Hinch hopeful Valbuena won't need DL stint

Hinch hopeful Valbuena won't need DL stint

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he's confident infielder Luis Valbuena will avoid being placed on the disabled list after he left Tuesday's game with a strained right hamstring in the second inning. Valbuena is still listed as day to day, but wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday's series finale against the Yankees.

Hinch said Valbuena was going to be further examined Wednesday by team medical director Dr. David Lintner, and with the off-day on Thursday, Hinch was was hopeful Valbuena would be good to go on Friday in Detroit.

"I think this is something that's going to take a couple of days," Hinch said. "We face a lefty on Friday [Matt Boyd], and even though he hits lefties, I could easily see not playing him on Friday, too. At this point, we think it's more day to day and less two weeks."

Valbuena, who has started 77 games at third base and seven at first base this year, was hitting .260 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs and is fourth on the team in OPS (.816) behind Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer. With Valbuena out, Alex Bregman started at third base on Wednesday, but the Astros were left with just two position players on the bench: outfielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Evan Gattis.

Hinch has kept 13 pitchers all season and found himself in a bind when Valbuena went out of the game Tuesday. Because Bregman was at designated hitter and he didn't want to move him to third base and lose the DH, he opted to put catcher Jason Castro at first, moving Marwin Gonzalez to third to take Valbuena's spot. Castro did just fine defensively, but it's not something Hinch wants to become a routine.

That being said, Hinch would rather have the extra depth in pitching.

"The pitching is the most volatile position on the field," he said. "We've been fortunate to have the same groups of players numbers-wise and keep our bullpen fresh. We haven't had pitching injuries precisely because I haven't had to throw somebody four out of five days or five out of seven days.

"And that comes with the numbers we have. I understand the dilemma that comes up. Whatever you need that night you wish you had. If you need extra pitching, you want extra pitching. If you need a position player group, you wish you had that. We don't get to make a nightly decision; We have to make a strategy decision over the whole season."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.