HOUSTON -- Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was out of the lineup Saturday against the A’s because his legs were “a little sore,” according to manager Dusty Baker. That would give Bregman two consecutive days off, considering the Astros are scheduled to be off on Sunday.
“We’ve got to take care of him,” Baker said. “In Spring Training, he didn’t go nine [innings], I don’t think, one time. He’s been playing a lot -- and I just decided it would be best to give him off because his legs are a little sore.”
Bregman suffered a left hamstring strain running sprints in January and was brought along slowly in the spring. He didn’t appear in a Grapefruit League game until March 16, though he got dozens of at-bats on the back fields in Florida. He’s slashing .310/.355/.552 with two homers and six RBIs through seven games (29 at-bats) so far this year.
Aledmys Díaz started at third base against the A’s in place of Bregman.
Odorizzi set to join the rotation
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who signed with the Astros on March 8 and needed additional time to get ready for the season, said Saturday he’s scheduled to make his debut with his new team Tuesday against the Tigers at Minute Maid Park.
“I’m happy where things are at and now it’s time to go out and do it for real,” he said.
Odorizzi made two starts at the Astros’ alternate training site to build up his arm strength. He threw 5 2/3 innings Thursday, allowing three runs and five hits while throwing 90 pitches against the Rangers’ alternate training site squad. The Astros added him to their taxi squad Saturday.
“We got to 75 pitches in the first outing and 90 in the next,” he said. “That’s exactly what we were looking to do. I came through it feeling well. I’ll be ready to go. It’s been a weird time for me, in general, just showing up late and going to a different site than the rest of the players. Today is my first time here [at Minute Maid Park] and I’m getting my bearings. Just a lot of excitement going on and I’m sure there will be a lot of them on the 13th when I’m ready to play.”
In anticipation of Odorizzi’s arrival, Baker said right-hander Cristian Javier was being sent to the alternate training site in Corpus Christi so he can build his pitch count up. Javier was slowed in the spring when he had to go into quarantine while awaiting COVID-19 contact-tracing results. He started twice for the Astros this year, throwing 73 pitches in 3 2/3 innings April 2 and 88 pitches in five innings in a win Thursday.
“He wasn’t going to pitch for a few days,” Baker said. “We’re trying to build him back up to where he was so he can get his endurance and go more than five innings like he did the last time. He was throwing the ball great.”
Baker said Javier should rejoin the rotation for the Angels series in Houston, April 22-25.
Báez dealing with shoulder soreness
Veteran reliever Pedro Báez was removed from the COVID injured list and put on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder soreness on Saturday. That meant he was now occupying a spot on the 40-man roster, which in turn forced the club to move right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt (offseason elbow surgery) to the 60-day injured list.
“[Báez] came off the COVID IL and in his work routine was trying to do too much too soon,” Baker said. “He came up with mild shoulder soreness, so we had to back him off from throwing a few days. That will set him back a little bit further than what he or we had scheduled.”
Báez, who signed a two-year deal with the Astros in January, was expected to be a key piece of the bullpen this year. The 33-year-old appeared in 355 games in relief over seven years with the Dodgers, posting a 3.03 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and 131 ERA+. He threw 17 innings in last year’s shortened season and gave up six earned runs with seven walks and 13 strikeouts (1.00 WHIP).
• Baker said right-hander Enoli Paredes, who was placed on the 10-day IL Friday with right side soreness, won’t throw for at least a couple of weeks. “We caught it before it became major,” he said. “It’s still got to be at least a couple of weeks and a few days before [he] starts throwing. You don’t want to make it worse or be chronic.”