Altuve eager to play after intense workout

Astros second baseman says hamstring is feeling good

Altuve eager to play after intense workout

SEATTLE -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is nearing a return to the lineup. Altuve went through some intense running and agility drills at Safeco Field to test his ailing right hamstring prior to Saturday's game against the Mariners and responded well.

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"I feel great," Altuve said. "I went outside, I ran really hard. I just feel good."

Altuve wasn't in the lineup Saturday for the third consecutive game, though, and said he's getting eager to play. He returned to action Tuesday after missing three games with right hamstring discomfort and left Wednesday's game in Colorado because manager A.J. Hinch didn't think he looked comfortable.

Hinch, who was on the field with Altuve for Saturday's workout, said he was encouraged by what he saw. He said he wouldn't be shy about using Altuve off the bench as early as Saturday if he thought he could help the Astros win.

"I'm very happy with where he's at," he said. "He did a lot of activity today at probably the most intensity he's had since he first came out of the game in Seattle [June 12]. Very encouraged by where he's at and happy with the progress."

Altuve said he's done everything he needs to do to test out the hamstring, which included hitting and fielding grounders Friday and running Saturday.

"I'm really anxious but like I said we still have a lot of games left," he said. "To try to hurry for one game you can miss more games. I'm ready for whenever they decide to put me back there."

Altuve is hitting .287 with five homers, 28 RBIs and 17 stolen bases, which led the American League going into Saturday's games.

"We would love to have him back as soon as possible," Hinch said. "Today was a great encouragement to where I could see him playing soon. Watching him run full speed and the agility drills we have him doing, I'm not sure he could do a week ago, I'm happy."

Worth noting:

• Hinch said he believes Astros outfielder George Springer, who entered Saturday with a .278 batting average, 11 homers, 25 walks and .376 on-base percentage is All-Star worthy. Hinch will be on the All-Star coaching staff and said he would provide input next week to AL manager Ned Yost if he asks.

"You look at this year and we need to judge it on the entirety for the first half and not just the first month and not just the last month," Hinch said. "The way he's playing certainly has established himself as a worthy candidate for us."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.