ST. LOUIS -- Houston first baseman Brett Wallace is doing a lot of scoreboard watching these days.No, Wallace isn't gazing intently at the National League Central and Wild Card chases. Instead, the Sonoma, Calif., resident has been keeping a watchful eye on the Petaluma, Calif., squad that has won three of its first four games at the Little League World Series this week in Williamsport, Pa. The 25-year-old grew up in Northern California and resides about 15 minutes from Petaluma. Wallace, along with Houston pitcher Bud Norris, have become huge fans of the team. Norris was born in Novato, just outside of Petaluma. "We've been watching as much as we can," Wallace said. "A couple of their games, we've been playing or traveling, but we always find out what they're doing and watch the highlights." Wallace gets a kick out of the aggressive play of the Petaluma team. He is well aware of the Little League tradition in and around his home town. "Baseball is serious business there," he said. "A lot of the better teams, Little League and others, are from Northern California." Wallace is anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the tournament this weekend. Although the Astros will be in New York facing the Mets, Wallace's heart will be in Williamsport. "It's just fun seeing kids from back home getting an opportunity to play there and playing well," he said. Wallace competed in Little League, but never got the chance to advance to the World Series. "We went to the tournament every year, but never advanced past the second round of the local round," he said. "But it brings back memories. Just watching and seeing the passion they are playing with, it kind of takes you back a little bit."
Galarraga designated for assignment
ST. LOUIS -- The Astros designated starting pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment on Wednesday and brought up reliever Hector Ambriz to take his place on the roster.Ambriz was signed as a Minor League free agent on June 21. He is 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 18 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco plans to use Ambriz in a seventh- or eighth-inning setup role. DeFrancesco managed Ambriz at Oklahoma City. "He's a good addition to our bullpen," DeFrancesco said. "He's a power arm, 92 to 95 [mph], with a nice breaking ball." Ambriz made 34 appearances with the Cleveland Indians in 2010, going 0-2 with 5.59 ERA. "I liked the way he competed," DeFrancesco said. "He shows the velocity we are looking for at this level." Galarraga was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts. The departure of Galarraga, who was set to start on Saturday in New York, opens up a spot in the starting rotation. DeFrancesco said a decision will be made in the next couple of days.
Maxwell scratched with bruised finger
ST. LOUIS -- Houston outfielder Justin Maxwell was scratched from the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Cardinals with a bruised right index finger."It's kind of day to day right now," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He might need a couple days off. But once we get him back, we'll have a nice outfield." Maxwell is hitting .236 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs. His 12 home runs are the most among players on the active roster. He has started 53 games this season, including 29 in center field. Infielder Tyler Greene was given the day off after starting eight of 10 games since he was acquired in a trade with St. Louis on Aug. 9. Greene is hitting .324 with the Astros. DeFrancesco, who took over for Brad Mills on Sunday, has been impressed with Greene the last few days. "Tyler is a gamer," he said. "I like the way he plays the game. I like his intensity, I like his work ethic. He got his feet wet here in front of the home crowd, so we gave him a day off. He'll probably be back in there tomorrow."
Astros await Clemens' independent league debut
ST. LOUIS -- Houston pitcher Jordan Lyles is among those eagerly awaiting the pitching appearance of 50-year-old Roger Clemens, who will start on Saturday for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent team in the Atlantic League.Clemens worked out for a member of the Houston organization last week. "I've gotten a chance to meet Roger, and he's a very competitive guy," Lyles said. "Everyone is excited for him. I know he's excited about it. It should be a good time for him and his family." Clemens will face the Bridgeport Bluefish. It will mark his first competitive game action since the 2007 American League Championship Series. Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco says he does not believe Clemens is auditioning for a return to the Majors. The Houston organization will reportedly have a representative at Saturday's game. "When you're a competitor, you just want to keep on going and keep on throwing," DeFrancesco said. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow agreed, "I think he just wants to see what it feels like to get back out there on the mound."
Steve Overbey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.