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Astros: Player, manager Art Howe recovering from COVID-19

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1989: Manager Art Howe #18 of the Houston Astros looks on during an Major League Baseball game circa 1989. Howe managed the Astros from 1989-93. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1989: Manager Art Howe #18 of the Houston Astros looks on during an Major League Baseball game circa 1989. Howe managed the Astros from 1989-93. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Former Houston Astros player and manager Art Howe is recovering from the coronavirus.

The Houston Astros finally got some good news on Sunday as former player and manager Art Howe was released from a Houston hospital after spending a few days in intensive care. He began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms more than two weeks ago and did not improve despite being isolated.

Howe, 73, isn’t out of the woods yet, as he’ll still be isolated for at least another two weeks at home as he attempts to beat the virus completely. But getting to go back home is a good sign for the longtime player and manager and shows he’s on the mend.

“It was just a long five days or so,” Howe told MLB.com‘s Brian McTaggart. “I’m finally feeling a little bit better. Still not able to eat real good, taste buds are giving me a hard time. It’s just nice to be back home and hopefully continue to progress.”

The Astros certainly needed some good news after dealing with the losses of two franchise icons in the past two months. Jimmy Wynn died on March 26, and Bob Watson passed away just last week.

Great Baseball Career

Howe had an unspectacular start to his playing career, breaking into the league at age 27 and hitting .195/.273/.291 in his first two seasons with the Pirates. He was traded to the Astros in Jan. 1976 and hit only .138 in 21 games that year, but things would turn around quickly.

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From 1977 to 1982, Howe was basically an everyday player and played all over the infield. He compiled a .269/.337/.394 batting line in his seven seasons in Houston, hitting over .290 in two separate seasons and even garnering some MVP consideration in 1981. He played two more seasons with the Cardinals at the end of his career.

After he spent a few years on the Rangers coaching staff, Howe was hired to be the Astros manager prior to the 1989 season, succeeding Hal Lanier. The team won 86 games his first year, but never reached that mark in the next four seasons as the front office rebuilt around young players like Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti and Jeff Bagwell. The team replaced him with Terry Collins prior to the 1994 season as Howe finished with a 392-418 record as Astros skipper.

Howe was hired to manage the Oakland Athletics prior to the 1996 season, and though he had losing records his first three years, his next four were much more successful. The Moneyball-era A’s made the playoffs in three straight years from 2000-2002 but failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

He was portrayed rather negatively in the film “Moneyball” as a stubborn, old-school placeholder while GM Billy Beane ran the show. Howe took exception to this portrayal, and indeed his reputation in the game of baseball is much better than the film would indicate.

Howe left Oakland for the New York Mets after the 2002 season but lasted only two years in Queens, compiling a 137-186 record. He last served as bench coach with the Rangers under Ron Washington in 2007 and 2008. His career managerial record is 1129-1137 with two division titles and three playoff appearances.

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Still, Howe forged a career that saw him in a major league dugout for more than three decades. He was the first major league manager for guys like Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez and Darryl Kile. It’s good to see that he’s improving and best wishes as he continues his recovery.

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