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Fowler enjoys return to Astros' starting lineup

Outfielder returns to normal leadoff spot after battle with stomach illness
Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler, who had been battling a stomach virus, returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday night for the first time in six games and made his presence felt out of the leadoff spot.

Fowler went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and made three putouts on defense in Houston's 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

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TORONTO -- Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler, who had been battling a stomach virus, returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday night for the first time in six games and made his presence felt out of the leadoff spot.

Fowler went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and made three putouts on defense in Houston's 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

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"My timing wasn't that bad, but I felt a little weak out there," said Fowler, who had trouble eating solid foods during his time off. "I'll take it day by day, but it's just a blessing to be able to get back out there."

Manager Bo Porter said Fowler's absence was felt, and it forced the skipper to juggle some things at the top of the order.

"It was great to get Dexter back in the lineup," Porter said. "Obviously, offensively, he was the catalyst at the top of our lineup."

Fowler did pinch-hit in Tuesday's 5-2 loss at Rogers Centre, but had missed the previous four games. Before Wednesday's game, Fowler was very eager to see a full game's worth of action.

"I'm not at 100 percent, but I'm ready to play," he said. "It's awesome to be back on the field, that's all you can ask for. That's what you're out here for, not to be sitting there sick."

The 28-year-old Fowler hit in the cages on Tuesday and participated in a full workout for the first time since becoming ill, but wasn't worried that the layoff would disrupt his timing at the plate. Neither was Porter.

"I think he's fine. Even [Tuesday] after he finished in the cage ... he was itching to get back in there," Porter said. "He came in today and said he is holding down food and there should be no restrictions."

Fowler, acquired in an offseason deal with the Rockies, is batting .438 with four extra-base hits over 16 at-bats.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Houston Astros, Dexter Fowler