HOUSTON -- Last year, Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez had 31 hits under his belt before he slugged the first of his 21 homers. In fact, Dominguez didn't hit his first homer of the season until May 11, which came in his 122nd at-bat.
Dominguez has already slugged a pair of home runs in the first six games of the 2014 season, which account for his only two hits entering Monday. He was 2-for-18 with homers Wednesday against the Yankees and Sunday against the Angels.
"I'm just trying to hit the ball hard," Dominguez said. "I'm not really trying to hit it out of the park. It's just kind of weird that my first two hits are home runs, but I felt like I've been swinging the bat well. It's nice to square balls up and have them go out of the yard. I'm working hard on swinging at good pitches and getting good pitches to hit and getting good swings on them."
Dominguez has had a few good swings. On Sunday, he hit a line drive to left field that Josh Hamilton tracked down with a sliding catch.
"Once those start falling, I think things will start going a lot better," Dominguez said. "My numbers will start improving, like my average. I'm focusing on getting good pitches to hit."
Dominguez is the first Astros player to have his first two hits of the season leave the ballpark since Rick Ankiel a year ago.
Fowler back with Astros, but not in lineup
HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler rejoined the team on Monday following a bout with a stomach virus that had kept him at home for a few days and even put him in the hospital for a night. He told reporters he was feeling better, but was still unavailable to play.
Fowler, who has lost eight pounds during the ordeal, hasn't played since last Thursday, when he went 2-for-4 for the third game in a row. He was set to travel with the team to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays, beginning Tuesday.
"I'm pretty weak right now," Fowler said. "I'm going to see if I can eat some food now. I haven't eaten in three days. It's all been liquids and rice and stuff. I'm getting better and just happy everything has slowed down a little bit and I can go out there and be with the team."
Fowler was in good spirits as he joked around with teammates prior to Monday's game.
"I'm just happy to be around the guys," he said. "I was happy for them [for Sunday's win]. I missed them a lot."
The Astros have definitely missed Fowler at the top of the lineup, but manager Bo Porter understands Fowler needs to build up his strength. Fowler went 6-for-12 in the team's first three games with two doubles, a triple and a homer.
"One of the best decisions the doctor made was allowing him to rest the last few days, instead of trying to rush him back," Porter said. "He showed up today in better condition than he would have shown up yesterday, so that's promising."
Fowler said he hasn't been told what caused the virus and said doctors are still doing tests.
"It happens," Fowler said. "It's part of life. Like I said, it's a blessing that it wasn't worse than it was. It was pretty bad, but luckily I'm still not hospitalized."
Albers placed on paternity leave; Zeid called up
HOUSTON -- Astros relief pitcher Matt Albers was placed on paternity leave Tuesday and was replaced on the roster by right-hander Josh Zeid, who began the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Zeid is expected to be in Toronto for Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays.
Albers and his wife, Tara, are expecting their first child on Tuesday in Houston.
Albers, signed to a one-year, $2.45-million contract in December to pitch for his hometown Astros, pitched in three games during the first week of the season, allowing four hits in 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Players are allowed to take up to three days of paternity leave for the birth of their child.
Zeid was optioned to Triple-A late in spring camp after posting a 4.15 ERA in seven games. He appeared in 25 games in relief for the Astros last year in his Major League debut and was 0-1 with a 3.90 ERA, stranding 15 of the 17 runners he inherited.
Albers, who attended Clements High School in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, appeared in 56 games last season for Cleveland and was 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA. He's pitched eight years in the Majors, including his first two with Houston (2006-07) and three with Baltimore (2008-10).
Krauss looking to find form in early going
HOUSTON -- He was one of the biggest feel-good stories with the way he swung the bat during Spring Training, but infielder/outfielder Marc Krauss has opened the regular season in an 0-for-13 slump entering Monday's series finale against the Angels.
"It's been tough," said Krauss, who hit .293 in the spring. "You never want to start the way I have. I felt pretty good in spring and kind of didn't play that often because I had a couple of injuries. That threw off some timing. I just haven't been able to get that first one out of the way. Maybe I'm putting a bit too much pressure on myself to do that.
"Obviously, I'm not happy with it, but at the same time it's baseball and you're going to go through stretches like this and mine just happened to be at the start of the year, when no one wants to struggle. The positive is we've managed to be .500 [through six games] and I'm not killing the team completely. That's a good thing."
Krauss did miss some time toward the end of Spring Training with the same type of stomach virus that has sidelined Dexter Fowler, in addition to dealing with some stiffness in his lower back.
"No excuse," Krauss said. "I've had the reps and had the chance to get back in the flow of things and just haven't been able to put that swing back out there. I've been working everyday on getting back to that point, but I'm confident I can get back there."
Astros manager Bo Porter says he's not worried about Krauss.
"It's all part of it," Porter said. "A lot of times you have a great spring and then the season starts and you press a little bit and try to get it all back with one swing. I think he's going to be fine. It's early on, it's a small sample. From what he showed in spurts last year and showed in Spring Training, he's going to continue to get opportunities, and we believe he's going to hit."