completely healed. He said he felt good at the plate while on rehab and feels he has his timing down.
"I felt great both offensively and defensively," Barmes said. "I expect to step in and play solid defense. I've been able to keep my body and my legs and my arm in shape. I'm expecting to come in and do my job and work with [second baseman] Bill [Hall] and with [third baseman] Chris [Johnson] and Wally [first baseman Brett Wallace]. I don't see it being an issue."
Mills will find way to get Sanchez into lineup
HOUSTON -- The arrival of shortstop Clint Barmes from the disabled list has pushed Angel Sanchez -- who started the Astros' first 25 games of the season at shortstop -- to the bench, but manager Brad Mills said he's going to figure out ways to get Sanchez playing time.
Sanchez is hitting .300 with 15 RBIs, which is tied for second on the team. He has 30 hits, which ranks third on the club behind Hunter Pence and Brett Wallace..
"He's going to get some playing time," Mills said. "A guy doesn't swing the bat and play like he does and you take everything away from him. He's going to get some time, but don't ask me exactly how today. We're going to move forward on a daily basis and see how thing go and how we can plug him in and help our ballclub."
Mills spoke with Sanchez on Thursday night and told him to be ready to play shortstop or second base. He appeared in seven games at shortstop for the Astros last year.
Barmes has been impressed with what Sanchez was able to do.
"You just can't take him out of the lineup, especially the way he's been swinging from day one," Barmes said. "Coming in, I don't know what the plans are exactly, but he's going to get some time. You look at what he's done, and he's definitely earned the right to get some at-bats here or there and share time with me or get some time somewhere else. He's definitely earned it."
Pence meets with Clark about missed sign
HOUSTON -- Astros right fielder Hunter Pence and third-base coach Dave Clark spoke prior to Friday's game in an effort to clarify things after Pence inadvertently ran through a stop sign in the fifth inning Thursday and wound up scoring on a close play at the plate.
Clark was signaling for Pence to come hard towards third base, and by the time Pence picked up the stop sign, he was already on his way towards the plate and didn't want to get caught in no man's land.
"Today, we did talk about a few things I'm going to use with him that are a little different than anybody else," Clark said. "He's a kid that goes out and gives it everything he's got and plays hard, and sometimes he's a little over-aggressive. I'd rather have a guy like that than a guy that's a little passive.
"He's going to come hard on everything. I think we got it all cleared it. Will it happen again? Probably so."
On Thursday, Pence scored from first base on a ball that hit the signage down the left-field line, took a 90-degree turn to the right and caromed into shallow right field, where Cardinals shortstop Tyler Greene chased it down and threw home.
"I'm looking at Greene getting to that ball pretty quickly," Clark said. "He's got a good arm. Granted, he didn't get a good grip on it and made a bad throw. A good throw, there's a good chance he would have been out. Again, that's when [Pence] and I would have had a [longer] discussion. It ended up being a run."
Astros manager Brad Mills understands why players sometimes run through a stop sign, but he stressed the importance of following the coach.
"There's a trust factor down there and the coach is down there for a reason," he said. "Clarkie's been doing it for a long time and he knows what he's doing. But A guy gets a full head of steam sometimes and he feels he can't stop and you run all the way through it."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.