Michaels assumes role as veteran leader

Michaels assumes role as veteran leader

HOUSTON -- The Astros, as they are doing most games these days, started four rookies once again Monday with Angel Sanchez at shortstop, Chris Johnson at third base, Brett Wallace at first base and Jason Castro at catcher.

Jason Michaels, 34, got the start for the Astros in center field against the Mets, which marked his 19th start of the season and eighth in center. The departure of veterans Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman at the Trade Deadline leaves Michaels in a shrinking group of older players, but he enjoys playing alongside the youngsters.

"It's nice to see some of these young guys really doing a great job," he said. "I think, as a whole, we're playing better as a team. We're playing better and that creates a batter chance of winning."

Michaels and clubhouse neighbor Geoff Blum are two of the guys the younger players look up to now that Oswalt and Berkman are gone.

"They're great players, and I don't know if you can ever replace them and what they meant to this organization," Michaels said. "In respect to Geoff and I, we try to keep it sane in here, I guess."