SEATTLE -- The Astros joined the rest of Major League Baseball in wearing commemorative American flags on their caps Wednesday, which was the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Astros manager Bo Porter, who grew up in New Jersey, has vivid memories of the day. He was in San Francisco while playing with the Rangers, and he could not believe what he was seeing on television as the magnitude of the news unfolded.
"We were all in complete panic, almost in shock, like, 'No, this is not happening,'" Porter said. "As the news started to get reported more and more, you really couldn't believe it. I had several people, whether family or close friends of mine, that worked in New York, and you were just concerned about people's well-being.
"Baseball has done a great job in general of paying tribute to the 9/11 date, and it's something that obviously will never be forgotten. It's very good that when this time of year comes around we can pause and pay our respects."
Porter said the Rangers took a bus from San Francisco to Arlington in the days following the terrorist attacks while airline travel was suspended.
"We knew we weren't going to play baseball," he said. "Are we going to fly? Are we going to drive? We didn't know what to do. The whole way back, we're still in shock. I know some people that lost some people on 9/11. You're remorseful for them and keep people in your prayers. So many people at that point had not been discovered, and you're waiting for the next breaking news of someone else [being found]. It was a trying time, very emotional, and obviously something we'll never forget."
Elmore is first Astro to play all nine positions
SEATTLE -- Call him the Jake of all Trades.
Astros infielder/outfielder/pitcher/catcher Jake Elmore became the first player in franchise history to play all nine positions in a season Tuesday when he saw time in center field in the ninth inning. The last Major Leaguers to play all nine positions in one season were Scott Sheldon and Shane Halter in 2000 -- who each accomplished the feat in one game.
Elmore is an infielder by trade who had seen time at the corner outfield positions this year. When he became the 14th player in history to catch and pitch in the same game, Aug. 19 at Texas, all that remained was center field.
"I knew I had eight," Elmore said. "Somebody brought it to my attention a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be cool to get out there. The coaches caught wind of it, and we got the lead and they were like, 'Go make your debut in center.' It was really cool."
Astros manager Bo Porter said bench coach Eduardo Perez was the one who brought it to his attention that Elmore had yet to play center.
"Elmore goes out there to shag every day," Porter said. "He is a guy that can technically play all nine positions, and it was good for him to do that."
But Elmore has no illusions about becoming only the fifth player to play all nine positions in the same game.
"Obviously, that's something that puts you in a rare company," he said. "This is the Major Leagues. This isn't a stunt show. I certainly wouldn't expect or ask for it. It's not going to happen, let's put it that way."
Clark has Astros' support in pursuit of first hit
SEATTLE -- Nothing is bringing the Astros closer in the dugout these days than when backup catcher Cody Clark comes to the plate. Clark went 0-for-5 on Tuesday and was 0-for-24 in his Major League career entering Wednesday, but he has plenty of teammates pulling for him.
The club record for most at-bats without a hit was set by pitcher Bo McLaughlin, who was 0-for-32 from 1976-79 with the Astros. Shortstop Jason Smith holds the club record for position players, going 0-for-25 during the 2009 season.
Clark's teammates were on the top step of the dugout for his final at-bat Tuesday, and he has been getting text messages from former and current Major Leaguers wishing him good luck. Former Astros catcher Eddie Taubensee was among those who reached out to him.
"I have a lot of good teammates pulling for me, and everyone is hoping I get that first hit," said Clark, a 31-year-old rookie who was called up last month after 11 years in the Minor Leagues. "I came close, and in the past few games I have been pressing a little bit. I don't really know. I think when I get the first one, I will settle down."
During Tuesday's game, a line of Astros players sat together on the dugout steps with their backs to the field in an effort to change Clark's fortunes.
"Everybody has been pulling together," All-Star catcher Jason Castro said. "We've done some curse-breaking things. We're definitely behind him, pulling for him, and it would be nice getting that first one out of the way, because it will be a huge relief. We're all pulling for him."
Backup catcher Carlos Corporan got a hit in his first Major League at-bat with Milwaukee in 2009 -- a single off Cincinnati's Paul Janish, a shortstop who was pitching. Corporan did not get another Major League at-bat until he joined the Astros two years later.
"We're going to see it before the year is over, because he's been working so hard to get to the big leagues and working even harder to get his first hit," Corporan said.
Castro taking things slow with right knee
SEATTLE -- All-Star catcher Jason Castro was held out of any baseball-related drills once again Wednesday as he gives his ailing right knee more time to heal. Castro said he most likely came back too soon after having a cyst drained in his knee last week.
Castro, who aggravated a cyst Sept. 1, has not caught since, though he did start at designated hitter Friday and Saturday in Oakland. Wednesday marked his fourth consecutive game out of the lineup.
"We're going to give it four to five days to completely let it rest and calm down, and we're going to start introducing things and re-evaluating it at that point," said Castro, who is hitting .276 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs.
Castro said he would not categorize what he was going through as a setback.
"I felt OK the first day [Friday], and then it was kind of a little bit sore the second day [Saturday]," he said. "I don't think it was ready to get back into it as soon as we started. We just kind of backed off and let it completely calm down, and we'll get back at it instead of trying to push it."
Meanwhile, starting left fielder Robbie Grossman missed his eighth consecutive game Wednesday because of a strained right oblique. Grossman has yet to even start swinging a bat, so he is not expected to return any time soon.
Bedard aims to impress suitors in rotation return
SEATTLE -- Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard will rejoin the Astros' rotation when he starts Monday's series opener against the Reds at Minute Maid Park.
Bedard's last four appearances have come in relief after being in the rotation for most of the year. Bedard is 4-10 with a 4.47 ERA in 29 games, including 3-9 with a 4.65 ERA in 23 starts. He has not started since Aug. 21 at Texas.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "Just to get back in the rotation and do what I've done the last 10 years is fun. Hopefully it ends up on a high note."
The Astros have been implementing a six-man rotation for more than a month, but they shut down rookie Jarred Cosart following his start Monday and will plug Bedard into his spot.
The move is significant for Bedard because he is set to receive a $250,000 incentive bonus with his next start. He will have three starts remaining, falling one start short of another $250,000 bonus. At 34 years old, Bedard hopes to put himself in position to play once again next year.
"It's going to be another free agent year, and you just do the best you can and try to have some eyes on you, and hopefully somebody wants you on their team," he said. "My arm feels good, and physically I feel really good. So as long as you're doing good physically and you can still put some decent numbers up there, you have a chance to get another job."
• Castro and his wife, Maris, will be visiting Joe Moreno Elementary in Houston on Thursday afternoon to deliver books as part of their Castro's Kids literary initiative. The Castros have donated more than 17,000 books to the Houston Independent School District this year. Selected students from the school will receive Astros memorabilia and an all-expenses paid trip to Minute Maid Park to see an Astros game.