HOUSTON -- After having only one player represent the club at the All-Star Game in the previous four seasons, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve says it's time for multiple Astros players to make the trip to the Midsummer Classic next month.
Altuve, who leads the Major League in hits, is certainly on pace to make his first All-Star Game as a member of the American League -- he was on the National League All-Star team in 2012 -- next month in Minneapolis. Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and outfielders Dexter Fowler and George Springer could also get some All-Star love, though only Altuve is in the top five in voting at his position. Pitchers, of course, aren't on the fan balloting, and Springer isn't on the ballot, but could be a write-in candidate.
"I'm going to vote for Jose as many times as they let me," Springer said.
Altuve said he's going to do the same for Springer.
"He's a guy that deserves to be there," he said. "I think the Astros have to take more than one player to the All-Star Game this year. The guys are playing really good and there's more than one guy who deserves to be on the All-Star team."
Astros manager Bo Porter agreed that there should be multiple Astros in the All-Star Game for the first time since Hunter Pence and Miguel Tejada in 2009, but he's not going to campaign unless AL manager John Farrell of the Red Sox asks his advice.
"I think he has enough on his plate already trying to fill the All-Star team if you look around the league and see how many guys are enjoying great seasons," Porter said.
Astros ink power-hitting 42nd overall pick Reed
HOUSTON -- A.J. Reed was so eager to sign with the Astros, he went to the Lidz store at a mall in his hometown of Terre Haute, Ind., on Friday and purchased a blue Astros hat with an orange bill. He can buy quite a few more now after agreeing to a $1.35 million bonus and signing his deal Wednesday.
The Astros finalized a contract with the University of Kentucky slugger, who was taken with the top pick of the second round (No. 42 overall) of last week's First-Year Player Draft. Reed's bonus was the assigned value of the pick.
"I'm playing for a professional baseball team, and that's been my dream all my life," he said Wednesday when introduced to reporters at Minute Maid Park. "To be able to play for the Astros, that's one of the best things for me. I feel like what they need is what I have to offer. It was a really good opportunity to start my career."
Reed will take batting prior to Thursday's game against Arizona before heading to short-season Tri-City, where he will be the starting first baseman. Reed was also a standout pitcher at Kentucky, but he can focus on hitting now.
"I feel like I'll be able to progress a little bit and able to focus all my time on hitting is big for me," he said. "I've never done that before. It's going to be a change for me, and I'm excited about that, excited to see where it goes and see how much better I can get."
The 21-year-old Reed (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) led the NCAA in home runs (23), slugging (.735) and on-base plus slugging (1.211) as a junior. He also hit .336 (75-for-223) this season with 18 doubles, 73 RBIs and a .476 on-base percentage. Reed walked 49 times in 2014 and struck out just 48 times.
A two-way player in college, Reed was also Kentucky's Friday night starter and led the SEC with 12 wins. He was the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the SEC Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the best collegiate baseball player in the country.
"He can hit the ball to all fields," Astros scouting director Mike Elias said. "He took a huge step as a hitter and made himself a more complete hitter. We think he's ready for the challenge of professional baseball and we're very excited to see what he can do for us this summer and going forward."
Reed is the first top 10 pick by the Astros to officially sign, though MLB.com has reported the club has reached deals with third-round pick J.D. Davis, a third baseman from Cal State Fullerton; sixth-round pick Brock Dykxhoorn, a right-handed pitcher from Central Arizona College; eighth-round pick Bobby Boyd, a center fielder from West Virginia University; ninth-round pick Bryan Radziewski, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Miami; and 10th-round pick Jay Gause, a right-handed pitcher from Faulkner University in Alabama.
"We're making a lot of progress very rapidly with most of the top 10 picks," Elias said. "Some of them won't officially sign until they officially report to their affiliates. We're not ready to report any of them until that happens and the entire process is complete, but I feel really good about our chances to sign every one of our top 10 picks and most of the draft class as a whole."
Knee feeling good, Springer returns to lineup
HOUSTON -- Astros rookie George Springer, who leads the club in RBIs and on-base plus slugging, returned to the lineup Wednesday against the D-backs after missing the two previous games in Arizona with a sore right knee. He hit second behind Dexter Fowler and ahead of Jon Singleton.
"Two days [out] is better than 15," Astros manager Bo Porter said of playing it safe with Springer. "He took two days, his knee calmed down, everything is fine and the trainers gave him the OK. He's back in the lineup today."
Springer hates missing games and told Porter on Monday and Tuesday in Arizona he could have played.
"I always try to snake my way in there no matter what," Springer said. "Obviously, I have the utmost respect for [Porter] and the decisions he makes. He's obviously doing it in my best interest. He told me [to sit] and I said, 'OK, I'll get it checked out' and now I'm good to go."
Since making his Major League debut on April 16, Springer is tied for seventh in the American League in RBIs and ranks among the top 10 among AL rookies in homers (second), RBIs (second), slugging percentage (second), runs (third), on-base percentage (third), walks (third), extra-base hits (tied for third) and total bases (fourth).
Altuve misses first game of year with ailing oblique
HOUSTON -- After saying this spring his goal was to play in 162 games this year, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was unhappy with being out of the lineup in Wednesday's 5-1 victory over the D-backs. Altuve felt discomfort in his left oblique swinging at a 61-mph curveball Tuesday and was out of the lineup for the first time this season as a result.
"They asked me if I could play and I said, 'Yes,'" said Altuve, who leads the Major Leagues with 88 hits and the American League with 24 steals and 279 at-bats. "I don't think it's something to take a day off, but if they want to keep me on the bench, I'm going to be ready to come in the game whenever they want."
Astros manager Bo Porter always likes to play it safe with any kind of injury, and that is certainly the case with his best hitter.
"Altuve obviously wants to play, but at the same time you have to protect them from themselves," Porter said. "We feel like if he gets treatment today and tomorrow, he should be fine and ready to go. This is not something we want to linger and become a problem where he could miss two or three weeks trying to recover from."
Altuve said that he was going to try to get Porter to change the lineup.
"Whenever his baseball career is over, he's got a chance to be an attorney because he tried to plead his best cast to get himself in the lineup," Porter said. "Jose Altuve is arguably one of the best players in our game. He's not someone you can replace, but at the same time it's the next guy up. Marwin [Gonzalez] is going to play second base today, and the guys we run out there we believe they're going to give us an opportunity to win the game."
Porter was asked if he would even stay away from Altuve in a pinch-hit situation.
"I wouldn't go that far, because if the big guy is standing on deck over there it makes the other team think twice," he said.