Tuesday roundup: injury updates, Barmes schedule and images from Dog Day at the ballpark.
We begin today with three injury updates:
Alberto Arias, pitching in Extended Spring, had what they’re categorizing as a setback — meaning, the soreness in his shoulder isn’t going away, so they’re sending him back to Houston to be looked at by team physician David Lintner. Arias will fly to Houston Wednesday for a Thursday appointment.
Jeff Keppinger, who has also been in Extended since Spring Training ended, will appear in a game on Friday as the designated hitter. Keppinger, who missed chunks of last season with a toe issue, had left foot surgery during the offseason.
Clint Barmes, who fractured his left hand toward the end of Spring Training, is the closest of the three to returning to the field. The shortstop hit soft tosses on Tuesday with no pain, and he could leave on a rehab assignment while the Astros are in Milwaukee this weekend.
Friday will be the four-week mark since Barmes broke his hand during a spring game against the Yankees. That day appears to be decision day: If the fracture looks like it’s completely healed by then, they’ll move toward working out a rehab schedule.
Barmes will likely need a minimum of 10 to 12 Minor League at-bats, and possibly more, depending on how he responds.
The Astros will have decisions to make, obviously, when it’s time for Barmes and Keppinger to come off the DL. Barmes’ role on the team, to me, is much more defined than Keppinger’s, even though neither has appeared in a regular season game yet this year.
The Astros traded for Barmes with the mindset that he will be their everyday shortstop, and I believe that’s exactly how he’ll be slotted in when he’s ready to join the team. Angel Sanchez has played well in Barmes’ absence and his offense has been a bright spot through the team’s disappointing start. But Barmes is the stronger defender of the two, has better range and is faster. Those qualities probably give him an edge.
Plus, it’s highly unusual for a player to lose his starting job because of an injury and I do not foresee Barmes being the exception to that rule.
As for Keppinger, his role, and his return date, are still to be determined. Keep in mind that the Astros signed Bill Hall before Keppinger’s injury, not because of it. The Astros were looking for more offensive production up the middle after receiving virtually no power from Tommy Manzella and Keppinger last year. They replaced them with Barmes and Hall. Should Hall continue to struggle offensively, that might mean more playing time for Keppinger. These are
questions that are impossible to answer now, considering Keppinger is still a ways away from returning and Hall could go on a tear at any point. Stay tuned.
From the photo archives: Dog Day at Minute Maid Park always creates a delightful spectacle, and last Sunday was no exception. The pregame Pooch Parade drew more than 600 dogs and their owners, and truly, you have to experience one of these to really understand how hilarious it is. Not just because of the volume of dogs that are on the field at once, but also because of the funny outfits their owners dress them in for the occasion.
Astros fans weren’t the only participants this time — a few players joined in, too. Mark Melancon, Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace had their dogs to the park for the celebration as well: