Springer, Altuve, McHugh Close to Return for Astros

George Springer (left) and Jose Altuve may be back from the IL sooner rather than later.
George Springer (left) and Jose Altuve may be back from the IL sooner rather than later. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros remain one of the best teams in baseball despite an extended stretch of games without three of their best position players, their backup catcher and one of their starting pitchers. But, there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel.

George Springer was shagging fly balls in center field at Minute Maid Park before Sunday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Word is he will go with the team to Cincinnati and could join Jose Altuve, Colin McHugh and Max Stassi at Triple A Round Rock for a rehab stint later in the week.

Altuve appears to be making excellent progress and could be back on the major league roster this week. McHugh has been throwing with no pain, but needs to go through a rehab start before returning. Finally, Stassi appears to be on the mend from his knee injury and is scheduled for a stretch at Round Rock this week as well.

That puts all of them on track to return sometime in the next two weeks.

Carlos Correa, who got a cracked rib from a massage, still needs a little more time to heal before getting back on the field. His projected return date is right around the All-Star break in early July, which seems reasonable given his initial diagnosis.

Even with so many key players on the shelf, the Astros have weathered the storm with young players including phenom Yourdan Alvarez, who has four home runs in his first six games in the big leagues. While his spot in the lineup will be safe when the team is whole again, guys like Garrett Stubbs and Jack Mayfield will likely be headed back to the minors.

There is a decent chance Tyler White might have to be designated for assignment as well to open enough roster spots.

For now, the Astros continue to win series after series without their star talent, but they will only get better once they return.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke