Altuve, who was rehabbing a left hamstring strain while on assignment with Triple-A Round Rock, flew home Tuesday after reporting “fatigue and soreness” in his right leg – the same leg on which he had knee surgery following last season. Correa, meanwhile, was out of the lineup for the second day in a row Tuesday with rib cage soreness.
“With Carlos, yesterday was a scheduled off-day, and he felt great,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “He went home and woke up this morning and was doing some things at home and getting treatment, and reported some soreness around his rib and alerted us. He was in the lineup, so I took the lineup down before [the media] came in the clubhouse and re-made it. He’s unavailable.”
Altuve has been out since May 10 with his hamstring strain, and the Astros have been taking it slow with him. He played two games for Round Rock at Nashville on a Minor League rehab assignment Sunday and Monday and went 2-for-9. The Astros were originally hoping to have him back in the lineup Tuesday against the Cubs, but his status is now up in the air.
Altuve, the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player, underwent surgery Oct. 19 to repair a patella (kneecap) avulsion fracture in his right knee that he sustained during the 2018 season, an injury that hampered him in the second half of last year and the playoffs.
Hinch said his hamstring is fine, but the right leg is now the main concern with Altuve.
“He’s just not able to load back on his right side the way that he normally does when he hits,” Hinch said. “That area is an area he’s been rehabbing for close to five, six months, seven months. As soon as he alerted us to that, we got him a ticket to fly home and we’re going to have him evaluated. We don’t want him playing at any level – rehabbing or at the Major League level – until he’s symptom-free from his hamstring or his right knee.”
Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said he doesn’t think the injuries are serious.
“I don’t anticipate any of the injuries we have right now to be long term to affect these players for the rest of the season, maybe for a couple of weeks here,” he said. “Altuve, obviously, you prefer he goes out and plays 100 percent and is able to be activated, but the reality is we’re especially cautious when someone’s been out for a while. They’ve got to feel really good and confident, and he’s not there, and we’re going to take more time.”
The Astros have been hit hard by injuries in the last week with George Springer (left hamstring), Aledmys Diaz (left hamstring) and Max Stassi (left knee soreness) hitting the injured list.
“Injuries suck, no matter what time it happens,” Hinch said. “This has been a bad week for us, but we’re going to be fine. We have good players that can win games.”
Smith gets work on the field
Astros relief pitcher Joe Smith, who has missed the entire season after undergoing surgery Dec. 18, following a rupture of his left Achilles tendon, took a big step forward Tuesday when he threw a bullpen session on the field and did some extensive pitchers' fielding practice.
Smith will fly to Florida on Thursday to work out at the team’s facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., beginning with a live bullpen session on Friday.
“He threw a more aggressive bullpen on the game mound, and we did some PFP stuff,” Hinch said. “We had him cover first, he fielded a couple of bunts, he threw a ball to the backstop and had to cover home – simulated as much PFP stuff as he can. He looked great. I told him that’s better than I anticipated him being, so that’s a good step for him. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and move on from there.”