TODAY: As expected, Altuve is now active and in the ’Stros lineup. Southpaw Cionel Perez was optioned out to make way.
YESTERDAY: Already in possession of a 48-25 record and an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West, key reinforcements are on the way for the Astros. Second baseman Jose Altuve is set to return from the injured list Wednesday, while outfielder George Springer will embark on a rehab assignment Thursday at the Double-A level, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle was among those to report (Twitter links).
Altuve last played May 10, when he went to the IL with a left hamstring strain. The Astros then sent Altuve on a rehab stint, but he suffered a late-May setback in his right leg – on which he underwent surgery last offseason – which caused the team to shut him down. Adding to Houston’s problems, Altuve’s immediate replacement, Aledmys Diaz, hasn’t played since May 26 on account of his own left hamstring strain.
The injuries to Altuve and Diaz have left the Astros’ second base position to Tony Kemp and Jack Mayfield. Kemp has logged playable production this season, but Mayfield has struggled. Neither player has come close to approaching Altuve’s numbers. Even though this has been a down season for Altuve, a six-time All-Star and former AL MVP, he has still batted .243/.329/.472 (117 wRC+) with nine home runs in 164 plate appearances.
No Astro has been more effective on a per-PA basis this season than Springer, who slashed .308/.389/.643 (172 wRC+) with 17 HRs in 216 tries before a left hamstring strain took him down May 25. Springer divided his season between center and right field before then. For the most part, Jake Marisnick and Josh Reddick have handled those positions in Springer’s absence, though both players’ numbers have dropped since hot starts.