8/12/2013 4:16 P.M. ET
After brief absence from thumb injury, Villar back
By Chris Abshire / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- While the Astros may have been down three starters on Monday, one full-timer returned to the order.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar was back in the finale against the Rangers following a four-game break as he dealt with a sprained left thumb.
Manager Bo Porter said the past two days were as much about facing a lefty, which would have required the switch-hitting rookie to bat right-handed. Villar said hitting from the right side was significantly more painful because of the pressure of the top hand on the injured thumb.
"We knew a few days ago that he'd have the last two days off, just because it affects him more when he swings right-handed and they had two lefties throwing," Porter said. "The plan was always to have him back today."
Villar injured the thumb sliding into third base during the fourth inning of Tuesday's 15-10 loss to Boston.
The Dominican Republic native pinch-ran and played the field for an inning during Saturday night's 5-4 loss to Texas.
Prior to the injury, Villar had played in 15 straight games since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, swiping 10 bases during that span.
"It's good to have Villar back, not just from a speed standpoint and the havoc and he can create on the basepaths, but his defense has been missed at shortstop as well," Porter said.
Villar's replacement at shortstop, Jake Elmore, committed an error in both Saturday and Sunday's games, with each leading to an unearned run.
Astros send veteran reliever Wright to Rays
HOUSTON -- The Astros continued their roster overhaul, trading veteran lefty Wesley Wright to Tampa Bay for cash considerations, the team announced on Monday.
Wright was called into manager Bo Porter's office by pitching coach Doug Brocail just prior to Monday's game, where general manager Jeff Luhnow delivered the news.
"I'm excited," Wright told MLB.com. "It's an opportunity to go pitch for a contending team and something I've always wanted to do, and to get this opportunity now is kind of shocking, but I'm also excited about it."
Taking Wright's roster spot is right-hander Philip Humber, who was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Wright was one of the lone veterans remaining in the youngest Major League clubhouse. The southpaw was the team's longest-tenured member, appearing in 71 games for the Astros in 2008 after they plucked him away from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft. He was also the team's second-highest paid player, meaning left-hander Erik Bedard is the only remaining player making more than $1 million ($1.15 million).
Over five years and 286 appearances, Wright compiled a 4.44 ERA with a 10-15 record and two saves. This season, Wright was, at the very least, a stable component of a shaky Houston bullpen, going 0-4 with a respectable 3.92 ERA in 41 1/3 innings.
"The organization has been great to me and my family throughout the past six seasons," Wright said. "They gave me an opportunity to see what I can do at the big league level. I'm really grateful for the organization and the fans and the city. They were really supportive to me and my teammates. Even in the down years, they supported me and all I can say is thanks to the city of Houston and the fans."
Humber will meet the Astros in Oakland for Tuesday night's series opener vs. the A's. The righty already spent the first month and a half of the season with the Astros, going 0-8 in seven starts (nine games) with a 9.59 ERA to earn a lengthy Minor League stint.
He seemed to straighten his game out with the Redhawks, posting a 2.38 ERA with two walks and 14 strikeouts over his last seven relief appearances.
Altuve, Castro rest in finale due to nagging injuries
HOUSTON -- Three Astros starters were not in the starting lineup for Monday's series finale against the Rangers, with two of them dealing with nagging injuries.
Second baseman Jose Altuve was scratched with a sore left quad, and catcher Jason Castro missed his second straight game as he deals with a bruised hip. Outfielder L.J. Hoes received the day off after starting 11 straight games since being traded to the Astros on July 31.
It's only the second time all season that neither Castro nor Altuve were in the Houston order, with the other instance occurring against Toronto in a 2-1 loss on July 28.
Castro's sore hip stems back to a play at the plate in the eighth inning of Saturday's game, when the Rangers' Alex Rios slid into him, dislodging the ball from Castro's glove for the go-ahead run.
"His hip is a little sore from the slide and crash at the plate the other day," said Houston manager Bo Porter. "It was sore yesterday. I talked to him today. It is much better, but at the same time, having a sore hip and trying to get back there and catch for nine innings isn't ideal. We feel like if he gets another day, he'll be much better and ready to go."
It's the first time all season Castro has missed consecutive games.
In Altuve's case, the off-day has been coming for some time, as he's been noticeably slowed by his left quad on and off for two weeks.
In the Texas series alone, Altuve was caught trying to score from second on a single during Saturday's game and was thrown out at third trying to stretch out a double in Sunday's contest.
"It's mentally him thinking that he's 100 percent when technically he's not," Porter said. "Going to ask him is probably not even an option anymore, because in his mind, he wants to play every day. From a manager's standpoint, you appreciate that.
"At the same time, there has to be some kind of balance and being honest about your body and how you're feeling. It's evident that he's not 100 percent. It's affected him running the bases and defensively. We're going to have to take it out of his hands and protect him from himself. He'll take some days off and DH some, and we'll monitor it from there."
Porter said a disabled-list stint is not even being considered for Altuve.
Crowe hitting well in rehab, but return unknown
HOUSTON -- Between the Justin Maxwell trade, L.J. Hoes' arrival, Jimmy Paredes' yo-yo act from the Minors to the Majors and J.D. Martinez's shoulder injury, the Houston outfield has been in flux lately.
Trevor Crowe wouldn't mind shaking it up again, as he continues to pound the ball during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Crowe sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder crashing into the wall against the Brewers on July 20, landing him on the 15-day disabled list.
He's missed a few more days than that, not even starting his Minor League rehab assignment until July 26.
"It was a tough injury from the standpoint that it's your throwing shoulder," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "That takes a little bit longer to heal, to do all the things you need to do as a baseball player. That shoulder is everything."
He's wasted no time getting back up to speed, hitting .388 with three RBIs, three steals and 11 runs scored during 13 games with the RedHawks.
So why is he still mired in the Minors, even as the Astros' lineup has been flooded with his fellow RedHawks over the past few weeks?
"We want to make sure his arm is built up to the point where he can play the field consistently," Porter said. "He suffered a pretty rough injury. From all reports, he is back playing, but you do want to make sure he can make all the necessary throws."
Crowe hit .200 with one home run, five RBIs and 10 runs scored over 34 games with the Astros during May and June.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.