HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow visited the team's Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi last week, in part he says to look at some players the team is considering giving a look when rosters can expand to as many as 40 players on Sept. 1.
For the first time since 2008 -- a season that was derailed when the red-hot Astros were forced to move two September home games against the Cubs to Milwaukee's Miller Park because of Hurricane Ike -- Houston will be in playoff contention in the final month, which means the club will handle September callups differently than it has in the past.
"The numbers get pretty high pretty quickly, so we need to figure out if there needs to be a reason for each player to be on this team in September," Luhnow said. "The main reason for any player to be on this team is to help us get to the playoffs. We're taking all that into consideration."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he expects between six and eight players to be added to the roster. Teams generally call up an extra catcher, a player with speed who can be used as a pinch-runner, a pitcher or two, and perhaps a backup outfielder and infielder.
"That's pretty much standard across the board," Hinch said. "And you factor not wanting to overwhelm the room with too many guys when you're trying to keep focused on the game at hand."
A player, of course, has to be on the 40-man roster to be called up, and Luhnow, without naming anyone specifically, said there are some players who are currently not on the 40-man roster the club could consider in September.
That could include players like left-hander Joe Thatcher and outfielder Alex Presley, who both have been in Houston this year but aren't on the 40-man roster. Or perhaps the Astros could dip into their deep farm system and call up right-handed pitcher Mark Appel, who is the team's No. 2-ranked prospect, infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp (No. 12) or even Corpus Christi slugger A.J. Reed (No. 6), but the latter two are not on the 40-man roster.
Among those on Houston's 40-man roster who could return are pitchers Michael Feliz, Brett Oberholtzer, Vincent Velasquez, Dan Straily and Asher Wojciechowski, first baseman Jon Singleton, shortstop Jonathan Villar, catcher Max Stassi and outfielders Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes.
"When you're in the Minor Leagues, you're holding your breath, saying, 'I'm going to get called up,' especially if you've been here or if you're on the roster," Hinch said. "Other guys are hopeful there's an opportunity. It's just this anxious time from a player's perspective. As a player, either working their way up or having been there, Aug. 15-Sept. 1 is about as agonizing as it gets."