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Astros get Yuli back; Correa close

@brianmctaggart
September 12, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Astros’ infield is getting closer to full strength. First baseman Yuli Gurriel ran the bases at full speed prior to Thursday’s finale against the A's, which was his final hurdle to test the left hamstring he strained last Friday. He was not in the starting lineup, but

HOUSTON -- The Astros’ infield is getting closer to full strength.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel ran the bases at full speed prior to Thursday’s finale against the A's, which was his final hurdle to test the left hamstring he strained last Friday.

He was not in the starting lineup, but Gurriel entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and took over at first base.

“It’s as hard as he’s worked on the bases,” manager AJ Hinch said before the game. “We needed to see him simulate some things like stopping abruptly coming around third or extending a ball into a double. He was running hard, and if he responds well to the down time after this, I would expect him to be back in the [starting] lineup tomorrow.”

Carlos Correa, who’s been sidelined since Aug. 19 with a sore back, will start at shortstop for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday in Game 3 of the Pacific Coast League championship series. Round Rock trails the best-of-five series, 2-0, and Correa will stay with the Express as long as it keeps winning. Round Rock could play home games Friday-Sunday and then play in the Triple-A championship game Tuesday if it wins its next three games.

If Round Rock loses Friday, the Astros might have to set up a live batting-practice session or two for Correa.

“It is the downside of the injuries that happen this time of year if you’re not fortunate enough to stay in the playoffs long enough or it’s not convenient and you kind of have to make do with what you can,” Hinch said. “He’s going to play as long as he can in Triple-A.”

Other injury news

• Right-hander Brad Peacock, who’s been out since Aug. 28 with a second bout of right shoulder discomfort, will travel with the club to Kansas City and throw a bullpen Friday. The Astros are trying to get him ramped up to join the team before the end of the regular season.

• All-Star reliever Ryan Pressly, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last month, will also travel to Kansas City to throw a bullpen session. He could be activated next week.

Umps pitch in for charity

Veteran Major League umpire Adrian Johnson, a native of Houston who worked the Astros-A’s series, will host a charity golf tournament on Nov. 22 at Quail Valley Country Club in Missouri City, Texas, to benefit UMPS CARE Charities -- the official philanthropy arm of MLB umpires.

Founded in 2006, UMPS CARE provides on-the-field ballpark visits throughout the season for military groups and underserved youth and provides college scholarships to children in foster care. On Tuesday, Johnson and fellow crew members Marvin Hudson, Chris Conroy and Cory Blaser distributed Build-A-Bear stuffed animals to kids being treated at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. The umpires make about 16 visits each season to pediatric hospitals across the country and in Canada.

“People don’t realize we’re actually human beings,” Johnson said. “They think we’re the guys that sleep behind home pate and wake up and get yelled at. It puts a face to it and lets people know we care about it. We do these Build-A-Bear workshops and hospital visits in all 30 markets all throughout the country. My golf tournament helps us pay for this visit we did in Houston.”

This year marked the third year the umpires have made hospital visits in Houston, thanks to UMPS CARE.

“We enjoy giving those kids a break and putting a smile on their faces,” Johnson said. “Some of these kids are just coming out of treatment and just to see a bear and somebody different talking to them is really worth it. That’s why we do it.”

To register to play in the tournament, visit www.umpscare.com.

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