HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills has watched outfielder Carlos Lee for more than two seasons, but he said before Thursday's game that he has never seen Lee more in control of his swing.
Lee picked up multiple hits in each of his past four games and boosted his batting average from .263 to .305 in a matter of five days. He also hit a towering home run in Wednesday night's victory against the Brewers.
"Anytime you got the guy in the middle of your lineup, and he's hot and people are worried about him hitting the ball and especially smoking home runs like he did last night, it makes everybody around him better," Mills said.
Lee, not known for his baserunning abilities, was also able to score from first base Wednesday on a Jed Lowrie double that caromed off the outfield wall. Mills said Lee has been working on his sprints.
"We're going to have to end up getting an oxygen tank in the dugout for him when he comes in," Mills said.
Snyder happy to be healthy, eager to break out
HOUSTON -- Chris Snyder is confident the offense will come around, like it has for much of his career. The most important thing for him at this point of the season is that he feels healthy after an injury-shortened 2011 and the pitching staff has confidence in what he can do behind the plate.
Snyder began play Thursday hitting .154 (8-for-52) with one homer and six RBIs, but he had a hit in each of his previous two starts.
"For me, it's not something I worry about," he said. "Even as an everyday guy, I never really worried about the first 100 at-bats. The first 100 at-bats is more about trying to put up numbers that can't go down than worrying about your average because it can fluctuate so quickly. You do that and you hit your homers and get guys on base and drive guys in, that's what matters."
The presence of a healthy Snyder and the return of starting catcher Jason Castro from last year's knee injury has stabilized an Astros catching situation that was questionable last year. And that's even without a big offensive output from either guy so far.
"I think it's had a very huge impact," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "Both guys are very good in how they communicate with the pitchers to make sure they're doing their best, not only between the white lines but preparing them before they get out there. That's all big."
That being said, Snyder wouldn't mind breaking out with the bat.
"By no means do I enjoy going 0-for-4," he said. "I want to go 3-for-3 with a walk and three homers every day."
Wright on a roll against left-handed batters
HOUSTON -- Left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright finds himself as the third-longest tenured Astros player behind Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Lee. It's been a long, strange ride for Wright, a Rule 5 pick in 2007.
"It really does seem weird because it's been an up-and-down situation for me for the most part," Wright said. "I've learned a lot in the entire time I've been here and am trying to give advice on different issues. ... For the most part, we treat each other the same out there and try to have fun."
Wright, 27, has bounced between the Astros and Triple-A for much of his career, and even has been tried out as a starter. The Astros also tinkered with his delivery a couple of years ago, trying a more sidearm approach, before stepping back and letting him be himself.
The approach has paid off. Wright entered Thursday with a 2.79 ERA in 18 games, having held left-handed hitters to two hits in 23 at-bats. Lefties were 1-for-26 off him last year.
"I think confidence is the biggest part of the game," Wright said. "A lot of times it can mask when you're not as sharp as you need to be, but mentally you convince yourself to go out there and make pitches when you need to make them, and that's the biggest part of being in the bullpen because you're not always going to feel your best."
Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.