Coste relishing opportunity with Astros

Coste relishing Astros opportunity

HOUSTON -- The addition of Chris Coste to the roster makes the Astros the first team in Major League history to have two native North Dakotans playing for the same team. The Astros hope he can provide more than just a historical footnote.

Coste, 36, joined the Astros and was in uniform for Saturday's game against the Nationals after being claimed off waivers Friday. Despite having to part ways with the organization that gave him his first shot in the Majors and with which he won a World Series ring last year, Coste was happy to be Houston.

"It's been kind of an emotional couple of days," he said. "I had a lot of great years in Philadelphia. It's my first time not having to put on red spikes, and it's a weird feeling. I'm excited to be here.

"When [Astros general manager] Ed Wade called me, I told him about a month ago some of us guys in the clubhouse in Philly were talking that if you weren't in Philly where would you want to be, and Houston was one of my top three. I'm excited to be here and stay in the big leagues."

And why was Houston so high on his list?

"I've always hit pretty decent here (7-for-14 at Minute Maid Park), and the weather inside is fantastic," he said. "Some of my best friends in baseball are Texans, and they're jealous I'm playing in Houston and they aren't. But there a lot of different reasons."

Coste and Wade had a relationship from their days with the Phillies, and Houston manager Cecil Cooper managed Coste at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2004. Also, outfielder Darin Erstad is a close friend and former workout partner. Erstad is from Jamestown, N.D., about 90 miles from Coste's home town of Fargo.

"We've joked about that already," Coste said.

Most of Coste's playing time in the Majors has come behind the plate, but the Astros are set at catcher with Ivan Rodriguez and Humberto Quintero. Wade and Cooper have spoken repeatedly about Coste's value of being able to provide right-handed power off the bench. He had 21 homers in 601 career Major League at-bats entering the season.

"As of right now, I'll probably come off the bench and hit," Coste said. "As we all know, it's a long season and things change. Catching is by far my best position. Catching is not necessarily needed because, as you know, they have two pretty good catchers, so as my role changes I can play first and third, but I haven't done much of that in the last four or five years. Whatever keeps me around and keeps me here, I'm willing to do."

Coste spent 11 years in the Minors, including five seasons in independent ball, before making his Major League debut in 2006 with the Phillies. He went 4-for-4 in a game last year he didn't start, delivering a game-winning single in the 13th, and he made one start in the World Series last year.

After helping the Phillies reach the Fall Classic, Coste added a chapter to his autobiography, "The 33-year-old Rookie." Now, Coste hopes to write another chapter with the Astros.

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Brian Moehler (5-5, 5.52 ERA)
Moehler turned in another quality outing last time out, against the Pirates, but lost for the first time in his past five outings. The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday, allowing four runs on three hits and striking out four. After giving up a two-run home run in the third inning, he promptly sat down the next 10 Pirates batters in order. He has faced Washington once this season, receiving a no-decision after allowing two runs on eight hits and striking out five in five innings. He is 2-4 with a 5.68 ERA in 13 career games against the Nationals, including eight starts.

WSH: RHP Jordan Zimmerman (3-3, 34.52 ERA)
Zimmermann's run of five good-to-great starts came to an end in his previous outing, against the Rockies on Tuesday. The rookie had compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.12 ERA during that span but gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits with four walks in four innings against Colorado. Zimmermann showed a lack of command and couldn't locate his pitches. He has never faced the Astros.

Right-hander Alberto Arias has a club-best 18-inning scoreless streak over his past 14 appearances. ... First baseman Lance Berkman is hitting .411 (23-for-56) with four homers and 17 RBIs in his past 16 games. ... Center fielder Michael Bourn stole a career-high three bases Saturday, extending his National League lead to 32 steals. His career high for a season is 41, set last year.

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Up next
• Monday-Wednesday, All-Star break

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.