HOUSTON -- Had a few things gone differently, Indians manager Manny Acta could have been sitting in the home dugout at Minute Maid Park when the Indians opened their three-game series against the Astros on Friday.
"It will always be special for me to come here," said Acta. "I grew up rooting for the Astros and had the pleasure to sign a professional contract to play for them. Everything I have and I am, I owe it to them.
"They were the one who gave me the opportunity, not only to play professional baseball, but to make me a coach and to allow me to manage in the Minor Leagues. So, nothing would have been possible unless they took a chance on me."
Acta was signed by the Astros at age 17 as a first baseman. He reached Double-A as a first baseman/outfielder and played five seasons of professional baseball, all in the Houston organization. He also began his coaching career in the Astros' organization.
"So it will always be special for me to come over here," Acta said. "I grew up idolizing Cesar Cedeno and Joaquin Andujar and Luis Pujols and Dickie Thon -- [Rafael] Landestoy and some of those guys that were here.
"I'm a very colorful guy, too, so I love the rainbow uniforms. I wore it when I signed, too."
As part of Flashback Fridays, the Astros wore their rainbow uniforms on Friday.
Acta said he has the first uniform pants he ever wore in rookie ball back in 1987.
"A couple of years ago, one of their Minor League clubhouse managers found them in storage and gave them to me," Acta said. "So there's a lot of ties."
Santana working to improve at the plate
HOUSTON -- Carlos Santana continues to struggle at the plate from the cleanup position, but it hasn't gotten the Indians' catcher down.
"I don't stop working," Santana said prior to Friday's game against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. "I work every day."
Santana was hitting .192 for June entering Friday, and had not homered in 14 games this month.
The Indians have indicated to Santana that they'd like to see him more "quiet" with the bat and his stance at the plate. It's a suggestion Santana is taking to heart.
"Sometimes you need to change your approach," he said. "Right now I've got too much movement, but I'm working on it."
Santana said that the pressure of hitting in the cleanup spot isn't the problem.
"I don't feel any pressure," he said. "I hit fourth in the lineup last year. I'm feeling good and I'm trying to keep working every day."
Damon happy for former teammate Clemens
HOUSTON -- Indians outfielder Johnny Damon is glad to see the Roger Clemens trial come to an end and is also happy with the verdict.
"I was very gratified for him," Damon said prior to the series opener on Friday at Minute Maid Park. "He's been going through this for a long time. With him being a former teammate of mine, I really enjoy the fact that he gets to enjoy his life now. He had a great career and now he gets to enjoy it. I was hoping he was still in [Houston] so he could come by and give me a visit."
Clemens was found not guilty of all charges at his federal perjury trial on Monday. Clemens was indicted in 2010 on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress based on his February 2008 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
"I'm sure it's a big relief for him," Damon said. "He's definitely one of my favorite teammates of all time, just the confidence that he exudes. Hopefully he can be inducted into [the Hall of Fame] this year."
Damon, who was teammates with Clemens on the Yankees in 2007, said he was surprised at the investigations into steroid use.
"It was amazing how they wanted to pursue it, especially with Clemens," he said. "One thing I know about Rocket is he's a very honest guy and a very convincing guy. So when Roger says that he never used performance-enhancing drugs, I believe him."
Hafner continues to make progress
HOUSTON -- Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was placed on the 15-day disabled on May 30, had his right knee scoped and is expected to miss another few weeks, but his progress continues.
"Pretty soon he's going to start running the bases," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That's the main thing for us. He's probably going to have to go through the baserunning issues. That's the next step.
"If he's OK after those drills, he'll go out and play on a rehab. Hopefully it will be at some point during this road trip."
The injury has coincided with cleanup hitter Carlos Santana's struggles at the plate. Acta said he doesn't see the correlation.
"I don't think it affected Santana personally. As a team, I think [a healthy Hafner] would have given me a better option to take Santana out of the cleanup hole while he's struggling."
Hafner last played on May 23.
Johnny Damon entered Friday's series opener hitting .346 (28-for-81) in his career against the Astros.
The Indians were hitting .252 with two outs this season entering Friday. That's third best in the American League, behind Texas (.287) and Boston (.254).
Lonnie Chisenhall has raised his average in the last 18 games from .206 to .280 by going 9-for-25 (.380) with two doubles, a triple and homer.
Cleveland has recorded 10 or more hits in four straight games entering Friday. That's one shy of a season high.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.