Tucker makes immediate impact after callup

Tucker makes immediate impact after callup

HOUSTON -- The Astros called up a batter from Triple-A Fresno on Friday, it just wasn't the one most were expecting.

But Preston Tucker gave the Astros just what they needed in Friday night's 2-1 win over the Angels. Tucker, who started at designated hitter, tripled to Tal's Hill in the bottom of the fifth and later scored to put Houston up, 1-0.

"That's what I felt like I got brought back up here to do," Tucker said. "I know the pitcher tonight was tough, so I was just trying to do everything I could to get on base."

The triple was the first of Tucker's career, in his first game back with the Astros. He began the season in the Majors but was sent to Triple-A after hitting just .176 in 33 games.

He got his mojo back in Fresno, batting .301 with 63 hits and eight home runs in 53 games.

"Once I got in a rhythm and started getting consistent at-bats down there, kind of getting in a groove, things took off," he said. "It took about a month for it to click, but the last month felt pretty good."

Tucker wasn't the player most thought would be called up in place of first baseman A.J. Reed, who was sent back to Fresno after struggling in his first Major League stint. Many assumed that distinction would be given to much-anticipated prospect Alex Bregman.

"For whatever reason, Friday became this highly anticipated 'Bregman watch,'" manager A.J. Hinch said prior to the game. "The reality is, he's still developing some key things that we think he's going to need to do to compete at this level."

In only 16 games with the Grizzlies, Bregman is batting .371 with 26 hits, six doubles, six home runs and 15 RBIs.

Astros catcher Jason Castro, who sent Tucker home with a single, even went so far as to jokingly say he would have to start calling Tucker "You're Not Alex."

Castro's RBI single

"I've gotten a little bit of that from some of these guys," Tucker said before the game, "but I'm sure [Bregman will] be up here soon, and I'm just trying to contribute any way I can."

Tucker's contribution on Friday didn't go unnoticed.

"To contribute in the lineup right away is a big deal," Hinch said. "Tucker certainly ignited [the game] with the triple, and being able to contribute on your first day back, seeing your old teammates for the first time in a while, has got to feel pretty good."

And Bregman?

"His time will come," Hinch said. "It's not now. I know there's some anxiousness to it. In today's world we seem to have a little bit of impatience in these deals."

Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.