HOUSTON -- The Astros welcomed first baseman Yuli Gurriel to the lineup for the first time this season for Friday's series opener against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Gurriel hit fifth and played first base, going 1-for-4 in the Astros' 3-2 win.Gurriel, who caught the final out of the
HOUSTON -- The Astros welcomed first baseman Yuli Gurriel to the lineup for the first time this season for Friday's series opener against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Gurriel hit fifth and played first base, going 1-for-4 in the Astros' 3-2 win.
Gurriel, who caught the final out of the World Series at first base, was suspended for the first five games of the season before spending 10 days on the disabled list following Feb. 28 surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand.
"I felt like I wanted to jump into the TV and get onto the field, into the games," Gurriel said of watching the Astros play the first 13 games of the season without him. "I'm feeling close to 100 percent, and I'm ready to contribute to this team."
Gurriel hit .299 with 43 doubles, 18 homers and 75 RBIs and will provide a huge boost to the lineup.
"It's good to have our whole group back, and Yuli always brings a little bit of life to the party and certainly will bring good at-bats to the lineup," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It makes the lineup the best we can have, just a guy we can throw in there every day who can put up some good at-bats."
The return of Gurriel allows Hinch the luxury of moving Marwin Gonzalez around the field more without the need of having him play first base.
"I'm very happy to be here with them," said Gurriel, who hit .429 during a five-game rehab stint at Double-A Corpus Christi.
To make room for Gurriel, the Astros on Thursday optioned J.D. Davis to Triple-A Fresno. Davis had a terrific spring and made his first Opening Day roster. He started 1-for-14 at the plate before going 5-for-10 in the series at Minnesota that ended Wednesday.
"He was as hot as can be coming out of the spring, and it didn't carry over to the first week of the season, and as soon as you start talking about who you're going to send down, it always happens in baseball when guys start to go off and do well," Hinch said. "J.D. did that in Minnesota."
Skipper's thoughts with Flores
Hinch took some time Friday to send well wishes to Houston police officer Jerry Flores, who handles team security. Flores suffered a serious head injury in a golf cart accident Thursday while at a charity golf event in Houston. According to a tweet by the Houston Police Officer's Union, Flores is in intensive care.
Hinch said Flores was in charge of his family's security during the playoffs, and Flores has traveled with the club to road games in the past. Astros president Reid Ryan presented Flores with a World Series championship ring last week.
"He's around our club a lot," Hinch said. "We gave him a ring last week to thank him for all his work. He personally was in charge of my family during the playoffs in keeping them safe on the road. Tragic news to wake up to this morning that he's fighting for his life. I hope the whole city of Houston can keep him in their thoughts and prayers, along with others that fight for our safety. They need their safety, too."
Odds and ends
• Gurriel and relief pitcher James Hoyt, who joined the team in Minnesota this week when Tony Sipp went on the disabled list, received their World Series championship rings in a pregame ceremony Friday. Rangers catcher Juan Centeno, who appeared in 22 regular-season games for the Astros last year and was on their playoff roster, received his ring as well.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.