Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, on the injured list since May 11, will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle relays. The Astros are “hoping” to get Altuve back by Wednesday, their last contest before a seven-game road trip, general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
Altuve has missed the Astros’ past 13 games because of a left hamstring strain, making this just the second IL trip since his glorious career began in 2011. Although Altuve has been a linchpin in Houston throughout his big league tenure, the club has rolled to a 10-3 record without him to gain an even greater stranglehold on the American League West. Their success has come thanks in part to second base reserve Aledmys Diaz, who has enjoyed a well-timed hot streak in Altuve’s absence.
While Diaz has filled in with aplomb for Altuve, the latter’s return will make the juggernaut Astros that much stronger. The 29-year-old Altuve wasn’t as excellent as usual prior to landing on the shelf, but he still hit a respectable .243/.329/.472 (117 wRC+) with nine home runs and 18 walks against 25 strikeouts in 164 trips to the plate. A .234 batting average on balls in play, down 108 points from Altuve’s career mark (.338), has helped drag down the six-time All-Star’s numbers thus far.