Aledmys Díaz back for first time since opener

August 29th, 2020

HOUSTON -- The Astros on Saturday activated infielder/outfielder from the injured list and optioned infielder Taylor Jones to the team’s alternate training site in Corpus Christi, Texas, though Jones was set to remain on the roster as the 29th man in Saturday’s doubleheader against the A’s.

The club also selected the contract of right-hander Luis Garcia to the Major League roster and optioned right-hander Chase De Jong to its alternate training site.

Díaz started at designated hitter on Opening Day on July 24, but he strained his groin in the fifth inning and has been on the injured list since. The return of Díaz gives the Astros more infield options while Alex Bregman is out with a right hamstring injury, considering Díaz can play first base, third base, left field and some shortstop.

“I wish I had a couple of Díazes,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “But I’m also careful not to overplay him because of his history of injuries and we can’t afford to lose him again.”

Díaz has been injured more than he’s been on the field since the Astros traded for him following the 2018 season as the replacement for Marwin Gonzalez in the utility infield/outfield role. He’s missed 30 games this year on the IL, and last year, he missed 56 games because of two different IL stints. Díaz has appeared in just 70 games in a Houston uniform entering Saturday.

Baker hoping for a trade
When asked if he hopes the Astros make a move prior to Monday’s Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. CT, Baker said “we’re hoping to,” but stopped short of saying what the club would like to add. It’s no secret Houston could use a veteran arm or two to help a bullpen, which has been hit hard by injuries this year.

“I can’t say what we need to add, because then whoever is occupying that position now is going to feel threatened, and you certainly don’t want that person to feel threatened,” Baker said. “It’s a little tough to go make some deals now because everybody wants a lot and gives you very little for it. When you’re in need, that’s when they really want to rip you off and you don’t know how much you have to give. Everybody wants Minor Leaguers, but our Minor Leagues are a little bit depleted over the last couple of years.”

The Astros have lost relievers Brad Peacock, Austin Pruitt, Chris Devenski and closer Roberto Osuna to injuries this year, while veteran Joe Smith has been on the restricted list the entire season. Pruitt and Osuna are likely out for the year, and Peacock’s velocity is down while throwing in Corpus Christi, Baker said Saturday, so his status is in doubt. Devenski could return soon.

The Astros have added Brooks Raley to their bullpen in the last couple of weeks, but another veteran arm would be a big addition in October. Adding one might be hard, though. The Astros’ Minor League system has been gutted by trades in recent years to acquire starting pitchers Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, among others. Plus, expanded playoffs means there are more teams looking to buy than in a typical season.

An important wrinkle to this year’s Trade Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big league team or the alternate training site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.

Worth noting
Baker said pitcher Jose Urquidy could make his 2020 debut next weekend in Anaheim. Urquidy, who has been out all season for undisclosed reasons, is up to 50 pitches on his throwing program at Corpus Christi and would be a huge boost to the rotation. He went 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA in nine games (seven starts) last year and threw five scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series.