'Ready to contribute': Tucker returns from IL
HOUSTON -- Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker confirmed Tuesday he had tested positive for COVID-19, which was why he was placed on the injured list Aug. 14. Tucker was activated from the IL prior to Tuesday’s game against the Royals, but he wasn’t in the starting lineup.
Tucker, who is vaccinated, tested positive after hitting his first career grand slam Aug. 13 against the Angels in Anaheim, where he had to quarantine in a hotel room for several days before being allowed to travel to Houston. He wasn’t cleared to rejoin his teammates until Monday.
“I had to go through the protocols the league set up,” Tucker said. “I went through all that, did all the things I was supposed to do to get back here and playing. I’m here now.”
Tucker was hitting .272 with 22 homers and 71 RBIs for the Astros this year before testing positive. Jake Meyers started the first two games in right field (Aug. 14-15) with Tucker out, before switching to center field with Chas McCormick starting in right field. McCormick started five consecutive games in right field before injuring his hand, which landed him on the IL on Tuesday.
Tucker said he didn’t lose any weight while he was out and is ready to return to the starting lineup, which will likely happen Wednesday.
“I wasn’t here for roughly two weeks or so,” he said. “It was tough if we were losing games and I couldn’t contribute, and that kind of sucks, but I’m back here and ready to contribute and play the rest of the season now.”
McCormick, Báez land on injured list
With his ailing left hand not healing as quickly as he would have hoped, McCormick landed on the injured list Tuesday. McCormick is hopeful the hand will completely heal in a couple of days with some rest. The earliest he could be activated is Sept. 3 in San Diego.
McCormick, who played defense for two innings Sunday, took some swings in the cage Tuesday and continued to feel pain in his hand, which he hurt while swinging the bat Friday against the Mariners. McCormick said he suffered a similar injury in the Minor Leagues in 2019 and played through it. He says he tends to roll the wrist of his bottom hand when he gets fooled by a pitch or is late on a swing.
“It stinks, it’s frustrating, especially because I kind of felt like I was getting some good games under me, getting into some rhythm,” McCormick said. “I wanted to be out there. I know we have 30-something games left. I went in the cage and swung [the bat], and it didn’t feel that great. Now, I have a couple of more days. I’m hoping my hand is 100 percent in four or five days.”
Meanwhile, the Astros also placed right-hander pitcher Pedro Báez on the injured list Tuesday with a recurring shoulder injury (right-hander Bryan Abreu was called up from Triple-A). Báez spent most of the year on the IL following a positive COVID-19 test in the spring and a shoulder injury that apparently hasn’t healed.
Báez had appeared in four games this year, posting a 2.08 ERA, but his fastball velocity was down 3.4 mph, his offspeed pitches were down 2.9 mph, and his breaking pitches were down 3.3 mph from last year when he was with the Dodgers.