Bregman, Alvarez among 4 back from IL

April 21st, 2021

Third baseman , designated hitter , catcher and infielder have been activated off the injured list, Astros manager Dusty Baker announced Tuesday.

Bregman and Maldonado started on Tuesday night against the Rockies, while Alvarez and García were available off the bench. With no DH in a National League ballpark, Baker said the Astros did not want Alvarez to play Coors Field’s spacious outfield, but noted the slugger will be available to pinch-hit.

Second baseman Jose Altuve, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list Wednesday with Bregman, Alvarez, Maldonado and García, has yet to pass protocols, per Baker.

“It’s feels excellent to get them back,” Baker said. “I just hope that they’re pretty sharp when they come back.”

To make room, catcher Garrett Stubbs was optioned to the alternate training site and placed on the taxi squad. Additionally, outfielder Ronnie Dawson and infielder Alex De Goti returned to the alternate training site, and infielder Taylor Jones was placed on the IL with an unspecified injury.

Bregman and Maldonado, who haven't played since April 13, said they have been working out to stay sharp, but discussed the difficulty of sitting out games midseason.

“It was super difficult,” Bregman said. “I want to contribute. It was difficult all-around, but I tried to stay in the best shape possible to be ready to come back and help this team win baseball games.”

“Kind of frustrated, but we understand the protocol, and we have to respect the protocol,” Maldonado said.

Bregman, Alvarez and company will help revitalize Houston’s offense, which was cold in recent days. The Astros only mustered 21 runs in their last eight games entering Tuesday, slashing .219/.283/.309 in that span. On Saturday against the Mariners, Houston's only hit came when José Marmolejos lost a fly ball in the sunshine.

The recent lack of production contrasts the Astros’ scorching start. In their first seven games, they averaged 7.3 runs and hit .289/.358/.534 with 15 homers. With Bregman, Alvarez and Maldonado again in the fold, Houston's offense is closer to fully operational.

“Now it’s time for us to go back to work and make up some ground,” Baker said.

The return of those big bats coincides with the Astros’ two-game trip to Coors Field, a hitter's haven that can serve as the backdrop for Houston's offensive rejuvenation.

Not only is the Rockies’ home park known for its high-octane offensive environment, but several Astros have a track record of success at the venue. Bregman entered 5-for-15 with two home runs and three doubles. Maldonado was 8-for-26 with two home runs. Carlos Correa was 8-for-19 with, coincidentally, two home runs.

But no Astro has had more success at Coors than Kyle Tucker. In four career games, Tucker was 7-for-12 with four triples and a homer.

“Just try and hit line drives,” Bregman said of hitting at Coors Field. “That’s it. Don’t try and do too much.”

Astros acquire Skeeters
The Astros finalized the acquisition of the Sugar Land Skeeters and now possess majority ownership of the Triple-A club, the team announced Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, the Skeeters will continue to play at Constellation Field through at least the 2045 season.

"We're thrilled to be a part of the Sugar Land community long term," said Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane. "Although the deal was finalized today, we’ve already been hard at work at Constellation Field to upgrade the facilities for our Minor League players and to enhance the fan experience at the ballpark. Player development and winning at the Minor League level have been a huge part of our organization, and we look to continue that commitment in Sugar Land.”

Worth noting
• Lance McCullers Jr. is doing “a lot better,” according to Baker, and is expected to pitch when the Astros return to Houston. Baker said he does not know specifically when the right-hander will make his next start.

McCullers, who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, became ill during his last start and required an IV after the game. Rookie Luis Garcia started in place of McCullers on Tuesday against the Rockies.

• Maldonado expressed confidence that the Astros will reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold. Bregman commented as well, saying that he hopes the team is able to reach the threshold.

“I’m partially vaccinated and tested negative like 20 million times in the last week,” Bregman said.