Astros face another hiccup in the infield

Prior to Friday’s victory over the Nationals, Astros’ second baseman Jose Altuve exited the contest early.

Through the applause for manger Dusty Baker’s managerial success and Yuli Gurriel’s breakout home run and no-look catch, Houston Astros‘ second baseman Jose Altuve departed Friday early as a “precaution” and is being further evaluated, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported.

Altuve slipped on the grass, showing discomfort walking around, and will not play Saturday which was already a planned off day. The 32-year-old sat on the injured list before the 11-game win streak with a left-hamstring strain.

Although Aledmys Diaz was battling minor fatigue, the utility infielder will be picking up more innings with Altuve sitting Saturday and no further reports on Jeremy Peña’s status from Thursday’s departure.

“Only God knows, as far as healing,” Baker said to reporters Friday regarding if Peña would play Saturday.

While the Astros’ starting rotation excels, more is known and unknown about its future.

Jake Odorizzi’s next start hasn’t been reported, while Baker mentioned the righty is “backed up a couple days.” Cristian Javier — Saturday’s starter — walked to the bullpen Friday and was available, but the righty is still slated to start the second game of the series.

For Lance McCullers Jr., the right-hander will throw flat ground for three games in a row for the first time this weekend, according to multiple reports. McCullers is sitting around 81 mph.

“Rehab, up to this point, is going as well as I could have hoped,” McCullers told The Juice Box Journal. “Follow up scans have come out completely clean and my rehab is going to start increasing. I am at 90 feet now and we will continue to increase throwing velocity until we feel ready for mound work. Hoping that is in the coming weeks.”

Regarding the roster, Ronel Blanco returned to Triple-A, while Seth Martinez remained on the taxi squad. The bullpen had a couple unavailable arms Friday in Phil Maton and Bryan Abreu, as an addition of fresh Blanco to the 26-man roster looked ideal for the weekend.