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Bregman (elbow surgery) eyeing March 1 return

All-Star says arm has been bothering him since 2016
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Friday morning, All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman told MLB.com his arm has bothered him for about three years and finally opted for surgery when it began to affect his range of motion last month.

Bregman, in an exclusive interview while traveling on his way home from the hospital, said he's eager to bounce back from the setback and plans to be 100 percent by the start of the 2019 regular season. In fact, Bregman is eyeing the Astros' March 1 Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals as the target for his return to game action.

HOUSTON -- After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Friday morning, All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman told MLB.com his arm has bothered him for about three years and finally opted for surgery when it began to affect his range of motion last month.

Bregman, in an exclusive interview while traveling on his way home from the hospital, said he's eager to bounce back from the setback and plans to be 100 percent by the start of the 2019 regular season. In fact, Bregman is eyeing the Astros' March 1 Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals as the target for his return to game action.

For now, he'll be focused on rehabilitation and recovery before starting baseball-related activities. Bregman said the surgery was to remove bone chips in his right elbow.

"Ever since probably 2016, my arm's been bugging me since about Spring Training," he said. "It never was worse, though, than this offseason in December around Christmastime, where it locked out. That's the thing you read about bone chips and your arm locking and not being able to move it.

"So my arm locked out, and it just was like so stiff to where I could barely move it. I had to go get a CT scan, and it showed that I had bone chips in it. It's something you can play through a little bit, but when it locks out, you're looking at a DL stint, and I wasn't willing to risk going on the DL this year for something I know I could fix before the season started. So we went ahead and knocked it out."

Tweet from @ABREG_1: I���ll be ready ...believe that... fixing to kick this rehabs ass. https://t.co/3pXNmZBj6P

Bregman said he wished he would have known about the bone chips sooner but admitted he always took the mentality of not wanting to say anything to the training staff, which he credited for doing a great job throughout the process.

"They gave the option, kind of, to either try and stick it out through this year and play with it or get the surgery done, and I figured the smarter decision would be to get the surgery done due to the fact that I would be able to ensure that there would be no DL stints due to it during the season," he said. "I had to go ahead and get ahead of it and knock it out."

Bregman will have a checkup in four days and will get the stitches out in about 10 days, at which point he can start working out.

"It's a minor surgery, but it's something that you don't want to go too quickly," he said. "You're strictly waiting for the tissue to heal and the incision to close up. Then you work on range of motion first, then strengthening it, and once you feel good, you'll start throwing.

Video: Hinch talks about Bregman's elbow injury, surgery

"I got my eye on that first week of March playing in games. I think we have a night game against St. Louis, March 1. If everything goes as planned, I'll be playing in that game and getting plenty of Spring Training reps to be ready for the season and ready to absolutely kill it."

Bregman, 24, is coming off a career season in which he hit .286 with career highs in homers (31), RBIs (103), doubles (51), walks (96), on-base percentage (.394), slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.926). He led the Astros in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks and OPS and was named the team's Most Valuable Player.

He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game after hitting the game-winning homer for the American League. He's the first player in Major League history to have at least 30 homers and 50 doubles in a season while playing the majority of his games at third base.

Video: 2018 ASG: Bregman starts the 10th with a home run

Some other key Astros will be recovering from surgery as well when spring camp opens. Star second baseman Jose Altuve underwent surgery Oct. 19 to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee. He played through knee pain for much of the second half of the season and the playoffs.

"He's been making great progress in his rehab, so he's expected to be full go, 100 percent [by the start of spring camp]," president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said. Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. pitched through a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the final week of the season and playoffs and underwent Tommy John surgery Nov. 6. He will miss the entire 2019 season. Shortstop Carlos Correa had surgery Nov. 5 to repair a deviated septum but has fully recovered.

Veteran reliever Joe Smith underwent surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon Dec. 18 and will miss about the first half of the season.

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

Houston Astros, Alex Bregman