Notes: Bregman returns; Altuve update

September 8th, 2020

All-Star third baseman was activated from the injured list by the Astros and was in the lineup for Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the A’s. Bregman, who will serve as the Astros’ 29th player for both games of the doubleheader, batted second in the lid-lifter.

“I feel great and super excited to come back and try and do my part to contribute and win games,” Bregman said. “I’m very thankful to the trainers and strength coaches, the doctors, and look forward to coming back and playing some good baseball.”

Bregman missed 17 games after straining his right hamstring while running the bases Aug. 19 in Colorado. The Astros went 7-10 in his absence and fell to 4 1/2 games behind the first-place A’s in the American League West entering Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Astros manager Dusty Baker wasn’t sure whether Bregman would play in the nightcap.

“The thing that worries you is time in between, the cool-down time before he starts back up,” Baker said. “Right now, we’re batting him second in the game to try to get him as many at-bats as possible to find his stroke. … This guy’s such a natural, who knows how his stroke’s going to be on live pitching.”

Bregman was hitting .272 with four homers and 14 RBIs this year and was riding a nine-game hitting streak when he went on the injured list. He entered Tuesday having reached base in 40 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

Altuve runs the bases
Astros second baseman , who’s on the injured list with a right knee sprain, took a major step toward returning to the club when he ran sprints and ran the bases at the Coliseum in Oakland on Tuesday. Altuve could come off the injured list as early as Sunday for the Astros' night game against the Dodgers

“He ran today and looked pretty good,” Baker said. “He looked real good, actually. His straightaway movement was good. … The lateral movement around the bases is still, you know, something to be desired a little bit, but we’ll do more of that tomorrow. I’ll tell you, we’re very happy where he is on his progress right now.”

Altuve singled in his first at-bat against Rangers starter Lance Lynn on Wednesday in Houston for his 1,600th career hit and was injured when he slid hard into third base feet-first while running the bases on a single by Michael Brantley. Considering that was the same knee Altuve had major surgery on following the 2018 season, the Astros can breathe a sigh of relief.

McCullers finds relief
Astros pitcher , who went on the injured list Sunday with neck nerve irritation, has received a mild anti-inflammatory injection, according to a source. Baker said the injection alleviated the irritation on the nerve in his neck.

“I’m just glad to hear that he was relieved of that pain and tingling that we’ve all had at some point in time,” Baker said.

McCullers didn’t record an out Friday in Anaheim while facing five hitters, giving up three runs on two hits and three walks. After the game, McCullers said he had trouble getting loose and gripping the ball and landed on the injured list on Sunday. He flew back to Houston for tests.

McCullers, who had Tommy John surgery following the 2018 season, returned to the mound on July 25 and threw six innings to beat the Mariners. He’s been up and down since, going 3-2 with a 5.79 ERA in eight starts. He’s 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in four starts at home and 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in four starts on the road.

Worth noting
• Baker said he plans to wear wristbands Wednesday with the likeness of Roberto Clemente on them when baseball celebrates Roberto Clemente Day. Baker said he handed out some additional wristbands to some of the Latin American players. Puerto Rican players Carlos Correa and Martín Maldonado will wear No. 21 on Wednesday in honor of Clemente.

• The Astros added catcher Korey Lee -- their first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft -- and shortstop Jeremy Peña to the team’s 60-man player pool and sent them to the alternate training site in Corpus Christi, Texas. Peña was in big league Spring Training this year, but he wasn’t on the roster for Summer Camp.