KANSAS CITY -- Last season, at the beginning of Robbie Grossman's second stint with the Astros, former first baseman Carlos Pena fielded questions about the newly promoted and scorching-hot Grossman.
As Houston manager Bo Porter tells it, Pena said of Grossman: "Yeah, this Mike guy is just on fire."
And from there, an alter ego was born. "Mike" represents the guy who exploded for a .322/.351/.466 line in 157 plate appearances post-demotion in 2013. "Robbie" signifies the guy who started that season batting just .198 with a lowly .243 slugging percentage before he was sent to the Minors.
Grossman once again struggled at the start of this season, hitting just .125 in his first 14 games. The slump sent him to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he managed a .299/.373/.453 line in 34 games to earn a promotion Sunday.
"Robbie doesn't even exist anymore," Porter said. "Mike is back.
"We're hoping that the stint that he had down there can do the same thing this year, because we can use that offensive weapon in our lineup. We're excited to have him back."
Porter immediately threw Grossman into action, starting him in left field and slotting him into the seventh-hole against Royals starter Yordano Ventura on Monday.
"I'm excited to play, I'm excited to put on this uniform," Grossman said.
Porter: Altuve playing best baseball of career
KANSAS CITY -- Rookie outfielder George Springer stole the headlines last series, and deservedly so, with three home runs in the final two games. But Jose Altuve continued his torrid pace at the plate this season as well.
The Astros' diminutive second baseman recorded at least two hits in all four games against the Mariners, and finished the series 9-for-16 at the plate.
"Altuve's been playing the best baseball of his career," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
With his nine hits in Seattle, Altuve entered Monday's game in Kansas City atop the MLB leaderboard with 70.
Porter alluded to a few changes in Altuve's work ethic this offseason -- including losing 10 pounds, and improved attention to detail with pregame preparation, film study and scouting reports -- that has led to the early offensive barrage.
From last season to this one, through Sunday, Altuve had upped his batting average 43 points, his on-base percentage 50 points, and his slugging percentage 84 points. He also was leading the American League in stolen bases with 17.
"You look and you just go, 'Wow.' It's good to see a guy rewarded for the type of commitment that he's made to his career," Porter said. "He's been a great teammate and just doing everything we can ask of our All-Star second baseman."
Astros honor fallen troops on Memorial Day
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros honored the troops with hints of camouflage in their uniforms when the Royals hosted them on Memorial Day for Armed Forces Night at Kauffman Stadium.
"When you think about the freedom we all get to live each and every day, to be able to pay tribute to the people that allow us to have the freedom that we have, I guess you could say it's a small token of our appreciation, but we all know it goes a long way," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
The camo appeared on the front of the jersey in the lettering of the team's name, and the back of the jersey with the player's numbers and nameplates. The base of the Astros' cap also was camo, with an orange bill.
"It always sends chills down my spine when you get an opportunity to speak to the veterans and just hear some of their stories, it really puts things into perspective of things that we may complain about day in and day out," Porter said. "To hear some of the things in which they've had to go through to provide us the safety and the freedom that we have, it's an honor."
Peacock to get start Thursday against O's
KANSAS CITY -- Astros manager Bo Porter announced that Brad Peacock will start Thursday in the opening game of Houston's three-game series with the Orioles.
Peacock missed his scheduled start last Friday due to soreness in his right forearm.
Porter said Peacock is good to go after a successful bullpen session.
"He didn't have any ill-effects. Actually, it was a really good bullpen [session]," Porter said.
Peacock's overall numbers are not great (1-4, 5.20 ERA), but he's progressed in May. He allowed just two runs in his last outing, an 8-2 win over the White Sox on May 18, and he struck out 11 the start before that.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.