September 16, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) Jose Altuve ended up just giving the Houston Astros a scare.

The same can't be said of promising young third baseman Alex Bregman, who could be done for the season.

Altuve was in the starting lineup on Friday night as the Astros opened a key three-game series in Seattle, two days after he left a game against Texas with discomfort in the oblique muscle on his right side. After staying behind in Houston on Thursday morning for additional examination, Altuve flew to Seattle late Thursday night and was in the lineup batting third and starting at second base.

The Astros started the day four games back in the AL wild card.

''Anytime you say the word oblique there is a panic as to what that could mean and how grand an injury that could be,'' Houston manager A.J. Hinch said of Altuve. ''Had him tested, saw our doctors and it came back very clean, which is a piece of mind for him and a piece of mind for us that there isn't any injury that he's dealing with.''

The news wasn't as good for Bregman and the strained right hamstring he suffered also in Wednesday's game. Bregman did not accompany the Astros on their six-game road trip, remaining in Houston to rehab the injury. Hinch said if there weren't so few games left in the season, Bregman would have been immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list. As it stands, it's unlikely Bregman will be available again during the regular season.

''It just needs to heal. It needs to heal over time and with some of the therapies that we do,'' Hinch said. ''Time is not on our side right now.''

Since Aug. 6, Bregman had been on a tear, hitting .310 with 13 doubles, eight home runs and 32 RBIs during that stretch.

''It's a loss for us on a lot of fronts. He's a really good player, he was hitting in the two-hole, he was in the middle of a lot of things that were going right for us. It's definitely a blow for us,'' Hinch said.

Altuve is leading the American League with a .341 batting average, with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs. Altuve said he felt good and didn't have any restrictions.

''I just can't swing and miss,'' Altuve said with a laugh.

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