Jose Abreu,Tucker and Garcia make stunning comeback ahead of….

Notes on Astros: Garcia, Tucker, and Abreu

Jose Abreu’s voluntary assignment in the minor leagues appears to be lasting at least a little while longer, despite earlier hints that he might make a comeback to the Astros for this Friday’s series opener against the A’s. Abreu will play games with the team’s Arizona Complex League affiliate today and tomorrow before traveling to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday, according to manager Joe Espada, who spoke with the Astros beat today (X link via’s Brian McTaggart). Although a return later in the weekend series hasn’t been ruled out, the team hasn’t made an official commitment to a timeframe just yet.
Abreu, 37, had the worst stretch of his major league career until, rather shockingly, accepting an optional assignment earlier this year. After a disastrous start to the season, the former AL MVP hit just.099/.156/.113 in 77 plate appearances. He’s currently just 6-for-18 against Rookie-level opposition, with two doubles, a walk, and two strikeouts. Any indication of life from Abreu, though, is a positive development considering his terrible season opener. After receiving a confidence boost and mental reset in the ACL, it appears he will play at least one or two games against more experienced Triple-A opponents.
During the Astros’ interim general managership, Abreu signed a three-year, $58.5MM free agency contract. He is currently in the second season of that deal. Between the unexpected firing of former general manager James Click and the appointment of current general manager Dana Brown, owner Jim Crane was mainly in charge of baseball operations. Given how challenging Abreu’s tenure with the team has been thus far, the club has every reason to try to get him back on track with the help of that contract. In 671 plate appearances since writing his first book, Abreu could only muster a.221/.280/.352 hitting line.
Jon Singleton has assumed the daily role of first base in Abreu’s absence. With Abreu off the roster, he has produced a.224/.346/.448 slash in 81 plate appearances; however, the most of his damage occurred in the first few games after Abreu’s demotion. Although Singleton hit a home run yesterday night, it was his first extra-base hit in almost a fortnight. Houston’s first basemen this season have combined for a.170/.260/.275 line between Singleton and Abreu.
Horrible first base play has been just one of the many problems plaguing the poor Houston team. Hunter Brown and J.P. France have significantly regressed for the injury-plagued Astros starting staff, and newcomer Spencer Arrighetti has had a difficult rookie season. Ronel Blanco, a righty, is now having a breakthrough, although

Notable arms like Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr., who began the season on the injured list while recovering from significant surgeries, are still expected to make an impact for the Astros. This week, Garcia made a significant advancement in his recuperation when he threw off the mound at Minute Maid Park, as noted by the Houston Chronicle’s Matt Kawahara on Twitter.

Garcia, 27, had Tommy John surgery in early May of last year, and he has now recovered for more than a year. A comeback is not imminent at this time because he will still need to face hitters in simulated games and live batting practice before starting a minor league rehab assignment. However, the fact that he has advanced to mound work and has not yet seen any kind of setback is good.

There are still important matters to think about in the long run even as the Astros manage these immediate problems. Since taking over the team, Brown has expressed repeatedly his desire to retain outfielder Kyle Tucker in Houston for the duration of his career. Tucker was previously selected with the fifth overall choice. He did it once more today, making an appearance on SportsTalk 790’s Sean Salisbury Show and saying (X links courtesy Brian LaLima of 790):

“We’re not talking extensions right now. We adore Kyle Tucker. He is bound by our contract until 2025. We aren’t currently having a conversation, but I spoke with his agent during spring training. If he could retire here, it would be wonderful. Both he and his agent are aware that we would like to sign him here. Eventually

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