Houston Astros players Jose Urquidy and Aledmys Diaz are getting close to returning.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker spoke to the media prior to Friday’s game and gave us a slew of injury updates on the many players who are currently on the shelf. The most noteworthy pieces are that Jose Urquidy and Aledmys Diaz are getting close to returning, while Alex Bregman is starting to work his way back.
With regard to Bregman, he is currently at the team’s alternate training site in Corpus Christ as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Baker said Bregman was doing some running and looked good, so it looks like things are progressing well for the MVP runner-up to return at some point in September.
Diaz has not played since Opening Day due to a groin injury, but he could be back as soon as today. His return would be a nice boost to the Astros lineup in Bregman’s absence, as Diaz would likely take most of the at-bats at third base. He hit .271/.356/.467 in 69 games last season, which is a definite improvement over Abraham Toro and Jack Mayfield.
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Urquidy recently had a 50-pitch outing in Corpus Christi, and Baker said he’s about 10 days away from returning. The pitch count indicates the team appears to be preparing him to enter the rotation when he’s activated, so it looks like he may end up replacing the struggling Brandon Bielak.
Getting Urquidy back in the rotation will be a shot in the arm for this pitching staff. The last time he started a game, he tossed five scoreless innings in the World Series, so he should improve a rotation that’s been surprisingly effective but hasn’t been without its warts.
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Baker also noted that Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski have been throwing, so they’re both presumably fairly close to returning. A healthy Peacock would be a great presence in the team’s scuffling bullpen, and if Devenski can put his struggles behind him, suddenly things look much better in the later innings.
Justin Verlander, however, may not be back any time soon. Baker said the ace is “a little further away than we would like, but he’s closer to reality than it appeared like when he first went down.” There’s less than a month remaining in the regular season, so he doesn’t have a great deal of time if his goal is to pitch again this year.
I noted recently that Verlander could pitch out of the bullpen and even be the closer for the Astros down the stretch, and if he’s running out of time to build up his arm to start, that may be the best option. But I would imagine it’ll be at least a couple more weeks before we know anything more on that front.