Johnson gets first start at third base

Johnson gets first start at third base

HOUSTON -- Facing a left-hander for the first time this season, the Astros had Chris Johnson starting at third base and Jeff Keppinger at second base for the first time this season against Barry Zito and the Giants on Tuesday.

Johnson, who led the Majors with eight home runs in Spring Training, batted sixth in manager Brad Mills' lineup. Pedro Feliz started at first base for the first time since 2007, with Geoff Blum out of the lineup after starting at first on Opening Day.

"I'm sure I will [have butterflies] once the game starts and we run out there, but I'm sure when the first pitch goes it's just another game," said Johnson, who started five games last year at third base in his Major League debut.

Johnson figures to be busy with Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, a ground-ball pitcher, on the mound and facing a predominantly right-handed Giants lineup.

"I think so, especially with his curveball," Johnson said. "He tends to get some guys to roll over the ball, so that's why I'm out there. Hopefully I get some ground balls."

Mills was eager for Johnson to get a chance to get some at-bats after his hot spring.

"Chris had such a good Spring Training that we want to try to get him in there," he said. "That's the biggest thing, whether he's right- or left-handed -- yeah, a little bit because he's right-handed -- but at the same time we're going to try to catch onto something while he's still hot."