Gomez tests injury with first swings

Progression to tee work a big step in rehab of intercostal strain

Gomez tests injury with first swings

HOUSTON -- Calling it a "big day," Astros starting center fielder Carlos Gomez was set to swing a bat Sunday for the first time in a week. Gomez sustained a mild left intercostal strain on Sept. 13 in Anaheim while taking batting practice and has been out since.

"Today's the first day I'm going to start doing dry swings, and if that goes well, I'm going to start hitting off the tee," Gomez said. "Yesterday, I did some exercises with the medicine ball like throwing, do that motion like you're hitting, but with the medicine ball. It felt really good. Today is a big day for me. Exciting."

Gomez said hitting off a tee is challenging because of the force you need to hit the ball hard, but if he's hitting soft toss on Monday without any problems, he could progress into batting practice quickly.

"It's a good sign that he's going to be able to do that," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's doing very well with the medicine ball rotation drills, some of the resistance stuff. We're getting there. At some point, we're going to have to take the governor off and let him test it fully, but that won't be today."

The Astros are in a tricky spot with Gomez. They know they can't rush the injury and that a setback could cost him the rest of the regular season. But they also need him back in the lineup.

"We're about to run through that same set of left-handers we ran through last week with the Angels and Rangers coming to town," Hinch said. "It would be nice to have him back if we could."

Gomez is hitting .234 with nine doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs in 38 games since coming to the Astros. Acquired in a trade with the Brewers in July, he had hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games, batting .306 with seven doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and a .362 on-base percentage.

Worth noting

• Hinch said that catcher Hank Conger has been dealing with lingering soreness in his right shoulder, and he's day to day.

"At this point in the season, if you're not dealing with some kind of ailment, you probably haven't been here long enough," Hinch said. "All these guys are a little nicked up."

• Infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who's been dealing with a sore left hand and index finger, is still "very sore," Hinch says, but is available in a right-handed pinch-hit possibility in more of an emergency role. Hinch is holding out hope Gonzalez be available when they face more left-handed starters this week.

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.