HOUSTON -- The true measure of how much the Astros missed Colby Rasmus might not have been his outfield assist or his home run in the second inning of Tuesday's 3-1 win over the A's. The outpouring joy for Rasmus in the dugout after he slugged a homer in his first at-bat back from the disabled list was a clear sign his presence was missed as much as his bat.
Rasmus, in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 4, clubbed a homer off A's starter Kendall Graveman in the second inning and threw out a runner at the plate on the day he was activated following surgery to remove a cyst in his ear three weeks ago.
"We all said 'Welcome back' to him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That was a nice way to get back onto the active club. That's exactly why you want him in the lineup. He can do that. It was a good matchup for him against Graveman. We didn't do a lot. We did enough. Two homers and the walk and base hit, and that was pretty much the extent of our offense. It was nice to see him round the bases."
The veteran outfielder had Aug. 10 surgery to remove a cyst in his right ear -- a condition that appeared to adversely affect him at the plate for weeks. He was in a 3-for-66 slump before going on the DL and clearly wasn't himself. But Hinch said he noticed a different Rasmus during workouts when the team returned home last week from its weeklong road trip.
"Once you see that bounce in his step and the strength back in his body, we felt pretty good about it and that's why we wanted to activate him," he said. "The matchup, the time of the year, the trust in him -- he's done this before where he's come off the DL having not gone on a rehab assignment and done pretty well. You've just got to trust in your veteran that he's going to know how to prepare himself. Certainly the first at-bat, he fouled off a couple of tough pitches, he laid off a couple of tough pitches and hits a homer. It proved to be a big one."
Rasmus' initial impact Tuesday came in the field when he threw out Ryon Healy at the plate trying to score on a fly ball off the bat of Max Muncy. It was his 13th outfield assist and his 11th as a left fielder, the most by an Astros left fielder since Richard Hidalgo had 13 in 1999.
Per Statcast™, Rasmus' throw to retire Healy was measured at 91.9 mph, his second-strongest throw on an assist at the plate this season. His fastest was 95.3 to get Marcus Semien on July 19.
"I tried to put work in that way I would be ready to play as best I could," Rasmus said. "If I didn't think I was up to it, I wouldn't have tried to have get myself in there. I thought that was I ready with the work I was putting in the way my arm was feeling, the way my swing was feeling the and way was I was working and my body was receptive to that. That hard work pays off."
In the bottom of the inning, Rasmus turned on a 1-2 pitch from Graveman and launched it over the wall in right field to the delight of the crowd … and the dugout. Colby is back.
"I was able to connect with it and put the swing on it I wanted to," he said. "That's what I've been trying to do, so hopefully I can continue to get better at that as we keep going. Thankfully we got the win tonight and keep on pushing."
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.