HOUSTON -- For as unfamiliar as the Astros are to the A's, they do happen to employ more than a few familiar faces.
The American League West's newest team is home to several ex-A's players, including Friday's starting pitcher Brad Peacock, outfielder Chris Carter and southpaw Travis Blackley.
Blackley, traded by the A's to Houston just Thursday, looked very much at ease in his new colors while holding court with a large group of reporters in Houston's clubhouse on Friday afternoon, sharing stories about his time spent in Oakland's stands last weekend, not too long after being designated for assignment.
"I was there with my girlfriend and her family because they were doing the whole pregame thing," Blackley said. "I wasn't going to go to the game, but they had an extra ticket so I thought, 'Why not?' Then I got invited to go hang out in the right-field bleachers. They're always yelling, 'Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!' out to me while I'm pitching, so I might as well go say hello.
"That was really cool. I had never seen that view before. I think if I was a fan at the ballpark, I'd go out there and sit there every time."
Though nothing is certain, Blackley likely won't face his former team this weekend, since he's building back arm strength after not pitching for nearly a week. Houston plans on using him in a long-relief role, as the A's would've done had they kept him.
Blackley's one regret from his time spent in the Bay Area?
"I missed Alcatraz," he said. "Never got there."
Carter, meanwhile, sat just a few feet away from Blackley. He's stationed in left field these days, and says he hasn't taken grounders at first base, where he played for the A's, in nearly a month.
"I was excited to get an everyday opportunity," he said. "Last year I was in a platoon situation, so I'm glad to be here."
Carter's teammates were scouted heavily by A's personnel in advance of the three-game series.
"This is obviously the most difficult team to prepare for, based on the fact we didn't see them in spring, they're new in the league and they have a lot of new players," manager Bob Melvin said. "This can be an uneasy feeling knowing there are a lot of players you know nothing about, and we will down the road, but it's almost like Interleague for now, until you go out and play against them."
Moss stays in Bay Area with pregnant wife
HOUSTON -- A's first baseman Brandon Moss is still awaiting the birth of his second child back in the Bay Area, so the club opted to bring along Shane Peterson to Houston in the event Moss is added to the paternity leave list.
Turns out Peterson won't be in town for long, as he was tentatively scheduled to return to Sacramento on Saturday, with Moss expected to rejoin the team for the club's second game against the Astros. Of course, plans could change in the event his wife, Allison, becomes closer to delivering.
Peterson was eagerly waiting for the chance to make his Major League debut after learning that he would be meeting the team in Houston when pulled out of the fourth inning of Triple-A Sacramento's Opening Night contest Thursday evening.
"I was just enjoying Opening Day," Peterson said Friday afternoon, "and trying to get ready for the season."
His parents, Southern California residents Brad and Sue, were in Sacramento for the game and, upon learning of their son's impending travels, decided to change their own plans and get on a plane to Houston on Friday morning.
"Things are still up in the air, but hopefully I have a chance to get out there," he said. "I'll work out with the team today and just be ready for whatever happens. Any opportunity is a good opportunity."
Peterson was in big league camp with the A's for the first time this year, and he greatly impressed with a .408 average.
"My first time there, I wanted to do well in case anything came up," he said. "I wanted to be the first one they thought of if they needed someone."
Colon ready to get back on hill for A's
HOUSTON -- Following a strong performance in a win against the Astros on Friday night, right-hander Dan Straily was told to pack his bags for Triple-A Sacramento.
The news was very much expected, with Bartolo Colon set to rejoin the A's rotation and make his season debut on Saturday, when the move will be made official. So it really couldn't spoil Straily's mood after such a strong effort.
"It looks really good for me to have that kind of outing," Straily said. "Obviously, it wasn't going to affect [the decision], but for me, mentally, I know it's going to help, because it shows I'm ready. You have to know you're ready to be able to pitch here."
With Colon a day away from making his first big league start in nearly eight months, that means the A's are a day away from their first regular-season look at the veteran following his suspension for performance enhancing drugs.
Manager Bob Melvin believes Colon, who served the last day of his 50-game drug suspension on Friday, will look just like his old self, the one that racked up 10 wins and a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts for Oakland last year.
He walked just one and struck out 22 in 20 Cactus League innings but he also issued 31 hits and 14 earned runs in that span.
"The velocity's still there, his stuff all looks the same," Melvin said. He's the type of guy that, once the season gets going, he's one of the few guys you know that what you see in spring is what you get.
"A veteran presence within the rotation, we don't worry about him a whole lot."
• The A's acquired catcher Stephen Vogt from the Rays on Friday for a player to be named later or cash considerations, and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. To make room on the 40-man roster for Vogt, Oakland designated right-hander Dan Otero -- claimed off waivers a week ago -- for assignment.
Vogt hit .296 with a home run and four RBIs in 16 Cactus League games. He was on Tampa Bay's Opening Day roster last year, and played 18 games (seven at catcher, five at DH and two in left field) spanning three stints for the Rays. The 28-year-old spent the balance of the season at Triple-A Durham, where he hit .272 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 94 games.
• Seth Smith was originally penciled in at designated hitter on Friday, before being scratched in favor of Chris Young. Turns out Smith is fine and the A's simply adjusted their lineup once learning that the Astros' pitching plans for the weekend had changed to ensure that Young didn't sit on back-to-back days.
Right-handers Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell will start for Houston on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Young entered the day as a .343 career hitter against the Astros, his best average vs. any team with a minimum of 50 at-bats.
• A's lefty Brett Anderson will make his Sunday start in Houston in front of several local family members, including his mom, Sandra, and sister, Katelyn. Notably missing will be his father, Frank, the pitching coach at the University of Houston, because the Cougars are playing at Marshall University this weekend.
"Hopefully he'll have other chances later in the season," Anderson said.
The southpaw's family lives just 25 minutes from Minute Maid Park.