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Astros Crawfish Boil: July 8, 2015

All of the news you need in one place - for your Houston Astros, and from around Major League Baseball for Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

After throwing six strong innings Tuesday night, Vincent Velasquez was optioned to Double A Corpus Christi.
After throwing six strong innings Tuesday night, Vincent Velasquez was optioned to Double A Corpus Christi.
Jon Durr/Getty Images

Houston Astros News

Velasquez strong again before being demoted to limit innings - Ultimate Astros
"I feel like I settled in just fine," Velasquez said of his six starts in the majors. "Throwing six innings — I couldn’t even get over five (in my first three outings). Now I’m going over five, six. I felt like I could probably go seven today. … I am feeling comfortable."

Boras says Astros’ handling of Velasquez, McCullers welcome but for one thing - Ultimate Astros
"Super Agent" Scott Boras weighs in with his thoughts about the Astros' of young pitching stars Lance McCullers, Jr. and Vincent Velasquez.

Astros, 11th-Round Pick Sandoval Agree To 0K Bonus - MLB Trade Rumors
In Sandoval, the Astros are acquiring a player who ranked as the 135th prospect in this year’s draft, per Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.

Lowrie progressing, but return date not set |
Lowrie began taking batting practice in the hitting cage on flips while the team was in Boston last weekend, and he's been fielding grounders on the infield for about a week. The next step will be taking full-fledged batting practice from a coach, manager A.J. Hinch said. "Hopefully that's sooner than later," Hinch said. "It's really a slow process to get hand strength back."

Jose Altuve tries to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a batting helmet |
Don't miss this humorous moment from yesterday's game!

Before Jose Altuve went up to bat in the first inning of Tuesday's Indians-Astros game, he glanced up at his helmet, took it off his head and attempted to answer one of humanity's age-old questions: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a batting helmet?

Around The Major Leagues

MLB midseason review: The five biggest surprises of 2015 so far | Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports
From Yahoo Sports: The Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees lead our list of MLB surprises in the first half.

Albert Pujols says he will take part in All-Star Home Run Derby | FOX Sports
He said he is looking forward to the new format. Instead of being given a number of outs per round each player will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The clock will stop after home run balls land in the final minute. Players can earn an extra minute if they hit two home runs that land 420 feet or more and a bonus 30 seconds if one of those blast lands 475 feet or more. The maximum bonus time a player can get is 1:30. "If anything, it'll be better because you don't have to sit around so much like you did in the past," he said. "If I hit in the first round, we had to wait until everybody hit and sometimes you sat an hour and a half, two hours."

Cueto, Votto outdo Scherzer as Reds beat Nationals 5-0 | FOX Sports
''I would love to pitch in the All-Star Game. I want to do it,'' Cueto said through an interpreter. ''It's an All-Star Game in Cincinnati, with my fans in my house with my team.''

Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis happy with All-Star nod, but not selection process | FOX Sports
Does Kipnis feel the league should consider making changes to the current All-Star selection process? "I hope they do," Kipnis said via CBS Cleveland.

Pujols, Trout homers lead Angels past Rockies, 10-2. | FOX Sports
''A 10-run lead by the third inning is definitely is a little cushion,'' Heaney said. ''That makes it a lot easier.'' You don't say, Andrew.

Will Padres GM A.J. Preller be using his sell phone? | FOX Sports
Some in the industry believe Preller will be reluctant to trade stars like Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel, for fear of embarrassment after raising expectations with a flurry of offseason moves. But Preller's aggressive nature, which drove the team's frenetic winter, hasn't disappeared in a matter of months.

Jonathan Papelbon reiterates desire to be traded from Phillies | Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports
"The front office knows where my heart is and where my mind is," Papelbon said. "And that’s to be with a contending ball club. The ball is in their court, so to speak." "I think everybody knows where I’m at. I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands."