Altuve, who’s on the injured list with a strained left hamstring, took batting practice on the field and took ground balls Monday for the first time since getting injured May 10.
Still, with Springer and Diaz unlikely to be available to play in Monday’s series opener against the White Sox, the Astros were left with one healthy bench player: backup catcher Max Stassi.
“You can’t have a perfect roster every night,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “It obviously creates some challenges for us, but it also gives opportunity to some guys. We haven’t played this particular lineup at all at the same time this season. It is what it is, and our guys have to find a way to get through the games.”
Here’s more on how each of the Astros’ injured players are progressing:
• Altuve was in good spirits following his on-field workout Monday and appears ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. That could come as early as Tuesday at Triple-A Round Rock, though the team has yet to announce anything. Altuve will likely only need to play in a pair of games before being activated later in the week. A good target is Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox.
“Everything went good,” Altuve said. “We run and caught ground balls and hit. Everything looks pretty good.”
A rehab assignment would also give Altuve a chance to work out of the funk he was in before he got injured. He was in an 11-for-68 slump (.162) in his 20 games prior to going on the IL, though the Astros have gone 7-1 since he went down.
“Even when I know the team’s playing really good, I’m ready to go out there and help them wherever I can,” he said. “It feels good to go back to baseball activities. It’s not really fun to be sitting out for a long time, and I just want to come back.”
• Springer was happy to be able to avoid a stint in the IL. He said his back has been sore and he took some uncomfortable swings Sunday in striking out three times against Red Sox ace Chris Sale. He said he wants to be smart about it and make it more serious.
“It’s very relieving to know that there wasn’t anything bad, so I’ll take it day by day and see what happens,” Springer said. “The bad news is they won’t let me play. I’m champing at the bit. It’s day to day for now, so we’ll see how I feel. … When I can go, I’ll go.”
• Hinch said Diaz, who had been starting at second base in place of Altuve before suffering his hamstring strain Friday, could be available Monday. Even though the Astros have a short bench, Hinch is going to try to stay away from Diaz. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in the lineup Tuesday.