WASHINGTON -- Joel Osteen, the popular pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Monday's game at Nationals Park. Osteen and his wife, Victoria, are in Washington promoting his "America's Night of Hope" event at the ballpark April 28.
"We do about 12 of them a year, and we do one ballpark a year," Joel Osteen said. "We did Chicago last year, and we're coming here soon. We came to scope things out and do some media and things like that."
Osteen grew up in Houston as a big Astros fan and has fond memories of watching games in the Astrodome as a kid.
"I've seen them a whole bunch of times, and still see them quite a few times throughout the year," he said. "Probably some of my fondest memories were going with my parents and seeing [Cesar] Cedeno and some of those guys. It's always a special place to go, to the Dome."
As far as faith and baseball are concerned, Osteen sees a connection.
"I just think that baseball is about perseverance and letting go of the night before when it didn't work," he said. "Sometimes we tie those things together. The two are about family."
Schafer in lineup, no plans to slide feet first
WASHINGTON -- Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer was in the lineup Monday against the Nationals, one day after leaving Sunday's game against the Marlins after he was hit in the head by the knee of shortstop Jose Reyes while making a head-first slide into second. Schafer was dizzy following Sunday's game.
Schafer, who injured his left hand making a head-first slide last year with the Braves, says he's not about to quit sliding head first. In fact, Schafer says he physically can't slide feet first.
"There's a very good chance I'd tear my ACL if I slid feet first, so I don't even mess with it," he said. "People tell me all the time it's dangerous sliding head first, especially with the injuries I've had to my hands. There's a very high chance of me doing serious damage [to my legs] if I slide feet first. It's just not something I'm very good at."
Schafer, who wears a brace on his left hand when running the bases to protect it from injury, has practiced sliding feet first throughout his pro career, and even has gotten pretty good at sliding on the slick mats used during slide practice in Spring Training. But doing it in a game? That's another story.
"If there's a double play to try to break up, I'll try, but it's more of like a roll than a slide," he said. "Or if there's a play at the plate I'll slide, but it's not very good. For the most part, I always slide head first."
Mills sticks with Buck in series opener vs. Nats
WASHINGTON -- Travis Buck was in the lineup in right field on Monday instead of Brian Bogusevic. It was Buck's second start of the season.
Manager Brad Mills said Buck simply needs to get some at-bats, and it doesn't hurt he's been swinging a hot stick.
"He's a professional hitter," Mills said. "He's got a good approach. That's the best way to describe him."
Buck, who made the team out of Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, had four hits in 12 at-bats entering Monday, including a single, a double and a triple in five pinch-hit plate appearances. Mills has been impressed with Buck's all-around game, not just his bat.
Bogusevic, also a left-handed hitter, has struggled this season at the plate (4-for-29 entering Monday), but Mills isn't ready to make any wholesale changes to his lineup this early in the season.
"As a manager, I don't want to shut the door on anybody, whether it's a guy that came out of spring as an everyday player or a bench guy coming out of Spring Training," he said. "You give them the opportunity if they're able to have a really good ballgame."
Luhnow says no talks about trading Myers
WASHINGTON -- Despite rumors that closer Brett Myers was on the trade market, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday the team isn't involved in any trade discussions with anybody, which isn't a surprise less than two weeks into the season.
"We're not having any conversations with anybody about any players," he said. "The season just got started. We're pretty happy with the group of players we have, and the focus right now is on winning ballgames. And Brett is doing a good job in his new role, and we need him here."
Myers was moved into the closer role this spring after starting 66 games the last two years with the Astros. He successfully converted his first two save chances this year. Myers is in the last year of his contract, but had his option for 2013 re-worked to vest on the number of games finished instead of starts.
The Astros have made blockbuster deals at the Trade Deadline the past two years. In 2010, they traded away Roy Oswalt (Phillies) and Lance Berkman (Yankees), and last year traded Hunter Pence (Phillies) and Michael Bourn (Braves). The prospects they've received in those deals have helped to drastically improve their Minor League system.
The ERA of starter Bud Norris dropped Monday to 4.15 without throwing a pitch. The Astros argued an earned run charged to Norris in his previous start Saturday against the Marlins should have been an unearned run, and baseball agreed. That gives Norris quality outings in both of his starts. In the game, he threw a ball to third baseman Chris Johnson, who had the ball kicked out of his glove by the runner. Johnson has been tagged with a tough-luck error.
The replica Colt .45s jerseys the Astros will be distributing to the first 10,000 fans on Friday will not have the revolver on the front. In March, after Astros fans voiced their opinions to include the revolver on the jersey that will be worn by the Astros players, owner Jim Crane made the decision to include the revolver on the player's jerseys. The replica jerseys, however, were ordered well in advance of that decision.