8/10/2014 4:23 P.M. ET
Grossman showing flashes of strong 2013 finish
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Robbie Grossman once again looks like the guy who played so well in the final 2 1/2 months of last season. He's been doing his homework on the opposing pitchers and being selective about the pitches he swings at, and it's paying off.
Grossman reached base in eight of nine plate appearances against the Rangers on Friday and Saturday, hitting .800 (4-for-5) in that span. He has hit .458 (11-for-24) with three, eight runs, seven RBIs and a 1.510 OPS against the Rangers this season prior to Sunday.
"I feel like I just put some good at-bats together and whatever I can do to help the team is my highest priority," he said.
Grossman, the team's Opening Day left fielder who's been sent to the Minor Leagues twice this year, hit .322 with an .816 OPS in his final 35 games of last season after getting recalled in July, including a 14-game hitting streak last August.
"Robbie's been swinging the bat well and has had great at-bats, and it reminds us of how well he played in the stretch last year, and we're hoping he can continue that and continue to perform the way he's been performing," manager Bo Porter said.
Grossman remained in the leadoff spot Sunday with the return of Jose Altuve, who had batted leadoff for 37 consecutive games before sitting out Saturday with a sore neck.
"That's where I'm most comfortable," he said. "It's where I spent my whole career is leadoff. It's what I know and do the best I can."
Altuve returns to lineup after sitting with sore neck
HOUSTON -- All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve returned to the Astros lineup Sunday, batting second behind Robbie Grossman. Altuve sat out Saturday's game after he was removed in the fifth inning Friday with what was described as neck discomfort.
"I think he's close enough," manager Bo Porter said. "Altuve wants to play and when the trainers said it's OK, he's going to be in the lineup. Yesterday he came back and was better than he was when it first happened, but for precautionary reasons we felt like we'll give him an extra day. Today he is much better than he was yesterday."
Even sitting out one game, Altuve moved back into the lead in the American League batting race, hitting .333 entering Sunday despite an 0-for-9 slump. He also leads the Majors in hits (158) and multi-hit games (48) and leads the AL in stolen bases with 45.
Altuve was hitting second Sunday for the first time since June 26, when lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler got injured. He had batted leadoff in the 37 games prior to Saturday when he sat out.
"It really doesn't matter where the guys hits," Porter said. "He's going to hit."
Springer eager to return to action
HOUSTON -- The frustration continues to mount for injured rookie outfielder George Springer, who took to cracking a joke about being more concerned about the sore thumbs of outfielder Jake Marisnick than he is about his own health.
It's still unclear when Springer will be activated from the disabled list. He returned Thursday from a three-game rehab stint at Class A Quad Cities in which he tweaked his strained left quad running the bases and suffered a setback.
"I want to play," he said. "It's tough to just sit here. Your health is obviously more important. I've got to show that I can get healthy and hopefully get back out there."
Springer is taking batting practice, but he said the issue at this point is making sure he won't reinjure the quad when he gets to game speed, which can't be simulated. Thus, he's taking it slow.
"I have to be smart about it," he said.
Springer said he didn't know if he would have to be sent back out on another Minor League rehab assignment to prove he's healthy enough to play at the Major League level.
"If that's what it takes to make sure I'm OK, that's what I'll have to do," he said.
Astros manager Bo Porter said he's not concerned Springer isn't yet playing.
"He has some discomfort and we're just going to have to weigh all the options and just continue to monitor him as we move forward," he said. "Let him continue with the course in which the trainers are taking, and if this becomes something of more length, we'll revisit [a Minor League rehab assignment] at that time."
Santana waits for his opportunity
HOUSTON -- Astros rookie outfielder Domingo Santana has had one plate appearance entering Sunday since being recalled a week ago to replace the injured Jesus Guzman, walking as a pinch-hitter on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Santana went 0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts in his debut in July and was promptly sent back down, and it's clear he'll likely be the odd man out when the first injured outfielder from among the trio of Dexter Fowler, Alex Presley or George Springer is activated.
"Even when he came, it was more of we were going to a National League ballpark and Guzman was down and you just don't want to play short going into a National League ballpark where there's double switches," manager Bo Porter said. "You end up with a short bench early in the game and now offensively you mount a comeback and you shoot yourself in the foot because you don't have that extra guy. When you have guys in which you want to continue to see and play well, there's no place for him to play."
Jake Marisnick, acquired in a trade with the Marlins earlier this month, is starting in center field while Dexter Fowler recovers from an injury, and Robbie Grossman has been an on-base machine the last few days. Marc Krauss has hit safely in nine of 12 starts since being recalled July 23.
Hamilton inducted into Iowa Sports Hall of Fame
HOUSTON -- Astros Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton has been inducted into the Des Moines Sunday Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.
Hamilton, who grew up in Fairfield, Iowa, is the 215th inductee into this Hall of Fame as he joins the likes of Major League Baseball great Bob Feller, Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, former NFL greats Alex Karras, Emlen Tunnell, Roger Craig and Kurt Warner and legendary University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry.
"Being from your state and being honored, it's very special and very humbling," Hamilton said. "When the state you were born, raised and went to University of Iowa, when that paper puts you in the Hall of Fame, that's special."
This marks the sixth Hall of Fame honor for Hamilton, whose 59 seasons as a Major League broadcaster are second all-time to Vin Scully's record of 65 seasons in the booth. Hamilton served as the radio voice of the Houston Astros from 1985-2012, and in that span, called some of the greatest moments in franchise history.
"Congratulations to Milo on another well-deserved honor," said Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan in a statement. "He truly is a broadcasting icon that has been a part of Astros baseball for decades. This is another fitting honor for one of baseball's broadcasting greats."
Hamilton is best-known for his radio call of Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run on April 8, 1974, while serving as the Atlanta Braves' play-by-play announcer. Hamilton and Aaron have a special bond that remains today. When the Astros honored Hamilton's career with a special night in 2012, Aaron made the trip to Houston to speak at the event.
Other highlights from Hamilton's illustrious career include calling 11 no-hitters, Nolan Ryan's 4,000th career strikeout and Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit. In addition to the Astros and Braves, Hamilton also had stints with the Pirates, including their 1979 World Championship season, and with the White Sox, Cubs and Cardinals.
In 1992, Hamilton received the industry's highest honor, receiving the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2009, in honor of his 25th season in Houston, a street outside Minute Maid Park was renamed Milo Hamilton Way. Later that year, Hamilton was named "King of Baseball" by Minor League Baseball at the annual MLB Winter Meetings.
• Outfielder Dexter Fowler, who's been on the disabled list since June 27 with a right intercostal strain, was scheduled to play five innings in the field Sunday as he continues his Minor League rehab at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He went 3-for-6 as designated hitter in the first two games with the RedHawks.