HOUSTON -- The Astros moved a huge step closer to getting another valuable arm back to the bullpen when they announced Thursday that right-hander Josh Fields, taken by the club in last year's Rule 5 Draft, would begin a Minor League rehab stint at Class A Quad Cities.
Fields, who appeared in two games in the first week of the season before going on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, is scheduled to throw two innings Friday against Cedar Rapids in his first rehab appearance.
"He clearly has passed a hurdle that we were hoping he would pass and now we're ready to see him in games in real competition," general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
Fields had been working out at extended spring training and pitched twice in back-to-back games with short rest without any problems.
"Now it's up being underneath the lights in more intense competition and see how it goes, and hopefully he'll progress from there and end up here shortly," Luhnow said. "We have a plan for him. He's going to pitch a certain number of innings over a certain number of days. We're not so much looking at how many guys he strikes out, but it's more of how he's feeling, because we know he's capable of doing what he did with his two innings up here. He'll be a nice addition to the bullpen when he's ready to come back."
Back in Majors, Paredes showing more confidence
HOUSTON -- The early returns have been good for right fielder Jimmy Paredes, who entered Thursday hitting .375 (3-for-8) in two games since he was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City. All three of his hits have been doubles, and Paredes said following Wednesday's game he feels more comfortable than he did when he was called up last year.
"It's amazing how [being] comfortable and confidence go hand in hand," manager Bo Porter said. "You're talking about a guy that's part of the reason we decided to bring him up here, because he was playing with a lot of confidence at Triple-A. I wanted to keep that confidence rolling, and he's done a tremendous job in the short period of time he's been here."
Paredes, who has been tried out at second base, third base and shortstop by the Astros in recent years before being moved to the outfield last year, hit .366 at Oklahoma City. Paredes had a strong debut in 2011 with Houston when he hit .286 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 46 games, but he struggled when he was called up late last year, hitting .189 in 24 games.
General manager Jeff Luhnow even senses a different level of confidence this year in Paredes.
"Confidence was the one theme I heard from everybody I spoke to who had been to Oklahoma City, and just watching his at-bats closely over the last couple of days, he's almost daring the pitcher to try to get something by him and fouling off bad pitches and waiting for his pitch," Luhnow said. "His pitch isn't necessarily in the strike zone -- it might be down by his feet -- but he's still going to hit a double. It makes for a pretty exciting ballplayer. He's got tremendous tools, and I think he's better than he was last year when he got here. He deserved the promotion last year, and I'm hoping this one is permanent."
Porter in favor of having home runs reviewed by replay
HOUSTON -- Manager Bo Porter likes the idea of using instant replay to get home run calls correct, but he wasn't ready to make any sweeping generalizations following Wednesday's home run controversy in Cleveland.
"You want to make sure that it's correct, whether the ball leaves the ballpark or doesn't leave the ballpark," Porter said.
The disputed play occurred when Oakland's Adam Rosales hit a long drive to left-center field for what appeared to be a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth, but it was called in play on the field and Rosales reached second base. Numerous replays appeared to show the ball clearing the yellow line atop the fence at Progressive Field, caroming off a railing.
However, after the umpiring crew viewed the replay, crew chief Angel Hernandez emerged from beneath the stands and ruled that Rosales would have to stay at second base, drawing an angry reaction from A's manager Bob Melvin, who then was ejected. Oakland loaded the bases before a Seth Smith groundout ended the game.
Porter didn't want to address the Indians-A's play specifically.
"I think it's very dangerous to talk in hypotheticals when you talk about a sensitive topic in our game," he said. "I will say this: I'm one of those people that believe that anything we can do advance the fairness of our game and get it right, I'll be all for it."