HOUSTON -- Friday was a little more special for the 10 Astros players who were making their first appearance on an active Opening Day roster: second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielders J.D. Martinez and Brian Bogusevic, catcher Jason Castro, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and pitchers David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Fernando Rodriguez, Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell.
"Opening Day is a big day," said Martinez, who was called up last July. "I used to go to Opening Day in Miami and it was a big, big game. That was the game to go to. I'm just excited to be part of it now, and I'm the guy standing on the field now instead of being in the stands."
Carpenter, who pitched in 34 games in his first Major League season last year, relished the chance to be on the Opening Day roster and get introduced before the fans.
"I've heard so much about it," he said. "Guys talk about how great Opening Day is, and to get to see it firsthand is going to be a lot of fun. I've got a feeling there's going to be butterflies like there was the first time I got the chance to take the mound here. I'm really looking forward to it."
Perhaps no one was more excited than Cruz, a hard-throwing pitcher taken in the Rule 5 Draft last December. He had never played above Double-A prior to the Astros plucking him away from the Mets.
"I felt so excited when they told me for the first time I had made the team," he said. "I'm still working hard and trying to help the team all the time."
Astros place Lowrie on DL; Bixler recalled
HOUSTON -- After days of holding out hope shortstop Jed Lowrie would be able to be in the lineup for Friday's Opening Night game, the Astros opted earlier in the day to put Lowrie on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 29 because of his sprained right thumb.
Lowrie, who will miss at least the first six games of the regular season, injured the thumb diving into second base during a March 28 Spring Training game. Lowrie had worked his way up to hitting off a tee, but wasn't quite ready to go.
The Astros purchased the contract of infielder/outfielder Brian Bixler, with rookie Marwin Gonzalez getting the start at shortstop. The announcement was made by general manager Jeff Luhnow.
"Jeff made the call this morning and told me they decided to put me on the DL and told me to get ready for the Miami series [April 13-15)," Lowrie said. "Some of the decisions are out of my control, but I'm not going to let it get me down because I've made such good progress. I already hit today and felt better again. The plan is to take batting practice [Saturday] and we'll go from there."
Lowrie has no doubts he'll be ready to go in a week.
"I want to get it feeling good as soon as possible," he said. "I want to feel better [Saturday], because that means I can go out and put in some good work however many days it is before I play. Unfortunately, I've been through this before and I know how to handle the situation."
This is the second consecutive season the Astros' presumptive Opening Day shortstop has started the season on the DL. Last year, Clint Barmes missed a few weeks after breaking his hand during Spring Training, paving the way for Angel Sanchez to start on Opening Day.
Gonzalez happy to start at short on Opening Day
HOUSTON -- Marwin Gonzalez was just hoping to make a good enough impression to make the club, never mind starting at shortstop on Opening Day. Gonzalez, acquired from Boston during the Rule 5 Draft in December, started in place of Jed Lowrie, who will start the year on the disabled list.
"I'm pretty happy," Gonzalez said. "It's like living my dream. I want to do the best I can for the team and stay with the team as long as I can."
Because he's a Rule 5 pick, the switch-hitting Gonzalez must remain on the 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to his former club. Astros manager Brad Mills has raved about Gonzalez's defense, and he hit .274 in 60 games last year at Triple-A Iowa of the Cubs organization.
Gonzalez, a native of Venezuela, has plenty of people rooting for him in his homeland.
"Yeah, all my family and friends and the people back home are really happy right now and they were texting me [Thursday] about today and asking if I was going to start or not," Gonzalez said. "I told them I didn't know, but I'm happy I am."