Justin Maxwell, claimed off waivers Sunday from the Yankees, hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in his first Astros at-bat in the eighth inning of Monday's 8-3 win over the Braves, becoming the first Astro to homer in his first at-bat with the club since reliever Gustavo Chacin in 2010.
"All the guys have been very welcoming, and now the hardest part has been learning everybody's name," Maxwell said. "It definitely eases things and makes me feel more a part of the team already."
Maxwell, 28, spent his entire 2011 season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees system, hitting .260 with 16 home runs and 35 RBIs. He appeared in 27 games for the Yankees this spring, hitting .310 with 11 RBIs before being designated for assignment on Wednesday.
"It was a good Easter Sunday," he said. "I was waiting for an opportunity and now I'm in Houston and I'm excited. I played in the National League so you have to be ready at all times, ready for the double switch and anything can happen. It's a young team here. I've been reading about it and I'm excited to be a part of it."
The only previous Major League experience for Maxwell was with the Nationals, for which he appeared in 122 games (2007, '09-10). He's played all three outfield positions in his career, including 57 games in center field.
"You put all the work in Spring Training and you go home for a few days," Maxwell said of being designed for assignment. "I got see my daughter for her second birthday and I missed it last year, so that was fun. My father-in-law and brother had a surprise birthday, so I got to do fun stuff. But at the same time, I wish I was on a team for Opening Day, but my Opening Day [was] tonight."
To make room for Maxwell, the Astros optioned pitcher Fernando Abad to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He made the club's Opening Day roster after posting a 2.08 ERA in nine appearances this spring. In 53 Major League relief appearances in his career, all with Houston (2010-12), Abad is 1-5 with a 5.18 ERA.