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Springer out of lineup, but available, for finale

Top prospect Perez optioned to Double-A as Gurriel returns from paternity leave
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

ST. PETERSBURG -- After making a pair of diving catches on the Tropicana Field turf on Saturday and taking a tumble into the stands while trying to track down a foul ball, Astros outfielder George Springer was nursing a sore back and was out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale at the Rays.

"He's beat up a little bit, but he's fine and available," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We feel like after tumbling into the stands -- we forget about that play -- and then he had a little jolt at the end with the great play [in the eighth inning], a couple of dives, he's just a little beat up. He'll get treatment most of the day, and we'll see if I use him later in the game."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- After making a pair of diving catches on the Tropicana Field turf on Saturday and taking a tumble into the stands while trying to track down a foul ball, Astros outfielder George Springer was nursing a sore back and was out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale at the Rays.

"He's beat up a little bit, but he's fine and available," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We feel like after tumbling into the stands -- we forget about that play -- and then he had a little jolt at the end with the great play [in the eighth inning], a couple of dives, he's just a little beat up. He'll get treatment most of the day, and we'll see if I use him later in the game."

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With a day off Monday, the Astros are playing it safe with Springer, who's in a massive slump. The World Series Most Valuable Player had four hits in his last 58 at-bats prior to Sunday, including a 1-for-34 funk he's currently riding. Springer wasn't available for comment pregame.

Because Springer is nursing an injury, the Astros decided to keep first baseman AJ Reed and instead optioned left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez to Double-A Corpus Christi following Saturday's game to make room on the roster for first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who was activated from the paternity list and in the lineup Sunday.

Perez, the Astros' No. 6-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, warmed up in the eighth inning Saturday and was one hitter away from making his Major League debut. Reed was called up Thursday when Gurriel went on the paternity list and figures to stay with the club until veteran reliever Joe Smith is activated from the disabled list, likely on Tuesday.

Smith was scheduled to throw his second and final rehab outing Sunday at Corpus Christi and is expected to join the club for the series opener against the Rangers in Arlington.

Gurriel rejoined the club Sunday following the birth of his son, Jayren, in Houston.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel, Cionel Perez, George Springer