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Maysonet ready to perform when called

Maysonet ready to perform when called

HOUSTON -- Friday was the ninth consecutive game that Edwin Maysonet didn't see his name in the starting lineup for the Astros. But despite the lack of action on the field, the 27-year-old infielder is still finding ways to contribute to the club.

Maysonet has seen is role diminish with the return of everyday second baseman Kazuo Matsui, and he will likely be on the bench again Saturday in Game 2 of Astros' series against the Tigers, supporting teammate Felipe Paulino, who makes his first start since being hampered by a strained right groin.

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When first called up called up from Triple-A Round Rock on May 22, Maysonet was told he would be used mostly as a bench player and defensive specialist. After Matsui strained his left hamstring, Maysonet found himself in the Astros' lineup consistently.

But with Matsui's return, Maysonet's role changed once again. His attitude, however, hasn't.

"I'm just trying to stay sharp for whenever they call on me, and I'll try to perform as best as I can when they do," Maysonet said. "It's hard to stay sharp, especially when you haven't seen live pitching in a week. You have to go in the cage to hit extra and get out on the field and take more ground balls. If you don't, you lose your shape. You have to try and stay on top of your game."

Maysonet has been on top of his game when he's played this year, hitting .315 in 54 at-bats. He's also helped Houston's pitchers, catching bullpen sessions and becoming the team's emergency third catcher.

"Last year in Triple-A, I started catching bullpens, and here they told me if I wanted to do it I could," he said. "I guess I'm doing OK, because they told me I'm the backup catcher. It's something I want to learn. The more positions I can play, the more I can help the team win."

In a 17-game stretch, starting when he made his debut as a pinch-hitter on May 22, Maysonet played in 15 games, starting 12. He hit .341 with a .396 on-base percentage and a .455 slugging percentage.

The last time Maysonet took the field for the Astros was June 16, the same day Matsui was activated from the 15-day disabled list after missing 18 games because of the hamstrong. Since then, Maysonet has had one pinch-hit appearance, laying down a sacrifice bunt on Wednesday against the Royals.

"He's done exactly what we've needed him to do," manager Cecil Cooper said. "He hasn't not played well. It's just that the role has been diminished, because guys have become healthy, the guys that were supposed to be out there playing are playing, and that makes his role more of a utility role."

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Felipe Paulino (1-4, 6.18 ERA)
Paulino will make his first start since June 11 after being on the 15-day disabled list. He was forced to leave his last start against the Pirates in the middle of the second inning, having thrown just 34 pitches, after straining his right groin. Paulino has never faced the Tigers. The only Interleague start of his career came earlier this season against the Rangers, where he gave up four runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, receiving a no-decision.

DET: RHP Alfredo Figaro (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
Figaro, the latest rookie to crack Detroit's rotation, gave up eight hits over five innings in his Major League debut last Saturday against Milwaukee, but he also showed the pitches that elevated him up the Tigers' prospect list before he got the call. Armed with four potential big league pitches, Figaro struck out seven hitters, the first Tigers pitcher to do that in his big league debut since Dave Borkowski fanned eight in 1999, and his fastball topped out at 97 mph on the Comerica Park radar gun. Just as important, the 24-year-old showed an impressive ability to stay relaxed in tight situations.

Tidbits
Geoff Blum played his second game of his rehab assignment for Triple-A Round Rock at Oklahoma City on Friday. Blum started at third base and was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a strained left hamstring and is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-H HD

On radio
• KTRH 740, KLAT 1010 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Astros (Russ Ortiz, 3-3, 3.47) vs. Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 6-4, 2.40), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Astros (Roy Oswalt, 3-4, 4.30) at Padres (Josh Geer, 1-2, 5.86), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Tuesday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 4-4, 6.05) at Padres (TBD), 9:05 p.m. CT

Jason Grodsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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