ARLINGTON -- Philip Humber's signing with the Astros was one of the team's feel-good stories of the offseason. Humber grew up in Texas and helped Rice University win the College World Series in 2003, so it was nothing short of a homecoming.
The signing didn't work out quite like Humber and the Astros would have hoped. He went 0-7 with an 8.82 ERA in his first seven starts and was eventually designated for assignment, appearing in 20 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Astros are unlikely to pick up Humber's $3 million option for 2014, which is a decision general manager Jeff Luhnow said would be made quickly after the season. There is a $50,000 buyout if he doesn't return.
Humber admits it's been a tough couple of years since he threw his perfect game, but he believes he can contribute at the Major League level.
"I've showed flashes of being as good as I've ever been," he said. "I'm not hurt. I still enjoy coming to the park and I'm still relatively young . It's one of those things that's like, 'Man, you walk away from it, are you going to look back and think I wish I could have kept going?' There's times in the past, I didn't know if it was going to work out. It's still fun. It beats working, you know?"
Humber has made eight relief appearances since he was called back up in the middle of August and has allowed 18 hits and 10 earned runs in 19 innings for a 4.74 ERA.
"The first part of the year was terrible for me, and then I felt going to Triple-A was probably the best thing that could have happened as far as getting back to what I can do on the mound and enjoying baseball," he said. "To be able to come back and get another opportunity was really nice. I've enjoyed my time with the Astros, but I know they've got a lot of decisions to make. We'll just have to wait and see what happens as far as that goes."
Injury to keep Grossman off field for rest of year
ARLINGTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow conceded Tuesday afternoon rookie outfielder Robbie Grossman won't be able to get on the field again this season. Grossman hasn't played since straining his oblique swinging the bat Sept. 3 against the Mariners.
"At this point, given the amount of time he's missed, I think it's not wise to rush him back and play him a couple of games," Luhnow said.
Grossman, acquired last July from the Pirates in the Wandy Rodriguez trade, was one of the team's biggest bright spots this season. He had two different stints with the Astros, hitting .322 with nine doubles, four homers, 18 RBIs and seven RBIs after being recalled from Triple-A on July 27.
"If you look at what Robbie did this summer, it was a big summer for him mentally and he's put himself in good position to not only be considered as part of our mix next year, but as a candidate to be a regular everyday outfielder and potentially a leadoff-type guy," Luhnow said.
"It was a good year for him. We had the advantage of being able to give him two extended periods of play. The first one didn't go quite as well as he or we wanted to, and the second one went very well. At the end of the year, it was a good season for him and us."
Astros manager Bo Porter became a big fan of Grossman during the spring and summoned him to Houston at the end of April when Justin Maxwell got hurt. He struggled at first, but Porter's faith didn't waver.
"I think it's a credit to him in taking the information from his first stint here down to the Minor Leagues and understanding exactly what [hitting coaches] John Mallee and Dan Radison and the coaches at Triple-A worked with him on," Porter said. "He came back here and proved he belongs here."
Crowe thinking about playing in winter ball
ARLINGTON -- Trevor Crowe has never played winter ball before, but the 29-year-old Astros outfielder is considering playing in Venezuela this offseason for about a month to try to get an extra 100 at-bats or so.
Crowe, who entered Tuesday hitting .232 in 155 at-bats with the Astros, has been making some adjustments with his swing and wants to keeping refining it.
"Just less movement with my lower body and keeping my head and hands in a good position to see the baseball and take a good swing," he said.
Crowe, a former first-round Draft pick, isn't sure where he'll fit in with the Astros next year. He's arbitration eligible and is out of options, so it wouldn't be surprising if he wasn't in Houston in 2014. He wouldn't hurt his cause by putting up some numbers this winter, too.
"Obviously, there are some things that come into play," Crowe said about next season. "The decision is more in their hands, you know?"
• Astros manager Bo Porter isn't big on team meetings, but he briefly addressed his players on Monday in Arlington during the team's season-high losing streak.
"I said to them on behalf of myself and the rest of the coaching staff and throughout the organization, we applaud their effort this year," he said. "Despite some very tough times, these guys have been resilient and never quit and given everything they had. We're not going to quit at this point. We're going to play this thing all the way to the end."