Astros’ brass met with reporters (including Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and Jake Kaplan of the Athletic) in recent days and provided updates on a host of sidelined pitchers. Righty Jake Odorizzi will make his regular-season debut sometime during the team’s initial homestand, which runs from April 8-14. The Astros inked Odorizzi to a two-year, $23MM guarantee in free agency, but he’s behind the 8-ball after sitting on the open market until earlier this month.
The Odorizzi signing came on the heels of Framber Valdez’s fractured finger early in Spring Training. At the time, there had been fear the left-hander would require surgery and miss the entire season. Valdez is attempting to rehab the injury without going under the knife, and it seems the early returns are positive. Pitching coach Brent Strom called the latest reports on Valdez’s health “very, very exciting and very good,” although the Astros have yet to provide word on a potential target date for his return.
Houston is also without a few key relievers due to health situations. Righty Pedro Báez – like Odorizzi, one of Houston’s offseason additions – won’t be ready for major league action for at least the first couple weeks of the season. The team hopes he’ll be back on the mound in late April. Báez, whom the Astros signed to a two-year, $12.5MM guarantee, has been on the COVID-19 injured list for three weeks. Fellow right-hander Andre Scrubb is looking at a mid-April return after leaving a recent Cactus League game with shoulder soreness.
Another righty, Josh James, is targeting late May or early June for a return of his own. The 28-year-old underwent surgery to repair a labral tear in his left hip at the end of last October. The procedure initially came with a six-to-eight month recovery timetable, so it seems James is right on schedule.