LOS ANGELES -- Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer is eager to lace up his cleats again after missing a couple games because of a toe injury -- even if the cleats on his feet feel like what he called "bozo shoes."
After fouling a ball off his right big toe earlier in the week, the toe became infected and swollen, meaning Schafer needed a procedure to remove part of the nail.
The pain and swelling have died down, Schafer said before Saturday's game in Los Angeles, where he'll bat first for Houston. But he'll have to wear shoes that are a size larger than usual to accommodate some swelling and a substantial wrap on the toe.
"It doesn't feel real comfortable to run because it kind of feels like I have bozo shoes on," Schafer said. "But the bigger shoes give me more room just because my toe is so swollen."
Schafer, who is hitting .248 with 13 stolen bases, said he doesn't feel pain while running -- only while stopping. When he caught fly balls in the outfield, he didn't feel the injury tracking down balls or catching them. It only surfaced when he put the brakes on afterward.
That said, Schafer can't re-aggravate the toe by running or stopping, and that is the biggest key in his return Saturday -- a prospect that didn't seem so likely on Friday.
"If I foul a ball off my toe, obviously it's not going to feel very good, but it can't get any worse just by going out there and playing," Schafer said. "It feels good enough that I can go out there and run and do enough to be productive."
Schafer talked with manager Brad Mills after Friday's game, a 3-1 Astros victory, and said he thought he'd be healthy enough to play Saturday.
Mills responded by saying, "You're in there unless you drop a suitcase on it or kick the bed."
When Schafer showed up in the visitors clubhouse Saturday afternoon and gave Mills a thumbs-up, that was enough to assure Schafer's return to the lineup.