Altuve takes over third spot in lineup

Altuve takes over third spot in lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the National League with 15 multi-hit games and is tied for fifth with 40 hits, was moved to the third spot in the order on Friday, where he'll likely stay for the three-game series against the Pirates.

Altuve has batted primarily second this year, though he's also hit first, sixth and eighth. J.D. Martinez has been the Astros' primary No. 3 hitter this year, but manager Brad Mills is giving him a few days off in the midst of a 0-for-21 slump.

"I was going over some stuff on the plane last night and was kind of looking at some things and looking at this ballpark and so forth," Mills said. "There were a lot of things I liked about [batting Altuve third]. I'll keep those to myself, but there were a lot of things I liked about it."

As for Martinez, expect him to return to the lineup this weekend. Mills wouldn't commit to when he would write Martinez's name in the lineup card, but Friday marked the third consecutive game he didn't start. Justin Maxwell started in left field.

"[Martinez] came out for early hitting," Mills said. "He came out and looked really good swinging the bat. I'm just giving him a chance to clear his head a little bit. I think he's getting to where he needs to be."