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Notes: Club clarifies rotation changes

Notes: Club clarifies rotation changes

HOUSTON -- The Cubs don't want Milwaukee to have any edge in the final two weeks of play, and some eyebrows were raised when Houston changed its pitching rotation so rookies Felipe Paulino and Juan Gutierrez would start against the Brewers, not Woody Williams and Roy Oswalt.

Tal Smith, the Astros interim general manager, called Cubs general manager Jim Hendry to let him know about the switch. Astros manager Cecil Cooper also called Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in a preemptive move.

"He was very professional, and I appreciated the call," Hendry said Tuesday of Smith. "He's an honest guy. I don't think there's anybody sitting at home in Houston orchestrating it, trying to help the Brewers or the Cubs."

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Cooper said he called the Commissioner to assure him he would be putting the best team on the field, despite the pitching changes.

"I don't want to say Woody hasn't pitched well, but he's struggled of late and we're going to give [Paulino] a chance," Cooper said. "I assured the Commissioner we're going to play our better lineup, and that's what we did. We really only had one youngster playing [on Monday] and that was Josh [Anderson]."

Some of the Cubs weren't happy about the change. Oswalt will miss the start to be with his pregnant wife, who was to be induced on Tuesday. The Astros asked Williams to move to the bullpen so they could take a look at Paulino.

"That ticks us off," Cubs outfielder Cliff Floyd said of the switch. "But you can't help family situations. I had one this year [with my father], and Oswalt is having a kid. God bless him and his family.

"I don't understand the Woody Williams deal, but at the same time, I'm not going to question Cecil Cooper's decision to start a rookie. ... It's their team, and they can do what they want to do. At the same time, you'd like everybody to play their guys. Cincinnati was eliminated from the Wild Card [on Monday], and they're playing their hearts out, and that's what you want everybody to do."

Floyd received no sympathy from the Astros' clubhouse.

"Maybe it'll make him feel better that the guy throwing tonight [Paulino] was throwing 97 [mph]," Brad Ausmus said.

Clarification: Smith wanted to make one issue clear on Tuesday: the decision to remove Williams from the rotation had nothing to do with money.

Williams has a provision in his contract that would pay him three levels of incentives based on innings pitched. He reached two levels, but he had to pitch 200 innings to be paid the highest incentive -- $250,000. Williams has thrown 187 2/3 innings and doesn't expect to pitch again this year, which means he'll fall short of 200.

But according to Smith, Williams will receive the $250,000 anyway.

"When we called him in the other day, the first thing I said was, 'I know you have an incentive for 200 innings. We're guaranteeing that. Now, let's talk about something else,'" Smith said.

"This isn't a decision predicated on any financial implications. Drayton [McLane] doesn't do business that way. We wouldn't let that be the determining factor. We made the adjustment in the rotation so we could get a look at the kid pitchers, which is important to Coop and [pitching coach] Dave Wallace and all of us."

Patton shut down: An MRI on Troy Patton's left shoulder revealed tendinitis, but no structural damage. Patton has been officially shut down for the season and will resume a rehab schedule around Nov. 1.

The MRI, according to Patton, showed a large amount of fluid in the biceps tendon, which was causing it to be inflamed.

"That's most likely because of the workload," Patton said. "It's good to know that what we thought was going on is going on. It kind of puts my mind at ease a little bit."

Wall of honor: On Tuesday, the Astros unveiled the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor, which will spotlight current or former Houston media members who have made significant and lasting contributions to the landscape of Houston baseball through their work in journalism or broadcasting.

Each year, a committee consisting of selected local Houston baseball media and Astros front office staff will induct a new member.

The inaugural inductee into the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor is the late Anita Martini, a Galveston native who was a pioneer for women in sports journalism. Martini began her career with Houston radio station KTRH during the 1960s and became the nation's first female sports anchor in the early 1970s, at Houston television station KPRC.

In 1974, she challenged Major League Baseball for the right to join her male colleagues in the clubhouse for postgame interviews with players. Martini won her fight when she interviewed Jimmy Wynn in the Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse after a game at the Houston Astrodome. By the 1980s, she was hosting one of the first call-in sports shows on Houston AM radio station KPRC. She died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 54.

Martini was honored on the field during a pregame ceremony on Tuesday. Her sister, Cathy Arellano, and her nephew, Chance Arellano, were on hand to represent Martini. They were joined by Tal Smith and FSN's Patti Smith, who originally came up with the idea of honoring Martini's memory with a Wall of Honor in the Astros' press box.

Auditioning: Left-hander Stephen Randolph has had mixed results this year, but he is hoping to use the final stages of this season as a springboard for 2008.

Randolph spent nearly a month on the disabled list with a sprained right knee, so he has been limited with his attempts to showcase his abilities. But he certainly helped himself on Monday against the Brewers, when he struck out five over two innings.

"I wanted to get healthy and get out there for a few outings, and put a little something in their mind and hopefully it'll carry over to next year," Randolph said. "Hopefully, they'll put my name in a hat, and hopefully down the stretch, I'll be up for a job."

Randolph has made two relief appearances since he was activated from the DL. He yielded two runs in two-thirds of an inning upon being activated from the DL on Saturday, prior to pitching two scoreless innings during the Astros' shutout loss on Monday. Over 11 relief appearances this year, Randolph has allowed 14 earned runs over 11 1/3 innings.

Coming up: The Astros will conclude their extended nine-game homestand with their final meeting with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday beginning at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Juan Gutierrez (1-1, 6.10 ERA) will face Brewers righty Dave Bush (11-10, 5.34).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Carrie Muskat contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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