DETROIT -- Astros manager Bo Porter wasn't shy about giving rookie outfielder George Springer the green light Monday when he had a 3-0 count against Tigers starter Max Scherzer. Springer fouled off three pitches before stroking a single in the first inning against the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner.
The way Porter sees it, pitchers are likely to throw a fastball at 3-0, so it behooves him to give hitters the occasional green light to take advantage of those situations.
"When you start talking about 3-0, there are a lot of variables that go into whether or not you are going to allow a guy to swing or not allowing a guy to swing," he said. "One, [Springer] had been in somewhat of a funk, and you're trying to get him the best pitch he can get given the particular at-bat.
"Scherzer is obviously a strikeout pitcher with great put-away stuff. I didn't feel like it would be advantageous to George to allow him to go 3-0 and [Scherzer] lays a fastball in there, and now he's trying to hit his secondary stuff the next three pitches. I felt that was the best pitch he was going to see, and I wanted him to have the opportunity to put his best swing on that pitch."
Porter doesn't automatically give a green light when it's 3-0, so the players have to look for a sign each time. If the pitcher is struggling to throw strikes, Porter is likely going to have them take at least one pitch to try to draw a walk.
"At the same time, you can't give a guy a green light and now he's swinging at a pitch that is not a good pitch and you go, 'Why did you swing at that?'" Porter said. "You have to trust they're going to look at the pitch they want and they're going to put a good swing on it."
Astros option Fields and recall Zeid from Triple-A
DETROIT -- Admitting he was tired of giving up runs, relief pitcher Josh Zeid went to work with Triple-A Oklahoma City pitching coach Steve Webber a few weeks ago. He made some mechanical adjustments and altered his positioning on the rubber, making it easier for him to throw strikes.
The results Zeid had at Oklahoma City were positive, and the right-hander will get a chance to use what he's learned in the big leagues after the Astros recalled him on Wednesday and optioned reliever Josh Fields to Oklahoma City. Zeid now stands on different parts of the rubber when facing right-handers and lefties.
"It's created some angles, which has allowed me to throw the ball inside to righties and lefties while they're up," Zeid said before being summoned in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Tigers and striking out the only batter he faced. "It was making my breaking ball, my splitter more effective."
Zeid spent three days on the Major League roster last month while Matt Albers was on paternity leave. He pitched two games in Toronto and allowed two earned runs and four hits in three innings. He served as the closer at Oklahoma City and picked up his fifth save Tuesday night, throwing 15 pitches.
Zeid had pitched in 11 games for the RedHawks this year and was 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA, 13 strikeouts and three walks. Astros manager Bo Porter said he wouldn't be shy about using him late in games.
Fields allowed five runs and six hits in two-thirds of an inning in Tuesday's loss to the Tigers. In his last five outings, he gave up 14 earned runs and 14 hits in three innings after starting the season with a 2.00 ERA in his first nine games.
"This is a tough place to try to get your confidence back, and just looking at the big picture, we'll allow him to go to Oklahoma City and gain his confidence back and come back here," Porter said. "He has good stuff. You look at even the beginning of the season, how he started out, but it spiraled. We tried to put him into some lower-leverage innings and after last night it was a decision that was made -- let's get him out of here and go to Oklahoma City and get his confidence back."
Texans fan Cosart shares thoughts on NFL Draft
DETROIT -- There is no bigger Houston sports fan than Astros pitcher Jarred Cosart, who grew up about 27 miles south of Houston and is unabashed about his support for the NFL's Houston Texans and NBA's Houston Rockets. He cheered for the Astros as a kid, as well.
Cosart, who attends most Texans games, is understandably curious to see who the franchise selects with the No. 1 pick in Thursday's NFL Draft. He's hoping for University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.
"To be completely honest, they're going to make the right decision, and I'm not going to complain about it," Cosart said. "Just watching the NFL the last couple of years, the teams that win the championships are the teams that have the best defense. I would take the Mack kid from Buffalo, just from the upside.
"He hasn't had any problems off the field and stuff like that. He seems like a good-character guy, someone who works hard and is going to learn from J.J. Watt, who's arguably the best defender in the National Football League. If you've got two guys, you can't double-team Watt, and that could cause some havoc. Hopefully, we have a healthy [linebacker Brian] Cushing next year, and the defense should look pretty strong."
And what about the local product, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?
"If they go the Manziel route, I hope he's everything they say he is going to be and takes off from the get go and helps us get to the Super Bowl," he said. "That's what I want to see."
Villar out of lineup with jammed right thumb
DETROIT -- Jonathan Villar was out of the starting lineup Wednesday against the Tigers with what manager Bo Porter said was a jammed right thumb. Marwin Gonzalez made his fourth start at shortstop (Villar has started the other 30 games).
Villar came on as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning of the Astros' 3-2 loss at Comerica Park, stealing second and third base before being stranded when Matt Dominguez struck out swinging to end the game.
Porter wanted to give Villar some time off to rest the thumb, which he injured fielding grounders on Tuesday. The shortstop said he'd be back in the lineup for Thursday's finale.
Villar has been one of the Astros' biggest bright spots this year, hitting .250 with five homers and 13 RBIs. He went 0-for-3 on Tuesday to snap a five-game hitting streak. He had reached base safely in 11 consecutive games prior to that.
Villar entered Wednesday leading the team in home runs, slugging percentage (.510) and OPS (.822), and he led all American League shortstops in home runs and extra-base hits (14), while ranking second in OPS.
• Relief pitcher Matt Albers was eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, but he won't be activated until after he throws a simulated game Friday in Baltimore. Albers has been on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.
• The Astros still haven't announced their rotation beyond Scott Feldman's return to action Friday in Baltimore. The club will have to make a move to open up a spot for Feldman, and Porter said that announcement should come Thursday.