HOUSTON -- The up-and-down career of infielder Brett Wallace has him headed back to the Minor Leagues. The Astros optioned Wallace to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday after he got off to a 1-for-24 start at the plate with 17 strikeouts.
The club purchased the contract of infielder Brandon Laird, who had a terrific spring and was off to a strong start at Oklahoma City. Laird will be in uniform for Friday's game against the Indians at Minute Maid Park. To make room for Laird on the 40-man roster, the team designed left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno for assignment.
Wallace, the former first-round Draft pick who started for the club on Opening Day, was in an 0-for-22 slump. He was drafted by the Cardinals when current Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow was the vice president of scouting and player development for St. Louis.
"I think the message is he needs to get regular at-bats, and right now he's not getting them at the big league level," Luhnow said. "He needs [to get] a steady diet of at-bats at Triple-A and find the swing and approach the way it was [in Spring Training]. This is not the Brett Wallace we've gotten to know and developed. It's in there, and he needs to get back to that. We'd rather him work that out at Triple-A."
The Astros now have a spot open on the 25-man roster, and Luhnow said the club would be adding another pitcher in the "next couple of days."
Laird competed until the end of Spring Training for an Opening Day roster spot, but ultimately fell short, despite batting .328 with five home runs in 64 at-bats. In 12 contests with the RedHawks, he batted .353 with two home runs and a team-leading 14 RBIs. The 25-year-old is a career .232 hitter in 28 games with the Yankees and Astros.
"He deserved to make the club right out of spring, and unfortunately we had a lot of guys that deserved to make the club," Luhnow said. "Instead of sulking about it, he went down and continued to do what he did all spring, which is hit. He'll give us good at-bats, and that's really what we're looking for."
Cedeno struggled all season, allowing 11 runs (eight earned), 10 hits and seven walks in five appearances, spanning 6 1/3 innings.
"We want to keep him in the organization," Luhnow said. "We're going to review all of our options at this point."
Meanwhile, outfielder Fernando Martinez, who's been on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, was scheduled to play in at least one game of Triple-A Oklahoma City's doubleheader Thursday and could be activated soon.
"We'll wait and see how he develops," Luhnow said. "No decisions have been made."
Left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley, who went on the DL with a left shoulder strain shortly after he was acquired from Oakland, was scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment Thursday for Oklahoma City.