HOU@OAK: Carter's sac fly capitalizes on loaded bases

SEATTLE -- Struggling designated hitter Chris Carter was given a day off Monday against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who's especially tough on right-handers. Carter is scuffling mightily to begin the season, hitting .123 with no homers and two RBIs.

Carter hit a team-high 29 homers a year ago and drove in 82 runs.

"When you look at the power potential, you know that at some point he's going to break out and you're going to see the power and he's going to be able to change the game in one swing," manager Bo Porter said. "It just made sense to get Marwin [Gonzalez] another start and give [Carter] a breather, and he'll be back in there [Tuesday]."

Gonzalez made his second consecutive start at shortstop, with Matt Dominguez starting at designated hitter. Porter wanted Gonzalez's bat in the lineup, but didn't want to put him at DH because his versatility could be needed in the field at some point.

As for Carter, he's trying to stay positive.

"I've been working hard in the cage and on the field, and hopefully it starts working for me," he said.

Carter knows that as the DH, he's expected to produce.

"We've been in a lot of close games and I'm not getting hits in those situations, and I'm not doing really much to help the team," he said. "I'm in a pretty important part of the lineup and have been DH'ing, so hitting is pretty much the only thing I'm doing and I'm not doing that well, so it's kind of tough."

Springer catches up with offseason roommate Miller

HOU@OAK: Springer dives to make a phenomenal catch

SEATTLE -- While most Major League players are just learning about rookie right fielder George Springer, Mariners shortstop Brad Miller has a pretty good feel for the Astros' prize prospect.

Springer spent a month living with Miller at his family home in Orlando, Fla., this offseason and they renewed their friendship when the the two teams met Monday to start a three-game series at Safeco Field.

Springer, a first-round pick of the Astros out of the University of Connecticut in 2011, played on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2010 with Miller, who was a sophomore at Clemson at the time.

The two became buddies and Springer contacted Miller over the winter about working out together in Florida.

"His sister plays softball at [the University of Central Florida], so he texted me and said, 'Hey, I'm going crazy in Connecticut with all this snow," Miller said. "'Do you want to get a place together for a couple months?' I said, 'Dude, I'm living at home. Come down.' My parents said it was fine. They love George. It just kind of worked out."

Springer was already headed to Florida for the Astros' Spring Training, so he just arrived early and hung out at the Miller's.

"Yeah, it was me, my parents and George," Miller said. "It was like my brother, with my parents just taking care of us. It was fun to have somebody to train with and hit with and do all that stuff. It worked out good."

Said Springer, "His dad and mom are outstanding in that they took me in and I hung out with Brad and his parents every day from late December until Spring Training started. I was extremely fortunate for them to open up their home to me like that. It's always great to hang out with Brad. He is a grade A guy and we had some fun together."

But Miller professed to not having any dirt on the Mariners' new rookie rival, who already has been inserted into the Astros' cleanup role.

"No, he's pretty low maintenance," Miller said. "We got along great. We both pretty much just work out, hit, hang out. Just kind of low-key. He's a great guy and obviously he's pretty talented. To see him get called up already was pretty special. It's been fun.

"I texted him when he got his debut and got his first hit and everything. We've just been talking throughout the spring and stuff. He's definitely a close friend and we get along well. It's kind of fun to see him up here. He's another one of the Team USA guys from that group that got the call, so it's pretty sweet."