Notes: Astros play it safe with Everett
Shortstop held out of lineup due to stiff lower back
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Adam Everett was omitted from the lineup for the second consecutive day on Thursday as the shortstop continues to play it safe regarding lower back stiffness.
Everett took grounders and hit during batting practice and said he could have played both games in the two days, but as a precaution, he received an extra day off. Mark Loretta started at shortstop for the Astros' game with the Florida Marlins.
"It's nothing alarming," manager Phil Garner said. "It's normal Spring Training stuff. He's perfectly playable and he's probably going to wish he was playing today."
Garner was correct with his estimation.
"I know I can play today and I could have played yesterday," Everett said. "They just want to make sure it didn't get worse."
Everett is experiencing the same discomfort he had last spring, but while last year's ailment required a cortisone shot, he doesn't feel he'll need that this time. Everett slightly altered his workout regimen during the offseason to keep from straining the back area.
Slider 'stunk': Brad Lidge knows Spring Training stats don't count for much, but he would still like to be producing better results than his performance against the Marlins on Thursday.
Lidge gave up three runs on two hits over one inning, walking two with no strikeouts.
"I felt like I probably had the best fastball I had all spring, but my slider stunk today," he said. "We were throwing a lot of them out there to try to get it back and I ended up continuing to throw it for balls, gave up a few hard hit balls for it. That's something I need to address."
Lackluster performances: Three key pieces to the pitching staff -- Lidge, Wandy Rodriguez and Fernando Nieve -- all had rough outings on Thursday, which contributed to the Astros' 9-8 loss to the Marlins.
Rodriguez walked five over 3 2/3 innings, driving his pitch count up to 88.
"I had bad location today," Rodriguez said. "I was trying to make my adjustments but I just couldn't."
Rodriguez added that he was trying to throw too hard.
"Those are things that happen," he said. "You feel good with your shoulder and you think you can throw it harder."
Nieve, who like Rodriguez is attempting to win a spot in the rotation, allowed six runs on three runs over three innings.
"Lidge doesn't have to throw well because he's got a track record," Garner said. "The other guys, we'd like for them to start throwing a little better. Nieve's competing for the fifth starter's job and it's time for him to start getting it all together. I did see a couple good sliders, but it's time to start seeing better results."
Scary moment: Miscommunication between Lidge and Humberto Quintero resulted in a painful few moments for the catcher in the eighth inning.
Quintero called for a slider, but Lidge missed the sign and threw a fastball, which missed Quintero's glove and bounced off his left wrist.
After being checked over by Garner and assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones, Quintero remained in the game long enough to finish the inning.
"Everything's fine," Quintero said. "It's a little swollen but I'm all right."
"I threw a fastball and just smoked his arm," Lidge said. "You know he's got pretty strong arms when that thing just bounced off him and he went right back in there."
Lidge later joked to Quintero about the incident.
"He made me feel like I was throwing about 75 miles an hour," Lidge said. "I was like, 'Dude, that's my best fastball and that didn't even hurt?'"
Backe making progress: Brandon Backe, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has progressed to throwing 30 pitches off the mound and recently, he began to mix in his changeup with his previously all-fastball arsenal.
"I'm just getting the feel of it, that's all," he said. "Just throwing pitches toward the plate."
Backe will throw off the mound again Friday and starting Monday, he will begin tossing a few breaking balls.
"Each week from here on out, I'll progress to trying to get to 100 percent off the mound, however long it takes," Backe said. "I've already started the process by stepping on the mound. I'll keep adding more pitches as far as the amount that I throw and the type that I throw."
Up next: The Astros host the New York Yankees on Friday for a day game beginning at 12:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Woody Williams will face Yankees righty Chien-Ming Wang.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.