HOUSTON -- All-Star second baseman José Altuve was officially placed on the 10-day injured list on Saturday night, a day after leaving in the first inning of a game against the Rangers with what manager AJ Hinch called a slight left hamstring strain.
Altuve, who’s hitting .243, including going 15-for-84 in his past 24 games, legged out an infield hit on a dribbler to third base Friday, then he was removed from action during Alex Bregman's ensuing at-bat after making eye contact with Hinch and expressing some discomfort.
“I think we’re trying to be careful with this,” Altuve said. “It can take one day, but it can take 10 days; we don’t know. I guess we made the right decision.”
Altuve said he felt his muscle tighten when he was running to first base and then became worried when the hamstring continued to bother him while he was getting his secondary lead off first base.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but at the same time, you see how the team’s playing. That makes you go and take your time and be 100 percent and come back and try to help your team win,” he said. “This is not about me. This is not about one single player. This is about the team. We have a great opportunity to go to playoffs this year, and the only thing I want is to be 100 percent.”
Hinch strongly hinted before Saturday's 11-4 win over the Rangers that Altuve would need to be sidelined, saying he was “not optimistic” that the former AL MVP would be able to avoid going on the injured list.
“While we don’t think it’s serious, the initial diagnosis is a slight strain of his hamstring," Hinch said. "It’s still unknown right now what the extent of it is until he meets with the doctors one more time.”
While Hinch described Altuve as “in good spirits,” he also said the Astros want to “be very careful,” with him.
“[General manager Jeff Luhnow] and I talk about this all the time: When you have these three-, five-, seven-day injuries, they always last longer than you think,” Hinch said. “We’ve gone through this with [Altuve] before. We’ve gone through this with Alex [Bregman]. We went through this with George [Springer]. These quads and hammies and calves, as soon as you think it’s four or five days, you probably should err on the side of caution and put them on the injured list and play with a full team.”
Martin slated to make MLB debut
Martin will make his Major League debut in Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers. Veteran right-hander Collin McHugh, who was slated to start, was informed earlier this week by Hinch he was moving to the bullpen after a few poor starts.
McHugh (3-4, 6.37 ERA) has gone 0-4 with a 12.00 ERA in his last four starts after starting the season 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his first four starts. McHugh was available in the bullpen Friday and even caught Jake Marisnick's home run ball in his cap while sitting in the ‘pen in right-center field.
“We need to get him back to being aggressive and using his fastball and getting his pitches back to where they were, really at the beginning of this season,” Hinch said. “Three of his last four starts have been a little bit rough. The characteristics around his pitches aren’t the same, so I told him his next few outings will be in the bullpen.”
McHugh started 102 games for the Astros from 2014-17 before being moved to the bullpen last year because of Houston’s starting rotation depth. He appeared in 58 games in relief in ’18 and posted a 1.99 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP, both of which ranked fourth best among AL relievers.
“When [Brad] Peacock pitched last, his increased fastball velocity and effectiveness helped his breaking ball,” Hinch said. “I think that aggressiveness can be more utilized and certainly more emphasized in the bullpen. He won’t get as many reps as he would if we just told him to go out and throw more fastballs in a start. Our goal is to get him back to being more efficient with his fastball and obviously his breaking ball comes with it. He can even throw his curveball a little bit more, his changeup a little bit more.”
Martin, a Houston native who was taken in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Texas A&M, was 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA in five games (four starts) for Triple-A Round Rock. In 24 1/3 innings, he allowed 14 hits, 11 walks and struck out 28 batters. The hard-throwing Martin was taken with the extra pick the Astros received (No. 56 overall) from the Cardinals in the hacking scandal.