Schafer sits out opener; Maxwell starts in center

Schafer sits out opener; Maxwell starts in center

HOUSTON -- With the Astros facing a left-handed starter on Monday in Kansas City's Jonathan Sanchez, manager Brad Mills had Justin Maxwell in the lineup in center field instead of the left-handed hitting Jordan Schafer. Schafer is hitting .118 against southpaws this year.

Maxwell walked in the first inning and came around to score the Astros' second run when Sanchez's pickoff attempt at first went up the right-field line.

In the last 13 games, Maxwell has started seven games in center field and Schafer has started six, including all three games against the Rangers last weekend in Arlington. Schafer just recently got over an illness that cost him some playing time.

"It's been a tough last month really for him with the sickness and everything else," Mills said. "I know I was asked last week if it was a platoon thing, and I think that in the short-term it might be. Do I like platoon situations? No, I don't. Am I trying to make him a platoon player? No, I'm not.

"We have a long way to go yet in the season, and I think with the way things are working out, I think I'd like to give Maxwell some swings against lefties and keep working with Schafer and get him back in there and get him at-bats against lefties at times. Hopefully that can be the case here in the very short term."

Mills said he's explained the playing time to Schafer and told him not to panic. Mills said the Astros will face a lot of right-handers later in their current homestand, so Schafer should get plenty of starts upcoming.

"So it's not an issue," he said. "We'll get him one or two at-bats against a reliever or whatever in certain situations, getting him back in the flow of things instead of getting him two and three looks against a starter. I think that's probably the best thing. He's going to be OK. He skill set hasn't changed. We're still very excited about him. We love this guy."