HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills plans to spend a few days following the end of the season visiting the instructional league in Florida, where most of the Astros' top prospects will play and work out for a month at the team's Spring Training facility in Kissimmee.
The Astros close out the regular season Sept. 28, and Mills plans to be in Florida the following Monday and will stay for four days.
"I'll go down there for three or four days and watch those kids," Mills said.
Mills said the experience of watching the instructional league last year was beneficial, especially considering the direction the club is headed. Among the players Mills saw last year in Florida were Jose Altuve and Jimmy Paredes, both of whom were in the Major Leagues by the end of July this year.
"It's nice to get introduced to those guys and see how they play," Mills said. "There's a lot of benefit to it, I feel. Those guys that are in the instructional league, they've seen they're not very far away [from the Major Leagues]. A lot of times, you're in the Minor Leagues and you think the Major Leagues are a long way away and it's going to take forever to get there. Those guys see a lot of youngsters [helping the Astros this year] and see how quickly they can get there."
Michaels' season done after breaking hand
HOUSTON -- Astros veteran outfielder Jason Michaels was scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery Wednesday morning after breaking a bone in his left hand making a diving catch in the second inning of the Astros' 5-2 win over the Phillies on Tuesday.
Michaels, the oldest player on a team that features 16 rookies, made his 29th start of the season and went 0-for-1 before being forced to leave the game with a displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal of his left hand. Normal recovery time is approximately six weeks.
Michaels, 35, was injured when he made a diving catch to rob Ryan Howard of a hit in the second inning and rolled his glove hand under his body.
"I couldn't close my glove," he said.
The injury capped what was a frustrating season for Michaels, who batted .199 with two homers and 10 RBIs in a part-time role this year. He was 8-for-45 (.178) as a pinch-hitter.
"It's just the exclamation point," Michaels said. "It stinks."
The injury leaves the Astros with five healthy outfielders, but manager Brad Mills said the team would be able to manage in the final two weeks of the season.
Mills gives Schafer time to rest shin
HOUSTON -- Facing a left-handed starting pitcher Tuesday, it wasn't surprising to see center fielder Jordan Schafer out of the starting lineup. But it's a rest that Schafer probably needed after fouling a ball off his right shin in Monday's win over the Phillies.
Schafer, who was replaced in the lineup Tuesday by Jason Bourgeois, had the shin heavily taped and said a day of rest would do him some good. He's been diagnosed with a bruised shin.
"I haven't done that since '08," Schafer said about fouling the ball off his shin. "I used to do it a lot, and I haven't done it in a long time, so usually if that happens the bounce gets you first, but there was no bounce in that one. It was a direct hit. I'll be alright. I'll try to take today and rest."
Astros manager Brad Mills said Schafer would be used if needed. He had started 17 of the previous 20 games in center field prior to Tuesday.
"He wasn't going to be in the lineup [Tuesday] anyway, but at the same time he has played in Washington [last weekend] against a couple of lefties, but with that bruise that kind of added a little bit to it," Mills said. "He says he's OK and well enough to play, but, if need be, he can go in and play."
Catcher Jason Castro, who missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in March, has ramped up his rehab at the instructional league, manager Brad Mills said. Castro is catching without the benefit of padding that takes pressure off his knees, but he's not quite ready to get into games.
Mills said the club has requested that left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright be used exclusively as a relief pitcher when he pitches in Caribbean this winter. Wright, who had been used as a starter last winter in the Dominican, has settled into a relief role, and Mills wants to make sure he gets on the mound a few times a week.