McTaggart on Astros' tall order in AL West

ANAHEIM -- The Astros' first trip here means a reunion with Albert Pujols, who was a longtime nemesis of the Astros while they were in the National League Central and Pujols was with the Cardinals. He entered Friday as a career .311 hitter with 42 homers and 112 RBIs against Houston.

It was also the Astros' first look at 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout, who has become one of the best players in the game. And don't forget Josh Hamilton, the former American League MVP winner with the Rangers.

Astros manager Bo Porter doesn't buy into the early-season struggles of Trout and Hamilton, neither of whom had homered entering Friday.

"They have good players, regardless of what the stats may say or regardless of what's happened before," he said. "We're going to have to play good baseball in order to be competitive with these guys and try to win some ballgames."

On Friday, Trout batted second in front of Pujols and Hamilton, which is about as formidable as a 2-3-4 and as you'll see in baseball.

"I watched these guys play a lot and these are the names everybody is going to point out, but there are names like [Howie] Kendrick and [Mark] Trumbo that can really hurt you," Porter said. "I don't think we should stop at those three guys. They have a really good Major League lineup."

Trip to Anaheim a homecoming for Astros' trio

OAK@HOU: Dominguez's single pulls Astros within six

ANAHEIM -- Brandon Barnes, who grew up blocks from Angel Stadium, isn't the only Astros player enjoying a homecoming this weekend. Third baseman Matt Dominguez is from Van Nuys, which is about 42 miles from Anaheim, and relief pitcher Hector Ambriz is from Placentia, which is only about five miles from the ballpark.

The trip home marks the first in a Major League uniform for Dominguez, who never got a chance to play in Dodger Stadium while he was with the Marlins, so he has a lot of family coming. He estimates about 100 friends and family members will be in attendance Sunday.

"I always look forward to coming to the West Coast because that's where I grew up," he said. "Coming here and even to Oakland, I have some family up there, too. I think a lot of people are looking forward to seeing me play, and I'm looking forward to playing here."

Dominguez's father, Fernando, is a copy editor on the sports desk of the Los Angeles Times and will be in attendance this weekend.

Ambriz, who attended UCLA, spent the off-day Thursday at his parents' house, which meant tons of home cooking. His mother made enchiladas for lunch and his father barbecued in the back yard for dinner.

"I gained eight pounds, but it was well worth it," he said.

Ambriz actually grew up cheering for the Dodgers, but he attended more games in Anaheim because it was so close.

"When I was younger I would go to the front yard and see the Big A and see if the Angels had won because they'd light it up," he said.

Corporan working extra on the side in backup role

OAK@HOU: Corporan nabs Crisp trying to steal third

ANAHEIM -- With Jason Castro healthy and taking on a full workload this season, backup catcher Carlos Corporan has only been starting when Lucas Harrell pitches. He'll make only his third start of the season Saturday when Harrell's turn in the rotation comes up.

Corporan, who played a lot in Spring Training, has been going to the bullpen in the fifth or sixth inning to get more work catching and has been doing more conditioning and exercising, as well.

"I'm doing extra work, doing conditioning with relievers to keep my body in shape," he said. "That way, I feel like I've been playing when it's my day to start."

Corporan appeared in 27 games last year for the Astros, making 22 starts at catcher, but spent most of the year in Triple-A. Chris Snyder was Castro's backup last year, but Corporan came up when Castro was on the disabled list in the middle of the season and came up again when rosters expanded.

"In Spring Training I was catching a lot, but now I have to work double," he said. "You get used to it. It's not an easy role, but it is what it is. The more you do it, the better you get."

Worth noting

• Astros manager Bo Porter says he's not one to have a team meeting if the team is struggling.

"I think that if you have something to say, you say it to the individual player or the few players you may be talking to," he said. "From my history, the manager is talking to 25 guys, but he's really talking to one or two and the other 23 are sitting there saying, 'Why am I sitting here?'"

• Porter said right-hander Alex White underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Thursday and came through it fine. Porter said he and White exchanged text messages following the procedure. White, acquired in December from the Rockies, will miss the rest of the season.