HOUSTON -- On Thursday, shortstop Jake Elmore made his first Major League start after John McDonald was scratched with a sore elbow.
Elmore earned another start on Friday, but once again, the lineup wasn't quite final yet. When left fielder Jason Kubel was scratched with a stiff neck, Elmore moved from seventh to second in the lineup.
Manager Kirk Gibson said he likes how Elmore can get the bat on the ball, creating potential hit-and-run plays at the top of the lineup.
"[Triple-A manager Brett Butler] told me Elmore was the best No. 2 hitter he's ever had," Gibson said.
Stephen Drew, batting .206 heading into Friday's game, didn't start for the second straight night after starting in 11 of the D-backs' first 13 games in August.
McDonald's status is still questionable.
"He's not a spring chicken," Gibson said of McDonald. "Sometimes when you get older, things do pop up like that from time and time and resolve themselves quickly. We'll know more about it today, tomorrow and the next day."
On Thursday, Gibson told Elmore he was starting just a few moments before the game. The manager laughed about how the 25-year-old reacted.
"He looked at me and then reached out and re-tied his shoes," Gibson said. "I guess you tie them looser if you're not playing."
Elmore, who came up from Triple-A Reno on Aug. 11, went 2-for-4 with a double in Thursday's game.
Kubel scratched with neck stiffness
HOUSTON -- Left fielder Jason Kubel was scratched from Friday's lineup after he continued to feel the effects of a stiff neck incurred on the D-backs' flight from St. Louis on Thursday night.
Kubel, originally batting third for Friday's game, said he fell asleep sitting up on the plane. His neck bothered him while he was hitting in the cage before Friday's game, so he told manager Kirk Gibson, who decided to take Kubel out of the lineup.
"That's the thing you want to try to take care of as opposed to irritating it," Gibson said.
Gerardo Parra took Kubel's spot in left field and batted seventh. Second baseman Aaron Hill batted third.
Trainers worked on Kubel before the game, trying to remove some of the stiffness from his neck. The 30-year-old said he's dealt with neck problems before, missing a couple of games with the issue during his eight-year Major League career.
Kubel expects the issue to be a day-to-day matter and not something more lingering.
Kubel entered Friday's game batting .276 with 25 homers and 77 RBIs in his first season with the D-backs. He didn't start in Thursday's game against the Cardinals, but Gibson said that didn't have anything to do with the neck problems.
Young thrives in Houston homecomings
HOUSTON -- When the D-backs make their yearly trip to Houston, outfielder Chris Young gets a chance to come home.
"It's like a family reunion," said Young, who was born in Houston. "I have literally my entire family here. They come out to the games and show support. I get a chance to hang out with them afterward. It's always a lot of fun for me."
Young has had a lot of fun at Minute Maid Park too, batting .396 in 13 games in Houston heading into Friday. His 1.122 OPS at Minute Maid is his best in any ballpark.
"With the family here, you know that everybody's watching," Young said. "I've had some bad games too, but even when I do, they still show support. It's really not too much added pressure."
Young, who said he needed about 60 tickets for each of the D-backs' three games this weekend, won't get to come to Houston as often in the future with the Astros moving to the American League for the 2013 season.
He admitted that he's disappointed about the Astros leaving, but he also realizes that not every ballplayer gets to play in their hometown.
"I've been able to come here quite a bit," Young said. "Everybody's been able to come out and see me play and I've been able to see them."
Johnson returns to Houston
HOUSTON -- Third baseman Chris Johnson, who spent all of his career with the Astros before being traded to the D-backs on July 29, got a little lost when trying to find the visitor's clubhouse at Minute Maid Park.
"I got to the home locker room and was just like, 'All right, well, anything after this is new,'" Johnson said. "It's pretty fun. It's good to see the guys, but have to take care of business too. It's strange."
Johnson said he was feeling a wide range of emotions, especially considering that he's officially moved to Phoenix.
"I'm excited. I'm nervous," Johnson said. "It's just all part of the trade. This is kind of the last step - -- playing in front of your ex-home crowd. Once we get rid of this, that's it."
Johnson entered Friday's game batting .265 with five homers and 18 RBIs in 15 games as a D-back.
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.