HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Brett Wallace has taken advantage of being in the lineup nearly every day since he was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 30, entering Sunday's game with a .265 batting average and a career-high eight homers and 22 RBIs.
Wallace has shown the Astros the kind of pop they didn't see last year when he began the year as the starter at first, and he's proven he can hit lefties. He was hitting .278 with two homers off lefties entering Sunday after hitting .354 against southpaws at Triple-A.
"I feel good," Wallace said. "Obviously, we worked on a lot of things from Spring Training through the end of the year in Triple-A, and when I came back it was an opportunity to show them what I had worked on and that I could implement that every day up here. There's been ups and downs, but I think I've been able to drive the ball more and produce more runs and things like that."
Wallace, a former first-round pick of the Cardinals who has been traded three times, knows nothing is guaranteed in this game. And with top prospect Jonathan Singleton, a first baseman, coming off a strong season at Double-A, Wallace will keep working.
"For my mindset, I have to come into camp and win the job," Wallace said. "I have to put myself in better position and show them I can make adjustments and I'm able to work on things. I definitely feel good going into the offseason and I'm not going to take anything for granted. Hopefully, they like what I've been able to do and the adjustments I've made."
Barnes plans to head to Venezuela in the offseason
HOUSTON -- Playing deep into September and in the first week of October will be a new experience for Astros rookie center fielder Brandon Barnes, but that's not going to keep him away from the field when the regular season ends.
Barnes, who was called up from Triple-A on Aug. 7 for his Major League debut, plans to play for about a month with Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League immediately after end of the Major League season. Barnes played in Australia last winter.
"There's great competition out there, and it will help me to go and play," he said. "I'll keep refining my approach at the plate and just learn new things as I go along. Just the biggest thing is my plate discipline getting better and continuing to improve if I want to play at a high level like this and be as good as I can be."
Barnes, 25, spent more than seven years in the Astros' system before finally making his debut. He entered Sunday hitting .221 with a homer and seven RBIs, though he had struck out 21 times in 77 at-bats. He also has a pair of spectacular diving catches in center field in his brief time up.
In Venezuela, Barnes hopes to get 70-80 at-bats.
"I'm going to play the same game and try to refine some things and work hard," he said.
DeFrancesco looks to get two more starts from Norris
HOUSTON -- Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said Sunday there's a chance Bud Norris won't make his scheduled start Wednesday. Not only has Norris been battling a pesky blister, but he's been suffering from flu and cold symptoms for the last week or so.
"Hopefully, he will be alright," DeFrancesco said. "We're trying to make sure he's OK before we make an announcement that he's going to start Wednesday. We're trying to figure out the rotation for the [last] nine games."
This has been a frustrating season for Norris, who has dealt with a variety of ailments this year, ranging from a knee sprain to the blister. He hasn't won since May 21, going 0-12 with a 6.17 ERA in his last 18 starts, though he has pitched well enough to win several of those.
"He has to be healthy physically and we're going to make sure that flu symptoms are out and he's going to be fine to pitch the rest of the season," DeFrancesco said. "We're hoping to get two [more] starts out of him."