HOUSTON -- The Astros activated veteran catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jake Marisnick from the disabled list on Saturday, with McCann slated to start against the Angels. Because Sept. 1 is when Major League rosters can expand from 25 to 40, the Astros did not have to make corresponding moves.McCann
HOUSTON -- The Astros activated veteran catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jake Marisnick from the disabled list on Saturday, with McCann slated to start against the Angels. Because Sept. 1 is when Major League rosters can expand from 25 to 40, the Astros did not have to make corresponding moves.
McCann has been on the 10-day disabled list since July 3, when he had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus. He said on Saturday he felt significantly healthier than at any point in 2018.
"It's night and day from how I felt early in the season," McCann said of his health. "I'm excited to get back in there with everybody and compete. We like where we're at."
McCann slumped at the plate early in 2018 while dealing with the balky knee, hitting .206 with five home runs in 155 at-bats. The 34-year-old was a key part of Houston's run to a World Series title in '17 -- batting .241 with 18 homers in 349 at-bats, while providing strong leadership behind the plate.
"Just having [McCann] around the clubhouse is a big deal," said Marisnick. "When he was down on his rehab stint, we noticed a different kind of vibe in here. He's a huge part of the atmosphere in here, and he's unbelievable controlling that [pitching] staff."
Meanwhile, Marisnick went on the 10-day DL with left groin discomfort on Aug. 11. The injury came at a bad time for the right-handed outfielder, who was hitting .421 with a 1.402 OPS in eight games to start August. The 27-year-old's return to the Majors gives the Astros a trusted defensive option late in games, along with a potential jolt offensively for a team that has struggled recently at the plate.
"I feel great," Marisnick said. "I got a few at-bats down there [in the Minor Leagues, on a rehab stint], and I'm ready to go. I've felt good at the plate, really ever since that first time I got sent down [in May, so] I could clear my head.
"Right now, it feels really good to see the guys in the clubhouse," he added. "Just getting a chance to sit down and talk with some of them about this last stretch, there's a lot of excitement."
Following the activations, starting pitchers Lance McCullers (right forearm strain) and Charlie Morton (right shoulder discomfort) are the only Astros still on the 10-day DL -- though Morton is only expected to miss one start. McCullers is expected back later in the month, likely in a relief role.
As part of the roster expansion, left-handed reliever Cionel Perez and right-handed starting pitcher Josh James also joined the Astros on Saturday. Each was promoted from Triple-A Fresno, with the 25-year-old James set to make his first Major League start. Perez and James are ranked No. 4 and No. 6, respectively, on Houston's list of top prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.
Unlike 2017, when the Astros acquired Justin Verlander from Detroit in a blockbuster late-August trade, there was no Deadline move for Houston this year with a player who passed through waivers. Players must be dealt prior to 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the playoffs with the acquiring team.
Based on the caliber of talent rejoining the Astros from the DL, the feeling in the clubhouse is that they're still getting significant upgrades for the stretch run. Despite an uneven and injury-filled 14-12 August, in which Houston's AL West lead dropped to 1 1/2 games, the Astros believe the wave of reinforcements has them poised for a strong finish in September.
"You look around the clubhouse, and we've got everything we need in here," Marisnick said. "Guys are coming back healthy, and that's the boost we're getting. Instead of going out and getting somebody, we've got guys coming back healthy, and we're starting to play well together as a team."
Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.