6/27/2014 8:18 P.M. ET
J.D. Martinez makes first return to Houston
By Mike Vernon / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Brad Ausmus isn't the only Tiger making a return to Houston on Friday.
J.D. Martinez was drafted by the Astros in 2009 and made his Major League debut with the Astros on July 30, 2011, to replace Hunter Pence, who had been traded to the Phillies.
"I'm just happy to see the guys," Martinez said. "A lot of these guys I grew up with. I started professional ball with them and we were all here together."
Martinez spent three seasons playing for the Astros and was let go before this season. He hit .251 with 24 homers and 126 RBIs for Houston, who struggled to win games throughout his time with the team.
He returns to Houston one game removed from a 14-game hitting streak, in which he hit .411 with six homers and 17 RBIs. He credits his recent hot streak and .310 season average to changes he made in the offseason to his swing.
"He kind of revamped his swing this offseason," Ausmus said. "He's got tremendous power."
Former Astro Ausmus returns to Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON -- The wall that was the recipient of Tigers manager and former Astro Brad Ausmus' most memorable moment of his career is green now.
With two outs left in game four of the 2005 National League Divisional Series, Ausmus hit a home run off the left-center wall to tie the game at 6-6. The ball just barely bounced over the fence and off the manila wall just left of the 404-foot mark to send Minute Maid Park into a frenzy.
Ausmus joked that he went out to the wall in early batting practice to show the Tigers where he hit it.
"Some of these guys on the team don't think I had power to hit it out there," Ausmus said.
When he was playing with the Dodgers, Ausmus returned to Houston to face the Astros, but this is his first time returning as a manager. He caught for the Astros in 1997-98 and again from 2001-08, including the playoff run in 2005 that ended with a trip to the World Series against the White Sox, who swept the Astros.
Astros former first baseman Jeff Bagwell called Ausmus early Friday afternoon to chat. Ausmus said the two are in frequent contact but hadn't seen each other since the summer.
While he's handling his typical managerial duties, this three-game series will still be a little bit different for Ausmus, as a myriad of old faces and friends will be stopping by to say hello.
"It brings back memories when you walk through the corridor," Ausmus said. "A lot of good memories and familiar places."
Porcello's shutout spurs All-Star talk for righty
HOUSTON - It's only natural that All-Star Game talk would arise for Rick Porcello in the 24 hours after his first career Major League complete game shutout.
Porcello gave up just three hits to the Rangers in the Tigers' 6-0 win Thursday night for their seventh-straight win. The shutout brought his ERA down to 3.41 for the season and improved his record to 10-4.
On Friday morning, Ausmus answered questions about Porcello's case for making the All-Star team.
"Absolutely," Ausmus said. "I don't want to jinx the guy, but it's certainly a legitimate discussion."
Ausmus went on to say that while Porcello is young at 25 years old, he's actually quite experienced, having pitched for the Tigers for six seasons, including multiple playoff games.
Porcello could join his teammate Miguel Cabrera, who has a stout lead in the voting at first base.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.