HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder Jason Bourgeois, who's been on the disabled list since May 8 with a strained left oblique, will begin a Minor League rehab assignment Monday at extended spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., before shifting to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Bourgeois took batting prvce on the field Saturday at Minute Maid Park without any problems, and even fielded grounders at second base under the watchful eye of manager Brad Mills.
"I felt real good," Bourgeois said. "The first couple of rounds, it's always in the back of your mind, and you want to ease into it. I can't wait until I'm ready to get out of here and I'm ready for something positive."
Bourgeois said he will spend three days at extended spring before joining Oklahoma City for three or four games. Playing at extended spring will allow Bourgeois a more flexible game regimen in which he can get as many at-bats and play in as many innings as necessary. He hopes to be activated when the Astros begin their next homestand on June 7.
"If all goes well, we would assume by the time we come off the road trip, or the day after, or shortly thereafter, he would be ready to go," Astros general manager Ed Wade said.
Cancel excited to join Astros behind the plate
HOUSTON -- Catcher Robinson Cancel received the news Friday night that he would join the Astros after Houston catcher Humberto Quintero sprained his ankle on a collision at the plate in the seventh inning.
Cancel hit .324 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 30 games at Oklahoma City, his seventh Triple-A team since being drafted by the Brewers in 1994.
"I'm just going to try to help the team the best I can," Cancel said. "It's fun to be here. I'm excited."
He is expected to catch pitcher Jordan Lyles in Lyles' Major League debut Tuesday night. Lyles was the Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
"The times I caught him he was very good," Cancel said. "He was fun to catch."
Cancel's 0-for-3 night Friday snapped a 17-game hitting streak for the catcher, who was hitting a blistering .457 in his last 10 Triple-A games.
"I was swinging the bat pretty well," Cancel said. "I was driving the ball and using the whole field."
Cancel has appeared in 43 Major League games with the Brewers and Mets.
Downs fully embraces role as utility man
HOUSTON -- Infielder Matt Downs, who entered Friday night's game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and remained in the game at first base, is exemplifying his utility status.
Downs has played two games at first base, eight games at third and nine games at second this season. He played second base, third and shortstop in 2010.
"I weigh 180 [pounds], so I'm not the typical first baseman," Downs said. "But I guess it does help the team out in a situation like yesterday, where I can go to first and keep Carlos [Lee] in left field."
He has even taken fly balls in the outfield during batting practice. The utility athlete played all across the diamond in the Minor Leagues, registering appearances at every position except for center field, pitcher and catcher.
"Knowing my role and knowing I could be at any position helps out a lot in being prepared mentally," Downs said.
Downs nearly gave the Astros a late lead Friday night at Minute Maid Park, as his pinch-hit fly ball was caught at the warning track against the left-field wall.
Wade attends college game with Crane
HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade arrived at Minute Maid Park about an hour before first pitch Saturday after traveling with prospective team owner Jim Crane to Cary, N.C., for the Division II College World Series.
Crane, who on May 16 signed a sales purchase agreement as the lead investor to buy the club from Drayton McLane, invited Wade to travel on his private plane to watch Crane's alma mater, Central Missouri, play in the national tournament. Crane's team lost to Winona State, 4-3, in the first round.
"It was a chance for us to get to know one another and talk about the club and the future of the club and what we're trying to do, and flesh out some things regarding the Draft," Wade said. "We had a meeting early in the week to go over the Draft itself, and afterwards he told Drayton he was going to his game and wanted to know if it would be alright for me to come along and get to know each other."
Crane, who has been invited by McLane to participate in next month's First-Year Player Draft, received a bachelor of science degree in industrial safety from Central Missouri, where he was an accomplished pitcher from 1973-76. He still holds the school record with 18 strikeouts in a 1974 game against Ohio Northern.
If Major League Baseball approves his bid, Crane is expected to take ownership of the Astros in July.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.