7/29/2014 7:51 P.M. ET
Astros starters bracing for possible trades
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Since the Astros made it known on Monday they were willing to trade one of their starting pitchers, the team has seen an increase in the number of phone calls from teams interested in starters Scott Feldman, Collin McHugh, Dallas Keuchel, Jarred Cosart and Brett Oberholtzer. The club is also dangling Brad Peacock, who's pitching in Triple-A.
The goal is to add some punch to an offense that has struggled recently, especially with George Springer and Deter Fowler on the disabled list. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is Thursday, and it's possible the Astros could still make a deal.
The fact the Astros are shopping starting pitchers isn't lost on the starters themselves.
"I've heard some stuff," Keuchel said. "It doesn't really affect me because my job is to go out there and pitch, and whether or not I'm with the Astros or somebody else, we'll see. That means another team likes you. I don't know who it is, if it's me or Cosart or McHugh or someone like Feldman. My job is to out there and pitch. That's all I'm going to focus on doing."
Keuchel, 26, is under club control through 2018. McHugh, 27, and Cosart, 24, are controlled through 2019. Feldman signed a three-year, $30-million contract, so he might be more difficult to move.
"I know the business of it," said Cosart, who was acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal in 2011. "If it's in the cards, it's in the cards. I know they're looking for bats to help. Being traded is not a bad thing. I've been traded before. A lot of these guys here have been traded before. I'm from here and like playing here, but the bottom line it's a business and you really have no control.
"If it happens, I'd thank the Astros for everything they've done for me. I'd have nothing against them if it did happen."
McHugh was traded from the Mets to the Rockies last June and was claimed off waivers by the Astros in December, so changing uniforms is nothing new.
"I know it's part of the game and those things happen," McHugh said. "There's not a whole lot of control you can have over it. None us have no-trade clauses. I think, in the long run, all of us want to be here. We've had a good thing going here and good guys in the clubhouse, so whatever happens is going to happen. You don't trouble yourself with it."
Springer takes BP as rookie nears return from DL
HOUSTON -- Rookie outfielder George Springer, who hasn't played since July 19 because of a left quad strain, took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since he was injured.
Springer could be activated when the team opens a three-game series at Philadelphia next Tuesday, but that's probably a little optimistic, considering he still needs to go on a rehab assignment.
Springer was pleased to being able to get on the field, but knows he's got to be smart.
"It's tough," Springer said. "I want to be out here. I want to help these guys and help the Astros and I've just got to get healthy and get in there. The goal is to get back out here as soon as you can."
Astros manager Bo Porter said Springer has increased his activity every day.
"[Monday] he was able to throw and do a little shagging [in the outfield]," Porter said. "He's been hitting in the cage, and he's going to continue to hit. It seems like he's progressing well."
The Astros have definitely missed Springer's production. He had 20 homers and 49 RBIs in just 91 games since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma in the middle of April. Most of those totals came from the start of May onward.
Springer went on the DL a couple of weeks after starting center Dexter Fowler was disabled with a strained intercostal muscle, meaning Springer moved to center field from right. Enrique Hernandez, an infielder by trade, has been handling the job in center, so Springer's return should impact the team defensively, as well.
"I'm extremely excited," Porter said. "We kind of knew that the rest was going to get him back to a full bill of health. I think the time off was really good for him and he should come back and be ready to go the rest of the year."
Albers to get back on mound Friday
HOUSTON -- Astros relief pitcher Matt Albers hopes to take a step forward in his long recovery from should tendinitis by throwing off a mound on Friday. Albers has been on the disabled list since April 22.
"I've been feeling pretty good," Albers said. "I think I felt pretty good a couple of times and then when I got off the mound, I had a setback. Hopefully, this time we're making sure I stretch it out and get some extra throwing in before I get back off the mound, but it's feeling pretty good right now."
Albers is just trying to stay optimistic and doesn't want to think about what another setback could mean for him with only two months remaining in the season.
"There's a couple of months left, so there's still time to come back and help the team," he said. "I'm trying to make sure I'm good and ready when I get back and not have another setback."
Albers said he won't be able to push himself too much when he's on the mound Friday, maybe throwing at 70-75 percent intensity.
"I've felt pretty good a couple of times and hit a wall," he said. "That's been a little frustrating, feeling like I'm actually coming back and being closer and having another setback. I'm trying to do everything I can just to get back."
• Right-hander Josh Zeid was examined by a foot specialist on Tuesday in Houston and still awaiting results. Zeid is hoping to avoid surgery after he was placed on the disabled list with bilateral sesamoiditis on Friday.