8/9/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Presley moves closer to rehab assignment
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- For the first time since he injured his oblique swinging the bat a month ago, outfielder Alex Presley took normal batting practice on the field prior to Saturday's game and appears close to beginning a rehab assignment.
"Things went fairly well today, so I'm encouraged," he said.
Presley said he felt a little soreness in the area of the strain, but chalked it up more to inactivity than any sort of setback. The biggest development for Presley was he was able to do his regular baseball drills without incident.
"It's just getting on the field and actually being in the stadium," he said. "You get a little more juiced when you're out in the field. Sometimes you may try to swing harder in certain situations and see what you can do. The intensity will be up, but so far it's pretty normal."
Presley said he hadn't been given any timetable, but it appears he could go on a Minor League rehab in the next couple of days.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there," he said. "It's been a while."
Presley had played his way into a starting role before he got injured swinging the bat June 7 in Arlington. He was hitting .342 with two homers and five RBIs in his 11 games prior to the injury.
Altuve takes extra day to rest sore neck
HOUSTON -- In the past, when All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve has been dealing with a nagging injury, he's not been shy about lobbying manager Bo Porter to let him play before Porter was ready to let him play.
Altuve, who left Friday's game after five innings with neck discomfort, wasn't about to do that Saturday. After he missed a game with an oblique injury in mid-June and pleaded with Porter to let him in the lineup, he returned to action, was hit in the hand by a pitch and missed a couple of more games.
So the fact the Major League's hits leader was out of the lineup Saturday against the Rangers wasn't a point of contention for Altuve.
"They just told me to sit the bench today and I'm going to be ready to pinch-hit and pinch-run," he said.
Altuve said he wasn't quite 100 percent, but he felt much better Saturday.
"They said tomorrow I might be 100 percent if I take the day off today," he said.
Saturday marked only the fifth game this year Altuve wasn't in the lineup.
"Obviously, he's a little sore from the discomfort, but he's actually better than he was last night, so we're going to give him the day and hopefully by tomorrow it's behind him," Porter said.
Springer's return still a mystery
HOUSTON -- When will George Springer be activated from the disabled list? That remains a mystery. Springer, who tweaked his injured left quad during a Minor League rehab assignment earlier this week, took batting practice on the field prior to Saturday's game.
The rookie, who has 20 homers and 51 RBIs in 78 games in his Major League debut this year, has been on the disabled list since July 20.
"We'll re-evaluate him tomorrow," manager Bo Porter said. "It depends on how it goes today. We'll see."
Springer seemed to indicate the quad is going to have to be 100 percent before he gets back on the field in a Major League setting because he's going to play the game hard. The rookie outfielder pushed it a little too hard in his third game for Class A Quad Cities on Wednesday, so he's not about to do that again.
"My speed is my game and it's hard not to have that, so it's one of those things you just to be smart and go whenever I can go," he said. "The ultimate goal is to be 100 percent, so hopefully I can get back out there soon."
Fowler's return could happen any day
HOUSTON -- Veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler could return to the Astros' lineup any day.
Astros manager Bo Porter said Saturday that Fowler was scheduled to have four at-bats as designated hitter in his second game on rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was 2-for-3 with an RBI in his first game on Friday against Iowa.
"He was fine," Porter said.
Fowler has been on the disabled list since June 27 with a strained right intercostal muscle. Expect him to play at least one game in the field for Oklahoma City before being activated, but that could happen as soon as Monday.
"When you play and you're playing consecutive days and we don't have any ill effects from what put you on the disabled list, you're ready to go," Porter said. "He's not down there to prove he can hit. He's down there to prove he's healthy."
Fowler, in his first season in Houston, was hitting .270 with six homers and 24 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage.