8/13/2014 2:17 A.M. ET
Albers, Crain hope to pitch before season ends
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is holding out hope injured relievers Matt Albers and Jesse Crain will pitch in a game this season, while on Monday acknowledging "we'd have to see some progress here in the next couple of weeks for sure."
Albers, on the disabled list since April 22 with right shoulder tendinitis, is closer to a return considering he's progressed to the point he's throwing in the bullpen. He threw about 20 fastballs at 80-85 percent Friday and will be back on the mound Tuesday.
"I've stayed optimistic the whole time and continue to progress," he said. "I really hope I can pitch at least the last month. It's not what I had hoped for, obviously, but it's better than nothing."
Crain has missed the entire season as he continues to build up strength in his shoulder following surgery on his right biceps last October. He's still throwing off flat ground, so he's a longer shot than Albers to see action by the end of the year.
"There's still a month and a half left, and they're both working hard to try to get there," Luhnow said.
Albers would like to get some innings under his belt to give him peace of mind entering the offseason that's he's healthy. The Astros hold a club option on Albers for 2015, so they probably would like to see him prove he's healthy, too.
"If I can come back and be able to pitch and be effective, that would be great," Albers said. "I want to have a normal offseason after that, and that's my goal, to get back and pitch the last month."
Presley begins Class A rehab assignment
HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder Alex Presley began a Minor League rehab assignment at short-season Tri-City on Tuesday. The ValleyCats opened a three-game series in Troy, N.Y., against Hudson Valley on Tuesday.
Presley has been on the disabled list since he strained his right oblique swinging the bat July 7 at Arlington, meaning Tuesday's game was the 29th he's missed. He went 0-for-3 as the designated hitter Tuesday and will play a couple of games in the field, getting action at all three outfield positions.
He should be activated during the team's upcoming road trip, which begins with four games in Boston and continues with three at Yankee Stadium. Both locations are relatively close to where Presley will be rehabbing in Tri-City.
"I'm excited to play," Presley said. "I'm set to go."
Presley experienced some soreness in the oblique taking batting practice Saturday, but he said it was because of inactivity. Because of that, he said he will need to adjust his routing during the rehab outing to stay warm.
"I'll try to do a better job of maybe coming in a little more time before and moving around some more so it's not a shock when I get in from BP," he said. "I'll get through each day and try to play full tilt and come away healthy. That's the goal. Whenever I can do that and I feel good about doing on-field things in game speed, I'm sure the decision will be made [to activate me]."
Springer 'one day closer' to return
HOUSTON -- George Springer says he's "one day closer" to returning to action. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Springer is "days" away from returning. All that's known for sure is Springer continues to progress from a quad injury that's kept him in the disabled list since July 20, but the timetable for his return remains unclear.
Springer continues to take batting practice, but won't be activated until he can run full speed.
"You've got to be able to see what your body can handle and what it can't, but at the same time, you don't want to overdo it and set yourself back," he said. "You have to walk that thin line and be smart."
Luhnow said running remains the final hurdle for the rookie slugger.
"It's more running full speed and having to stop and change directions and those sort of things, which you have to do as an outfielder and a baserunner," Luhnow said. "Those are the things you really don't get fully tested until you're in a game situation. We're going to try and replicate as much of that as we can."
Springer played three games on a Minor League rehab last week at Class A Quad Cities and tweaked the quad running the bases. Luhnow said he wasn't sure whether Springer would have to have another rehab assignment before returning to the Astros.
"We haven't made that decision," he said. "The reason to do a rehab is in case there's any sort of setback, you're not burning another 15 days. That's the worst thing to do. I know he's anxious to get back and we're anxious to have him back, and we have to weigh those."
Fowler expected to rejoin lineup soon
HOUSTON -- When the Astros leave Wednesday for a 10-game road trip to the East Coast, they expect to have veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler in tow.
Fowler, who's been on the disabled list since June 27 with a right intercostal strain, was scheduled to play in his fourth rehab game at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday and hasn't had any setbacks. He went 3-for-8 in his first three games, which included two games at designated hitter.
"Chances are good," Astros manager Bo Porter said when asked if Fowler would be activated before Thursday's series opener in Boston. "We should be getting him back soon."
The return of Fowler will be a big boost to the Astros, who have been without him, George Springer and Alex Presley -- all three of whom had been starting -- for much of the last month.
"Whenever you lose starters, that's difficult," Porter said. "At the same time, it provides opportunity for some other guys to play during that time. We would definitely be excited to get Dexter and Springer back, and Presley at the time he went down with the injury, he was a starter. Getting all three of those guys would be huge at the back end of the season."