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Altuve sidelined a few days with soreness

@brianmctaggart
March 9, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch said All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve won't play for a few days after he was scratched from the starting lineup against the Cardinals for the second time in three days on Saturday with soreness on his left side. “We’re just not going to

JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch said All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve won't play for a few days after he was scratched from the starting lineup against the Cardinals for the second time in three days on Saturday with soreness on his left side.

“We’re just not going to risk it,” Hinch said after Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Cardinals. “He’s probably not going to play for a few days. To be honest with you, this is not that important of a week for him. We’ll make sure to get him checked out by the doctors to ensure that nothing’s happening.”

Altuve took batting practice on the back fields at the team’s complex in West Palm Beach on Saturday morning and took extensive ground balls and was still a little bit achy.

“It’s a little tightness, I would say,” Altuve said. “I don’t think it’s bad at all.”

Altuve said he was hesitant with his swings during batting practice, which Hinch says a product of him feeling something and not knowing exactly what it is.

“He tests out really well behind the scenes with our training staff and it’s just a slow, steady process for him,” Hinch said. “If he feels anything, we ask our guys to let us know. Nothing that alarming at this point in spring, but being it’s the second time he’s been scratched we’re going to take a couple of days and he’s going to get a full couple of workdays before we put him into a game. We certainly want him back on the field and back on the field when he’s 100 percent.”

Altuve has been eased into camp this year considering he had surgery Oct. 19 to repair a broken kneecap, and he’s gone 2-for-11 in five Grapefruit League games. He injured the knee originally sliding into second base last July and aggravated it a few times as the season progressed. He had surgery shortly after the Astros were eliminated by the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Whitley pleased with outing

Pitcher Forrest Whitley, the No. 7 overall ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, was pleased with his relief outing Friday against the Cardinals when he struck out six batters in three innings, including Paul Goldschmidt twice, after giving up a first-pitch homer to Matt Carpenter.

“There were definitely some positives I could take from it, along with some negative,” he said. “I seem to dwelling on those a little bit more than I should be, but I was pretty happy with last night. I was able to execute two-strike pitches pretty well and get a decent amount of strikeouts. That was pretty big, something I hadn’t been doing a lot the last two outings. That’s a positive I could take away.”

While it’s only Spring Training, Whitley said facing hitters the caliber of All-Stars like Carpenter and Goldschmidt is both a good test for him and a thrill.

“You get a good rush of adrenaline once you see big leagues like that in the lineup and finally step in the box,” he said. “Those two guys, I’ve watched them play for quite some time now, and they’re respected players. A big honor to throw against them for sure.”

Whitley lamented pitching around Carpenter when he faced him the second time. That was the only walk he issued.

“I should have gone right after him,” he said. “I’ll handle that situation a little bit better next time. After giving up a home run, don’t try to get too cute with him. Just go right at him.”

Roster moves

The Astros made their second round of roster reductions Saturday, sending seven more players to Minor League camp. Right-hander Bryan Abreu and catcher Garrett Stubbs were optioned, and right-hander Akeem Bostick, outfielder Robbie Dawson, infielder Taylor Jones, and Josh Rojas and catcher Chuckie Robinson were reassigned.

“Garrett Stubbs has taken a nice step forward all around and came in and made a nice impression,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Bryan Abreu is really intriguing as a young pitcher with good stuff and plus breaking balls, and he handled the jump from A-ball to big league camp about as well as we could have expected.

“Chuckie Robinson is a really good defensive catcher who can move the ball around a little bit offensively. I know our infielders like when Jones plays first because he’s a huge target who handles himself around the bag very well.”

The moves leave the Astros with 48 players in camp, including 35 players on the 40-man roster and 13 non-roster invitees.

“This is a time where we’re going to start to thin the room out and have it feel a little closer to our Major League team,” Hinch said. “I’m happy with the camp a lot of these guys have had.”

Worth noting

• Left-handed pitcher Cionel Perez will throw his second live batting practice session Sunday and should get into his first Grapefruit League game in the coming days.

• Right-hander Josh James, who substain a quad strain Feb. 24, threw a bullpen session Saturday and will throw his first live batting practice early next week. That should be his final hurdle before getting into a game for the first time.

Up next

Wade Miley makes his third start of the spring when the Astros play the Nationals at 12:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Astros are the home team. Closer Roberto Osuna is also scheduled to pitch.

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