ARLINGTON -- The chance to wear the No. 42 of Jackie Robinson is something Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes has been anticipating for quite some time. Hoes, who has never been in the Major Leagues on Jackie Robinson Day, will get that chance Tuesday when the Astros and Royals wear the number at Minute Maid Park.
"It means a lot, just thinking about what he's done for all minorities in baseball," Hoes said. "Being African American, it's something that's going to be very special, and I'm very excited. Without him, I wouldn't have this opportunity to be able to play Major League Baseball. Just realizing what he went through to create an opportunity for everybody to play Major League Baseball, it's something that's tremendous."
All of Major League Baseball will celebrate Robinson breaking the color barrier on Tuesday. This celebration includes all players wearing Robinson's retired No. 42 on their jerseys as well as special pregame ceremonies. When the Astros take the field on Tuesday night, each Astros player will be accompanied by a player from the RBI program.
In addition, manager Bo Porter, minority ownership partner Shaw Taylor, former Astros slugger Jimmy Wynn, several Astros players and players from the Astros Urban Youth Academy and RBI program will attend a Jackie Robinson Night reception prior to Tuesday's game.
"It's always special wearing No. 42," Astros pitcher Jerome Williams said. "It means a lot, especially being African American. A couple of years ago, that was my first game I pitched against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and I wore 42 and it was awesome. It was an honor to wear No. 42 and it puts everything in perspective, and I know how important that number is."
Astros showing efficiency on bases
ARLINGTON -- One of the Astros' goals this season was to be more efficient on the bases. So far, so good. They were successful on their first eight stolen base attempts of the season before shortstop Jonathan Villar was thrown out trying to steal in the third inning of Sunday's game.
The goal, third-base coach Pat Listach says, is to be 80 percent successful while stealing bases. Last year, only two teams finished higher than 80 percent (Red Sox at 86.6 percent and Royals at 82.7 percent), with the Astros coming in 27th from among 30 teams at just 64.3 percent.
"We think if it's less than 80 percent, you're doing more harm than good," Listach said. "We've tried to pick the right spots and let them go."
Jose Altuve has four stolen bases, Jonathan Villar has three and Robbie Grossman has one. Listach says all the speed guys, including Dexter Fowler, have the green light for the most part from manager Bo Porter.
"We want them going 'til we hit a stop sign," he said. "Certain situations, when [Jason] Castro is up or [Chris] Carter is up and we don't want to run into an out, we'll stop them. For the most part, Altuve, Villar, Dexter, these guys have the green light. They've been really good.
"I know in the past -- I don't want talk about last year -- but I was told Villar ran into some outs on the bases. We tried to eliminate that. You only get 27 outs. You can't give them outs. You give the other team outs, you end up losing. The same thing goes on defense."
Porter not panicking over offensive struggles
ARLINGTON - The Astros have struggled on offense this year, hitting .189 as a team entering Sunday, but have benefited from the long ball. They have 15 home runs, which ranks second in the Major Leagues, with five of those coming in one game.
Still, manager Bo Porter would like to see his club not be as reliant on home runs as the season continues to unfold.
"Home runs are always good but you would rather see four or five singles and a couple doubles in a row," he said. "I think overall the guys are getting in a groove. I think they're starting to not miss their pitch. I think early on we were selective to the point where we were getting good pitches and fouling them off or swinging and missing. I think guys are really getting a good pitch now and they're starting to put their A swing on it."
Only four of the Astros' 13 position player were hitting better than .200 entering play Sunday, but Porter isn't ready to explore options at Triple-A.
"We're going to concern ourselves with the guys that we have here," he said. "I've always said that I'm not going to discuss players that are not here because if they're not here they can't help us win. The guys that are here, we're going to run them out there and they're going to have to get it done.
"And I believe in the guys in this clubhouse. Again I think it starts with getting on the fastball. You get on the fastball you have a chance to hit here. If you don't get on the fastball, it's going to be tough."