The Astros had a special visitor ahead of Monday's series opener against the Angels in Anaheim: third-base coach Gary Pettis.
Pettis stepped away from the team after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma toward the end of last season. He has been receiving treatment for his illness in Southern California, and the Astros' West Coast road trip made it possible for him to rejoin them temporarily.
Pettis said he is doing well and that his treatments have gone better than expected. He added that he is eager to get back to coaching.
“I’m doing well,” he said. “I’m ready to get back to baseball, that’s for sure.”
But even before Pettis was able to join the Astros in person at Angel Stadium, some players crashed the pregame Zoom call to show their excitement.
“We love you, brotha,” Bregman said in his appearance.
In a separate pregame Zoom call, Gurriel said seeing Pettis again is special for the Astros.
“[Pettis] is like family,” Gurriel said in Spanish. “We miss him a lot. He is a big part of the team, and we’re really happy [to see him].”
Pettis’ return to the organization was delayed during Spring Training, but that was not due to any issues related to his health.
Video conferences allowed Pettis to stay in touch with the Astros, but being on the West Coast meant very early mornings for the California native.
“Spring Training was a lot of that. It was a lot of Facetime, a lot of phone calls,” Pettis said. “For me, a lot of early phone calls, because 7:30 a.m. in West Palm is 4:30 a.m. here in California.”
Pettis is unsure of when he could return to the team full-time, but hopes to do so this summer.
“I don’t have a definitive answer, but I do know I’m looking forward to getting back as soon as I can,” he said.
Brantley could return Tuesday
Outfielder Michael Brantley avoided a serious injury after being hit on the right wrist in Saturday's win over the A's.
Baker said Brantley could be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s finale against the Angels. The manager added that it depends on how well Brantley can swing a bat prior to the game.
“We’re not going to force him, but we hope that, you know, he’ll be able to [play] tomorrow. [It] just depends if he can swing or not,” Baker said.
Bielak’s historic relief outing
Brandon Bielak made history in his Sunday outing, as he became just the second Astros pitcher in franchise history to not allow a hit or walk in at least 4 2/3 innings of work.
As a rookie in 2020, Bielak finished with a 6.75 ERA in 32 innings of work. Bielak earned himself a bullpen spot on this season’s Opening Day roster for Houston after injuries opened the doors for him to make the club.
Bielak said his goal in his season debut was to help his club finish off the sweep.
“I mean, not pitching in the first three games, [I was] kind of getting anxious down there to get in the game, since I was the only one not in the game yet," said Bielak. "The main goal was to go out there and just throw strikes.”
Bielak said pitching in front of his family will be a special moment for him this season, since they weren’t able to see him pitch last year.
“[I’m] looking forward to seeing them in the stands and waving to them in stands to make it a little bit special since they weren’t able to get there last year,” he said.
Scrubb progressing well
Baker said reliever Andre Scrubb is progressing well after sustaining a shoulder injury midway through Spring Training. There is no timeline for when he could return, though the injury is not believed to be long term.
In the shortened 2020 season, Scrubb was effective for the Astros' bullpen, posting a 1.90 ERA in 23 2/3 innings as a rookie.