Major League Baseball’s two Texas-based teams officially got the second half of the season underway Thursday. Led by another terrific performance from right-hander Lance Lynn, who struck out 11 in seven shutout innings, the Rangers coasted to a 5-0 victory over the Astros. Both teams’ rosters were missing some key components because of injuries. Here’s the latest on a handful of those players…
- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and infielder Aledmys Diaz could start rehab assignments next week, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. A fractured rib sent Correa to the injured list May 27, halting a great start to the season for the 24-year-old star. Diaz (left hamstring strain) went to the IL the same day as Correa. Their absences have had significant consequences for a few of the Astros’ other infielders. With neither Correa nor Diaz around to man short, the Astros have often turned to franchise third baseman Alex Bregman, leaving the hot corner for first baseman Yuli Gurriel and first for Tyler White.
- Speaking of Bregman, he departed in the third inning Thursday after a hard grounder off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo took an unkind hop and struck Bregman in the chin. Bregman left the field bloodied and received four stitches, manager A.J. Hinch said (via McTaggart). It’s unclear whether Bregman will sit out any time going forward. The club replaced him at short with Myles Straw.
- Rangers designated hitter/outfielder Hunter Pence restarted a rehab assignment at the Double-A level Thursday, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports. Pence played DH and will likely do the same Friday. After that, the Rangers hope to activate him over the weekend, per manager Chris Woodward. The 36-year-old Pence’s renaissance season came to a pause when he hit the IL on June 17 with a Grade 2 right groin strain. Pence then suffered a setback in his first rehab game July 1, causing the team to briefly shut him down.
- More from McTaggart, who writes that reliever Joe Smith could rejoin the Astros’ bullpen as early as Sunday if he doesn’t incur any setbacks in the meantime. The 35-year-old right-hander has spent the past several months working back from the ruptured left Achilles tendon he suffered in a December workout. Smith, who’s in the last season of a two-year, $15MM contract, logged a 3.74 ERA with 9.07 K/9 and 2.36 BB/9 across 45 2/3 innings in 2018.