The Astros are providing fully furnished apartments to all of their minor leaguers across all levels for the 2021 season, reports Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic. Housing for minor leaguers has been complicated due to Covid-19 regulations, as host families are not allowed this season and there are restrictions on how many players can live in a given apartment. Minor league salaries are generally scant enough that it’s common for several teammates to crowd into a one- or two-bedroom apartment in order to save on rent and cover other basic expenses. It’s a commitment we’ve not previously seen an organization make for its minor league talent, most of whom receive much smaller bonuses than the six- or even seven-figure numbers that frequent the top end of each summer’s draft. It’s not known whether this will be a permanent commitment from the ’Stros, nor is it clear whether other organizations might adopt a similar approach now or in the future.
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- Southpaw Framber Valdez got through a 25-pitch bullpen session unscathed on Friday and will start a Triple-A rehab assignment on Sunday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com was among those to report. Valdez will throw three innings in that game. Expectations are that he’ll rejoin the Astros’ rotation in June, which Valdez called a “miracle.” After all, there was fear back in the spring that Valdez’s broken left ring finger would require surgery and prevent him from pitching this year. “It was a bad injury, a break to the finger,” said Valdez, who was able to avoid going under the knife. When the 27-year-old does come back, he’ll work to build on an impressive 2020 in which he turned in 70 2/3 innings of 3.57 ERA/3.23 SIERA ball with great strikeout (26.4), walk (5.6) and groundball (60.0) percentages.
- Right-hander Jose Urquidy exited his start on Wednesday against the Angels in the fourth inning with shoulder discomfort, and it’s possible the issue will shelve him for a bit. Manager Dusty Baker told Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle and other reporters Friday that an MRI on Urquidy’s shoulder didn’t “show anything significant,” but said today (to FOX 26’s Mark Berman and others) that Urquidy will miss his next scheduled start on Tuesday. Urquidy shut out the Angels over 3 2/3 innings, continuing a nice start to 2021 for the 26-year-old. He has totaled 44 2/3 frames across eight starts and recorded a 3.22 ERA (with a less shiny 4.56 SIERA) and an 18.6 percent strikeout rate against a terrific 5.1 percent walk rate.