Notes: Brantley available; Astros on fans 

April 6th, 2021

Astros left fielder is expected to return to the starting lineup for Thursday’s home opener against the A’s at Minute Maid Park. Brantley has been out since he was hit on the right wrist by a pitch Saturday in Oakland.

While he wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday against the Angels, Brantley was available to pinch-run and play defense, manager Dusty Baker said. The Astros feel they dodged a bullet after X-rays performed on the wrist of Brantley showed no breaks.

Brantley crushed the ball in the first two games of the season, going 6-for-9 with four doubles. Even his outs were hit hard. His average exit velocity on batted balls through his first two games is 101.6 mph, and his hard-hit percentage was 87.5, which was in the top two percent of the league.

Rookie Chas McCormick and utility man Aledmys Díaz have split time in left field while Brantley has been out.

Astros eager for fans to return

For the first time since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, the Astros will welcome fans back to Minute Maid Park when they meet the A’s in their regular-season home opener Thursday. Last month, Houston announced it would not exceed 50 percent capacity for home games in the month of April.

“I can’t wait,” second baseman said. “Houston fans are the best and the biggest reason why we go out there and play hard every day. I’m really excited about Opening Day.”

, who will start Thursday, was one of 10 Astros pitchers to make their Major League debuts last year -- all of which came in front of empty stands. Javier started Friday in Oakland before fans for the first time in a big league stadium, but he will experience pitching before Astros fans for the first time Thursday.

“It’s really something different to have fans back,” Javier said. “I was able to stay calm and didn’t feel nervous out there. It’s a different type of adrenaline you have when the fans are in the stadium. It’s really great to have them.”