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Gregerson leaves Astros for birth of child

ARLINGTON -- With a wide smile, Astros closer Luke Gregerson left Globe Life Park on a golf cart at 3:33 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

"It's time," Gregerson said.

Gregerson left the team to join his wife, Lindsey, in Orlando for the birth of their first child. Because of an expanded September roster, Gregerson wasn't placed on the paternity list; it's unclear when he'll return.

Gregerson is one of just three relievers not to have been used during the series against the Rangers, but manager A.J. Hinch is confident the bullpen will be fine in Gregerson's absence. The other two fresh relievers -- Vincent Velasquez and Michael Feliz -- are customarily considered for long relief, but Hinch said that all labels have to be shunned as September progresses.

"I get asked a lot about availability during the course of the season, but it's not as applicable in September," Hinch said. "I'll extend guys further than I would when you're trying to build endurance over the course of the season. I've got guys available. We'll match up the best we can."

On Wednesday, one night after using eight pitchers in a 6-5 walk-off loss, Hinch maintained that all of his relievers are available.

Pat Neshek, usually used as Gregerson's eighth-inning setup man, could conceivably slide into the closer's role, but Hinch won't hesitate to use him if a big out is needed earlier.

"I'm really not going to go in with a huge order," Hinch said. "If I need Neshek in the seventh to get a big out, then I will [use him]. If I have him available, he could be an option. Really, all bets are off. I think you've got to take every opportunity and do the best you can to get the outs."

Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for
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