Houston has designated reliever John Franco for assignment, recalling starter Ezequiel Astacio from Round Rock (PCL) for his second big league stint of the season. Astacio took the loss in Houston’s 11-6 defeat to Cincinnati tonight, the 2nd game of a twinbill, allowing HR’s to Felipe Lopez and Adam Dunn.

Astros manager Phil Garner was asked if he thought Franco could still pitch in the big leagues.

“Yes, I do,” he said. “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Unless there was some kind of all-night poker tournament at St. John’s that hasn’t turned up in the Astros or Mets media guides, I’m not aware of Franco having won any championships.

Asked on “Baseball Tonight” which member of the Royals he’d pick as KC’s token All-Star Game representative, Jeff Brantley nominated Kauffman Stadium’s groundskeeper, Trevor Vance.

I have no idea how much Valero Energy is paying Eugene Levy to run around with little leaguers, but the refinery is certainly getting their money’s worth.