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Altuve aims to be '120 percent' ready for spring

Astros star walking in knee brace after surgery on Oct. 19
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Speaking to reporters Sunday for the first time since he underwent major surgery on his right knee last month, Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve maintains he'll be fully recovered in time for the start of Spring Training in three months.

Altuve, who appeared at a private fan event at Minute Maid Park, underwent surgery Oct. 19 to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee. He played through knee pain for much of the second half of the season and the postseason.

HOUSTON -- Speaking to reporters Sunday for the first time since he underwent major surgery on his right knee last month, Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve maintains he'll be fully recovered in time for the start of Spring Training in three months.

Altuve, who appeared at a private fan event at Minute Maid Park, underwent surgery Oct. 19 to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee. He played through knee pain for much of the second half of the season and the postseason.

Altuve, 28, was wearing a hinged knee brace on his right leg but walking under his own power Sunday. He said he's not able to do too much in the early stages of his rehab, but knows he has plenty of time to recover before mid-February.

"We have a lot of time before Spring Training," said Altuve, who will join Houston Rockets star James Harden as the co-marshals of the Thanksgiving parade in Houston next week. "We're not doing a lot. The only thing they told me is we're going to be 120 percent for the first day of Spring Training, and that's what really matters."

Video: Altuve on Astros' free agents, 2019 season

Altuve, a six-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP, injured the knee sliding into second base in July at Colorado and was hobbled the rest of the season. Astros manager AJ Hinch said during the AL Championship Series that Altuve would have been on the disabled list had it been the regular season.

Coming off an MVP season in which he won his third batting title, Altuve hit .316 this year, with 13 homers and 61 RBIs in 137 games. It was the first time since his first full season in the Major Leagues (2012) in which he didn't play in at least 152 games.

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Altuve hit .276 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his final 127 at-bats after coming off the disabled list, and he batted .286 in the AL Division Series against Cleveland and .250 in the ALCS, which the Red Sox won in five games en route to the World Series title.

In addition to Altuve playing in pain, Lance McCullers Jr. pitched through a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the final week of the season and in five relief appearances in the playoffs. He underwent Tommy John surgery last week and will miss 2019.

"I don't think a lot of guys were 100 percent, and that's what makes this team so beautiful because you just try to go out there and overcome adversity and play for each other, and that's what we did," Altuve said.

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Astros 2B Jose Altuve and Rockets star James Harden will be co-grand marshals of next week's Thanksgiving parade in Houston."Maybe I can get my basketball skills better just talking to him," Altuve said. pic.twitter.com/ylUKVy3J9t

The Astros could look decidedly different next season, with key players such as pitcher Dallas Keuchel, infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez, pitcher Charlie Morton, catcher Brian McCann and designated hitter Evan Gattis facing free agency. Keuchel, Gonzalez and Altuve are the longest tenured members of the Astros.

"It's crazy," Altuve said. "Obviously, I want all my teammates to come back next year. We all know how free agency works. I just hope the best happens for them -- Marwin, Dallas, Evan Gattis, Charlie Morton. I hope that we get them back, but at the same time I hope they have a good free agency and there's something good coming for them."

Altuve and Gonzalez, both of whom are from Venezuela, are extremely close and have been teammates since 2012. Altuve signed a five-year, $151 million contract extension with Houston last spring and said he knows it's time for the versatile Gonzalez to test his value on the market.

"I don't think there's a single team in MLB that doesn't like Marwin," Altuve said. "For me, he's the savior. You have a problem, you call Marwin. That's one of the reasons why it's going to be really hard to get him back because he's in such high demand right now."

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, Jose Altuve