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Return of Altuve, Springer buoys lineup

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- With All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve (left shoulder) and outfielder George Springer (left hamstring) both returning to the lineup for Friday's series opener against the A's after battling nagging injuries all week, the Astros are close to full strength once again.

"Any time your best players can get back in the lineup, it's a good, comfortable feeling,' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I hated seeing those guys go through the rigors of some smaller injuries, but it is the nature of the season."

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HOUSTON -- With All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve (left shoulder) and outfielder George Springer (left hamstring) both returning to the lineup for Friday's series opener against the A's after battling nagging injuries all week, the Astros are close to full strength once again.

"Any time your best players can get back in the lineup, it's a good, comfortable feeling,' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I hated seeing those guys go through the rigors of some smaller injuries, but it is the nature of the season."

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Altuve was hitless in four at-bats and Springer was 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 9-4 win over the A's on Friday.

Some other players are on the mend as well:

• Outfielder Jake Marisnick, who left Sunday's game against the Rays iafter suffering a concussion slamming into the wall making a catch, said Friday he's 100 percent and optimistic he'll be activated on Monday. He was on the 7-day concussion disabled list.

"I've started hitting and everything feels fine," said Marisnick, who will likely go out on a Minor League rehab this weekend at Double-A Corpus Christi.

• Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised lower left leg suffered in Tuesday's collision with Altuve in Cleveland, says he feels he will be ready to play in games in a few days. Hernandez was called up to replace Marisnick and was promptly injured in his collison with Altuve.

"I'm not in any pain, but it's still tight," he said. "It's getting better and better every day," Hernandez said.

• Right-hander Jandel Gustave, on the 10-day disabled list since April 19 with right forearm tightness, threw in the bullpen Friday for the first time since going on the shelf. He's also likely headed for a Minor League rehab assignment soon.

"After the bullpen, we'll be able to assess a stronger timeline or plan," Hinch said.

• Right-hander David Paulino, who went on the disabled list at the end of spring with right arm inflammation, is scheduled to throw the first of likely two rehab outings at extended Spring Training in Florida early next week before being sent out to one of the Minor League affiliates.

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, Jose Altuve, George Springer