HOUSTON -- Mired in a 1-for-21 slump to start the season -- and nursing a sore knee -- Astros leadoff hitter George Springer was out of the starting lineup for Wednesday’s series finale against the Dodgers. Springer banged up one of his knees when he ran into the wall making a catch to rob José Marmolejos of a hit in the first inning Sunday against the Mariners.
“He’s feeling a little better, but he’s still a little sore,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Springer’s only hit so far this season was a sixth-inning homer Saturday in the second game of the season. He’s gone hitless in his last 14 at-bats after he came off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday and drew a walk and struck out looking.
“George is struggling right now,” Baker said. “I’ve been where he’s been. It seems like there’s eight infielders and about six or seven outfielders. It looks like there’s a hole on the field and every time you get to the plate it’s 0-2. Anybody that’s played this game has been there before. This is a more of a clear-your-head day and stop counting.
“As a hitter, you count. Now, I’m 0-for-22, now I’m 0-for-23. Guess what? You don’t stop counting it’ll be 0-for-24. It’s a good day to go in the cage and work and clear your head.”
Myles Straw made his first start of the season Wednesday in place of Springer and went 1-for-5 with an infield RBI single. Baker said the speedster has been dealing with a sore hamstring.
“That’s why you haven’t seen him,” Baker said.
Scrubb fired up to face Dodgers
Andre Scrubb became the seventh Astros pitcher -- and eighth player -- to make his Major League debut in 2020 when he threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Dodgers. Houston’s bullpen has been decimated by injuries, and coupled with the expanded rosters, that means some young arms are growing up in a hurry.
“Honestly, I’m still trying to put it all together in my head,” Scrubb said Wednesday. “It’s a great experience. It wasn’t something I was expecting.”
Scrubb began Tuesday in Corpus Christi, Texas, where the club’s alternate training site is, and was in the shower when he got a call to head to Houston. He quickly headed off to face the Dodgers -- the team who drafted him and traded him to Houston a year ago for Tyler White.
“That gave me a little extra adrenaline on the mound,” said Scrubb, who was Dodgers pitcher Dustin May’s throwing partner in Double-A.
Scrubb spent the shutdown working out in New Jersey with Astros pitcher Brandon Bielak, who made his debut Monday. Scrubb and Bielak hit it off when Bielak gently reminded him during spring training that he shouldn’t show up late.
“He’s not a big leaguer yet and he came up to me, very friendly, and [said] ‘Hey, you should start coming to the field a little earlier,’” Scrubb said. “He was looking out for me. I didn’t know anything. It was awesome. We clicked since that day.”
Astros facing first road trip
With the Astros set to make their first road trip of the season, pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who will start Friday’s series opener against the Angels in Anaheim, said the club recently held a meeting and discussed the importance of following the protocols to avoid contracting the coronavirus while on the road.
The Miami Marlins had their games postponed until Monday after several players tested positive for the virus while the club was on the road in Philadelphia over the weekend.
“It’s on us,” McCullers said. “I’m not sure what the story is with Miami and how the virus was contracted and how it kind of spread. I see guys here being very good and diligent about the guidelines and making sure they do the right things. We’re confident we can continue to have good testing and stay on the right track.”
The Astros can bring three extra players on a taxi squad on the road this year, and one of them has to be a catcher. Baker said the club doesn’t necessarily have to bring extra players.
“Damn near everybody we’ve got available is here now,” he said.
Veteran relief pitchers Ryan Pressly (elbow soreness) and Chris Devenski (elbow soreness) are progressing but aren’t ready yet. They’ll travel with the team to California with hopes they can return soon.