Alex Bregman hasn’t played in a big league game since June 16, and it remains unclear as to when the Astros third baseman will return from the left quad strain that has waylaid his season. In an interview today with radio host Robert Ford (hat tip to Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle), Astros GM James Click indicated that Bregman wouldn’t be returning to his minor league rehab assignment in the near future.
“We determined that the best course of action was to do a lot of work that didn’t involve playing in games,” Click said. “Right now we’re making sure he’s good to go at full speed with his legs fully underneath him. Once we feel like that’s been accomplished we’ll move onto hitting.”
It seemed like Bregman was on the verge of a return just one week ago, as he left his Triple-A rehab assignment to rejoin the Astros in Houston. However, rather than reinstatement from the 60-day injured list, Bregman has continued to sit out as all parties weigh his next course of action. Bregman has continued to work out with the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters, posting this video today (via his Twitter feed) of a running drill.
As per the rules of injured list placements, minor league rehab assignments must be completed in less than 20 days or else the player must sit out five days before restarting the assignment. That five-day window has since elapsed and Bregman has yet to resume playing for the Skeeters.
With this much uncertainty surrounding even Bregman’s minor league work, it is anyone’s guess as to when he might finally get back on the field with the Astros. Click didn’t hint at a projection, saying “unfortunately a lot of it is let’s test today, test tomorrow, test the next day and see how everything responds. And we don’t see a timeframe until we see how his body responds to the tests over the next couple days.”
The Astros have remained in first place in the AL West even without Bregman for all but 59 games of the season, as he also missed time on the COVID-19 list in April. Since returning from his own IL stint, Aledmys Diaz has been on a tear at the plate and has assumed most of the everyday third base duties. That said, Houston is absolutely a better team with Bregman back in the mix, and the Astros may need all the help they can get to hold off the streaking Athletics for the division lead.
Kyle Tucker also won’t be available for at least a week, as manager Dusty Baker told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and other reporters. Tucker was placed on the injured list yesterday for undisclosed health/safety protocol reasons, which would seem to imply some connection to COVID-19.