5/23/2014 12:08 A.M. ET
Appel among pitchers progressing in farm system
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Several of the most promising arms in the Astros' system are making progress as they work their back into games. That list includes 2013 No. 1 pick Mark Appel, who's not injured but has been pitching at extended spring workouts for the past few weeks.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Appel, who started the season at Class A Lancaster, recently threw 60 pitches in a game and was averaging 95 mph on his fastball and touching 98. Luhnow said Appel will make one more start of five innings and 75 pitches before going back to Lancaster.
"We want to put him in a position to succeed, and I think Lancaster is a good spot for him," Luhnow said. "You could argue it's challenging for any pitcher to go to, but Double-A is a pretty tough place to go as well. I think he would be able to go to Lancaster and have success there and move on."
The Astros sent him to Florida to get into a better routine of pitching every five days after missing much of the spring following an appendectomy. He made four starts at Lancaster, allowing 17 hits and nine earned runs in 13 innings.
Meanwhile, right-hander Alex White began a rehab outing at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Making his first appearance coming back from Tommy John surgery, White retired the side in order in the eighth inning, using just nine pitches. Luhnow said he expects White to be in the Astros' bullpen soon.
"I still believe long term he's a starter for us, and next year he'll come to Spring Training preparing to be a starter, but for now, given that he is coming off the surgery and given that our need is primarily bullpen and our rotation has been solid, it's a good spot for him," he said.
Luhnow said White's fastball is between 90 and 92 mph, which means he's still a few ticks shy of where he was at prior to the surgery.
"We'll probably see that over the course of the summer," Luhnow said.
Veteran right-hander Jesse Crain (bursitis) threw in the bullpen Thursday in Florida and felt the best he's felt in a while, Luhnow said. If things continue to go well, he'll probably come to Houston next week and throw a simulated game.
Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski threw four innings in a rehab outing at Oklahoma City on Wednesday after dealing with a strained lat for more than three months.
Porter gives Springer night off after hip strain
SEATTLE -- Upon his arrival at Safeco Field on Thursday, Astros right fielder George Springer told manager Bo Porter he's ready to play. Alas, Springer, who strained his right hip flexor in the ninth inning Wednesday night in Anaheim, was held out of the lineup by Porter.
Springer said Thursday he's still sore but could play. He didn't take batting practice.
"I want to help contribute no matter what," he said. "I like playing every day. I'm an everyday kind of guy. If I'm not playing, it's tough. If he needs me, I'll get ready to go out and just try to help."
Porter typically errs on the side of caution and likes to give players an extra day when they say they're ready.
"He's much better, but we decided to give him a day," Porter said. "The injury happened [Wednesday] night and it's not something you want to risk any further damage. We're going to give him a day today, and [Friday] he'll come out and he'll run around."
Representing the tying run at first with one out in a 2-1 loss to the Angels, Springer's leg gave out on him as he tried to get back to the base as right-hander Jered Weaver made a quick -- and successful -- pickoff move.
"I woke up today happy, breathing, so I can play," Springer said.
Altuve on record error-free run at second base
SEATTLE -- It's been a solid first quarter of the season for Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who led off Thursday's game with a homer to left field on the first pitch. Altuve entered the night having not made an error in his previous 82 games, which is a franchise record for the position.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous record was held by Rafael Landestoy, who went 78 games in 1980 without an error. The last Major Leaguer with a longer streak was the Cubs' Darwin Barney, who went 141 games between errors while winning a Gold Glove Award in 2012.
"[Altuve] has really committed himself to being the best player he can be," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I'll continue to say this: He's playing the best baseball of his career. It's not by chance. When you take the conscious efforts he went through from the end of last season and into the offseason, and you look at the way he showed up for camp -- he lost 10 pounds and really got himself in shape and changed his eating diet -- and put forth the effort he put forth, it's good to see a guy get rewarded for that type of work.
"I could not be more proud of Jose for the success in which he's enjoying, and it's an example to other players what can happen when you commit yourself."
What makes Altuve's streak even more impressive is the fact he's often lined up in spots on the field that are not typical of second baseman because of the team's extensive use of infield shifts.
"Even when he's playing out in short right field or the defense dictates that's going to be somewhere other than the traditional second-base position, he's doing a great job of making the adjustments," Porter said.