Cooper tweaks lineup to give it a jolt

Cooper tweaks lineup to give it a jolt

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Cecil Cooper is running out of patience with Houston's struggling offense.

Cooper has been tweaking the lineup in an attempt to ignite a Houston offense which entered Saturday's game against Colorado ranked 29th among the 30 Major League teams in both hitting and on-base percentage.

"We've got to get some things changed," Cooper said. "We haven't been the same team since Spring Training."

On Saturday, Cooper made his biggest changes yet, moving Lance Berkman from third in the batting order to cleanup, Carlos Lee from cleanup to fifth and Miguel Tejada from fifth to third.

Berkman hadn't batted fourth since last season. Lee hadn't been in the lineup anywhere except cleanup this season and Tejada hadn't batted third since he joined the Astros.

"You might even see a different [lineup] tomorrow," Cooper said. "We wasted too much time. We've got to get this thing turned around soon, because we can't continue to go on like we have been."

Not counting pitchers, Cooper has used 13 different batting orders in 17 games. This was the most significant overhaul yet, though all three players have ample experience in their new batting order spots.

Second baseman Kazuo Matsui rejoined the team on Friday night. With Matsui hitting second, it gives the Astros a pair of switch-hitters sandwiched around Tejada.

Cooper is hoping the trio of Michael Bourn, Matsui and Tejada in the top three spots will create more RBI opportunities for Berkman and Lee.

"This gives Lance a chance to have more than one or two guys on base," Cooper said. "I'm trying to do everything I can to get us jump-started. We haven't hit the way we can and I know we will. If it jump-starts us, good, and if it doesn't, we'll go to something else. But we've got to get something going."

The players understood the changes and are confident the offense has better days ahead.

"We know we're a better team than this," Lee said. "We'll get going."

Hunter Pence, who went 3-for-4 Friday night to raise his batting average to .200, has shown signs of breaking out, but Cooper wants to leave the right fielder lower in the order for now.

Pence opened the season batting second, but was later moved lower. He batted seventh against the Rockies on Saturday.

"I'm not moving him out of that spot," Cooper said. "It suits us best right now having him down there."

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.