Conger returns after right shoulder improves

Conger returns after right shoulder improves

SEATTLE -- Catcher Hank Conger returned to the Astros' lineup Tuesday in Seattle for the first time since Sept. 17. Conger has been dealing with a sore right shoulder, but he threw to the bases Monday at Safeco Field and told manager A.J. Hinch he was ready to go.

"Obviously, I tweaked the shoulder a little bit," Conger, who went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored in Houston's 6-4 loss, said. "I know we're in the race, but at the same time, I want to make sure everything's 100 percent so that nothing gets re-aggravated. I threw to bases, felt good, felt 100 percent, so I'm pretty excited to get back in there today."

Conger said he started to have issues with the shoulder during the last road trip to Arlington. He said he might have come into one of the games and "wasn't hot enough." The next day, his shoulder started to give him discomfort.

"It wasn't something I was overly worried about, but at the same time, you've got to be cautious," he said.

Conger, a switch-hitter, was hitting .219 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs entering Tuesday. He had thrown out just one of the 42 runners who have tried to steal against him. Conger said focusing on the target is key when it comes to controlling the running game.

"Obviously, that's an important part of my game that you need try to improve on," he said. "At the end of the day, just throw ball and try to put it on the bag, and whatever happens, happens."

Hinch started Conger in place of Jason Castro, who will be back in the lineup Wednesday. Castro came back from a 17-day disabled list stint on Sept. 17 -- Conger's previous game prior to Tuesday.

"Hank was banged up for a little bit; he's very refreshed now," Hinch said. "Hank's a good catcher who can really control the game and really handle himself behind the plate."

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.