HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez felt good just being back at Minute Maid Park. Houston played the White Sox in an exhibition game Tuesday night, falling 5-1. "The smell of the stadium, the lights," Martinez said after spending the last six weeks of Spring Training in Florida. "It's just that Florida gets kind of repetitious. Today, you felt the movement almost like the regular season. Once the game started, it felt like Spring Training again." Astros starter Bud Norris pitched three innings, surrendering five hits and two runs, with four strikeouts and one walk.
"That second inning got away from him a little bit," manager Brad Mills said. "He got behind. The first and third innings he pitched well." Houston's bullpen didn't pitch nearly as well. Rhiner Cruz, David Carpenter, Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers each threw one inning, giving up two hits. Carpenter allowed two solo home runs and Myers one run. "Their velocities were fine," Mills said. "There were a couple of things we talked to them about. Probably locating pitches from pitch one. We saw some pretty good swings right away. After those first swings, I thought they pitched pretty well." After the game, the Astros announced they had sent down outfielder J.B. Shuck to Triple-A Oklahoma City. That reduced the Houston roster to 27 with two more players to go before Friday's opener at home against the Rockies. "Shuck did such a good job for us last year when we brought him up, we'll see him fairly quickly," Mills said. Center fielder Jordan Schafer started for the first time in two weeks after injuring his left hand diving for a ball. He went 1-for-3, reaching on an infield single. "It went well," Schafer said. "I took a couple of swings pretty hard and it felt fine. I got jammed on a pitch and it felt fine. I need those at-bats to feel comfortable. My timing was a little bit off. That's to be expected if you miss two weeks." Up next for Astros: The White Sox and Astros return to Minute Maid Park on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. CT, live on Gameday Audio, to complete their two-game exhibition series. Philip Humber will start for Chicago opposite Houston's J.A. Happ.
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.