HOUSTON -- Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year, could return to the lineup “very soon,” manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday. Alvarez has been on the injured list for a month and hasn’t played this season, though he’s participating in instrasquad games at the team’s alternate training site in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Who knows?” Baker said. “He could be here in a couple of days.”
The return of the 23-year-old designated hitter would be a huge boost for a Houston lineup that had been without George Springer (wrist) the previous five games -- Springer returned to the lineup Wednesday -- and has seen 2017 Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve struggle mightily at the plate. Baker kept Altuve out of the lineup Wednesday and said he wanted to let Altuve sit behind him in the dugout for the game against the Giants so they could talk -- the same strategy Tommy Lasorda used with him when he was struggling as a player.
Alvarez burst onto the scene last year and hit .313 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 87 games, becoming a unanimous choice for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He’s been plagued for the last year by knee issues, which continue to limit him to only getting at-bats as a designated hitter.
When Alvarez comes back, the Astros will have to move veteran Michael Brantley (sore right quad) back to right field. Brantley has started primarily at DH since he stepped on the foot of Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly at first base July 28. He wasn’t in the lineup Wednesday against San Francisco.
Here are some other injury updates:
• Right-hander Jose Urquidy (undisclosed) was scheduled to throw 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound Wednesday in Corpus Christi for the second time in a span of a few days. Baker has said Urquidy’s timeline to return depends on whether he’ll be a relief pitcher or a starter, which was the role he had late last season and in the playoffs.
• Right-hander Brad Peacock (right shoulder soreness) was scheduled to throw a bullpen side session Wednesday in Corpus Christi and is progressing towards a return. He went 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 games (15 starts) last year but had two stints on the injured list with right shoulder soreness (June 28-Aug. 18) and right shoulder discomfort (Aug. 28-Sept. 22).
• Utility infielder Aledmys Díaz, who was placed in the IL following the first game of the season with right groin discomfort, has gone through agility work in Corpus Christi and has started taking batting practice and running drills.
• Closer Roberto Osuna, who was placed on the 45-day IL last week with right arm discomfort, hasn’t ruled out a return in 2020. He’s been shut down from throwing for several weeks but is going to try to rehab and get back on the mound at the end of the season.
• Right-hander Chris Devenski (right elbow soreness) threw his first bullpen session Wednesday in Corpus Christi since getting injured and is progressing as expected.