PITTSBURGH -- Monday marked the first day teams could sign players off the international market, and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he has the resources and is prepared to sign foreign players. Many of the top names were signed on Monday, but none were linked to the Astros.
"In some ways, it's a starting and finishing point," Luhnow said. "There's been a lot of scouting work that's led up to July 2, and that's the first day you can sign players. If you know who you want and you're pretty convinced you can sign them, that's a deal you do on July 2."
In accordance with the new Basic Agreement, the international system now operates with money pools and penalties for teams that exceed its pools.
For the 2012-13 signing period, every team will be able to spend $2.9 million without penalty. Starting in 2013-14, the pools will be based on each team's winning percentage in the prior season, with pools ranging from approximately $1.7 million to $4.8 million. "Next year, with the caps based on the standings, that's when things will be more interesting, and you'll see more unique strategies like we saw in the Draft this year." Luhnow said.
Lee mum on trade to Dodgers falling through
PITTSBURGH -- Astros first baseman Carlos Lee didn't have much to say to reporters on Monday in Pittsburgh, one day after a proposed trade to the Dodgers fell through. The Dodgers backed out while awaiting a decision on whether Lee would waive his limited no-trade clause.
Lee, who's in the final year of a six-year, $100 million deal, said Saturday he wanted to make a decision by the end of the weekend, but he left Chicago on Sunday saying he needed more time. The Dodgers pulled the plug on Sunday.
"When I'm ready to talk, I'll come to you," Lee politely told reporters at PNC Park prior to the game against the Pirates.
Astros manager Brad Mills, who had sit-down chats with Lee on Saturday and Sunday at Wrigley Field, doesn't think the situation will have a negative influence on Lee or the club, and there certainly didn't appear to be bad feelings as Lee joked with teammates on the field Monday.
"You try to smooth that out as much as you can," Mills said. "It comes down to he played by the rules and he exercised them. I don't know if there's awkwardness or not. I haven't sensed awkwardness in the clubhouse from any players or him. We'll see how that is moving forward, but I'm not expecting any problems at all."
Strength and conditioning coach going to ASG
PITTSBURGH -- With Astros bench coach Joe Pettini on manager Tony La Russa's National League staff for the All-Star Game and second baseman Jose Altuve having been picked as a reserve on Sunday, the Astros got another All-Star on Monday when strength and conditioning coach Gene Coleman committed to the game.
"I'm really happy for him and proud we'll get three representatives from our organization," Astros manager Brad Mills said.
Coleman, in his 34th year with the Astros, will serve as the strength and conditioning coach for both the NL and the American League for the Midsummer Classic on July 10 in Kansas City.
"They called me back when we were in Los Angeles three or four weeks ago and said they were considering having me doing it and wanted to know if I was going to be interested in doing it, and I said, 'Yes,'" Coleman said.
Coleman will leave for Kansas City on Sunday with his wife, Barbara, while their son, Jarrett, plans to meet his parents in Kansas City for the event.
"I've seen lots of players go, and it's nice to finally be able to go," he said. "I told Altuve he had to go so I could have somebody to stretch at the All-Star Game."
Johnson nursing strained muscle on left side
PITTSBURGH -- Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, who was scratched from the lineup Sunday in Chicago with a strained muscle on his left side, was instructed not to swing a bat Monday and is still a couple of days away from returning to the lineup.
"I woke up today and it felt better," he said. "They told me not to hit today, and hopefully, tomorrow I can come in and swing the bat. Right now, we're just day to day."
Astros manager Brad Mills won't put Johnson in the lineup until he's swinging the bat pain-free. Johnson is hitting .280 with six homers and 34 RBIs this year.
"We're just not going to stick him in the lineup," Mills said. "He was pretty sore [Sunday] after batting practice, and we were kind of concerned about it."
Scott Moore started at third Monday against Pittsburgh.
Outfielder Justin Maxwell, who's been on the disabled list since June 26 with loose bodies in his left ankle, has elected not to have surgery and will try to instead get healthy with treatment. After examining the MRIs, doctors believed surgery was going to be more invasive than had been previously thought, putting Maxwell's recovery time at two months. The Astros hope he returns after the All-Star break.