HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills took time prior to Monday's game to meet with his starting pitchers, relief pitchers and position players in separate groups to, in part, remind them to not worry about any trade rumors that could percolate in the final week before the Trade Deadline.
The Astros already have made three deals in July to acquire young players in exchange for veterans, and the roster has been in constant flux.
"Guys are being sent down, guys are being called up and being traded," Mills said. "I have no control over that. They have no control over that, and that does not help us out in the field. I want to make sure our heads are in the right place when it comes to those things about making the plays, making the pitches, having quality at-bats and things of that nature."
Mills admitted the outside distractions have a tendency to affect a team's play.
"They've played hard, but you always have to play good, solid baseball," Mills said. "Sometimes when you play hard, good baseball, that gets overlooked. I want to make sure it's not overlooked. It wasn't overlooked on the last road trip, and I wanted to make sure they were doing the things needed to do to get better to improve."
Castro still working to return from knee injury
HOUSTON -- Astros catcher Jason Castro, who was eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, isn't quite ready to play in a game, though he hopes be available soon. He's been out since July 8 with right knee effusion.
Castro has been working out with a physical therapist in Houston, and manager Brad Mills said the catcher had his best day of rehab yet on Monday. Castro said he was set to meet with the Astros to map out his possible return.
"They're really happy with way it's responding," he said.
Castro remains unsure of a timetable and whether he'll have to get a few at-bats on a Minor League rehab assignment.
"I'm just happy with how it's responded so far and it definitely feels better than the first time I had it drained," he said. "I'm really happy about that. We look forward to going from here and hope it stays that way and there will be no problems the rest of the year."
Meanwhile, shortstop Jed Lowrie, who is expected to miss at least another month with a sprained right ankle and injury to his peroneal nerve, is still wearing a protective brace and using crutches to walk. He's also undergoing physical therapy.
"I've been doing some real simple stuff, trying to at least stay away from the knee and keep my hips moving and make sure nothing shuts down in that area," Lowrie said.
Cordero ready to face old teammates in new home
HOUSTON -- Monday marked the first home game for newly acquired closer Francisco Cordero, who made his Astros debut on Friday after being acquired by Houston from the Blue Jays in a 10-player trade on Thursday. Cordero got a chance Monday to catch up with several former teammates and manager Dusty Baker of the Reds, where he played for four years.
"It's going to be a little weird, but it's something that I'm ready for," Cordero said of facing his old team. "When they say my name in the bullpen, I'm going to have to be ready to come into the game and try to do my job."
The Astros are the sixth team for the 37-year-old Cordero, who saved 150 games in his four years with the Reds from 2008-11. He signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays prior to this season before getting traded back to the National League.
"[The Reds] have some new faces, but most of those guys were there when I was there," he said. "I can do my own scouting report and go with it and try to get them out because they have some good hitters. They're a good-hitting team and are dangerous. You have to be careful when you're facing those guys."