HOUSTON -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve continues to progress from the bruised hand he suffered when he was hit by a pitch Thursday, but manager Bo Porter held him out of the lineup for the third consecutive game Sunday to give him four full days off.
With the Astros scheduled to be off Monday, Porter is hopeful Altuve can return to the lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Nationals in Washington. Altuve did some throwing and hitting prior to Sunday's game.
"All indications are he's much improved," Porter said. "With the off-day tomorrow and him improving the way he's improving, we kind of felt like if we could keep him out of today's game and get the off-day tomorrow, by Tuesday he should be as 100 percent as possible."
Despite missing so much time, Altuve entered Sunday still leading the Major Leagues with 90 hits, just ahead of Melky Cabrera and Alex Rios, both of whom had 86. He was hit on the right hand by a pitch Thursday, but X-rays were negative.
Astros ink Veras to Minor League deal
HOUSTON -- Veteran reliever Jose Veras never wanted to leave the Astros in the first place, so he was thrilled to be rejoining the organization.
The Astros on Sunday announced they had signed Veras to a Minor League contract. He'll report to Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday before going to Triple-A Oklahoma City at some point soon afterwards.
"I'm real happy to come back to the place you have good people, good organization and good teammates," Veras told MLB.com from his home in Miami. "I would have liked to have stayed all my life there, but sometimes it's business. The bottom line is it's best off for a player to be in a good place you can feel comfortable with everything."
Veras was released by the Cubs last week after signing a one-year, $4 million deal in December. The Astros had made an offer in the winter to try to re-sign him, and Veras spoke publicly about his desire to return. Now that he's back in the organization, he wants to get in game shape as soon as possible.
"My arm feels good," he said. "I have to go by their decision and be smart too at the same time. My last time to pitch was 14 days ago. I don't try to be a hero. When you haven't pitched in a while, it's tough to say 'I'm sharp,' 'I'm good to go' or whatever. I've been working and threw live BP two days ago, threw bullpens and working here in Miami."
Veras was projected to be the Cubs closer, but he lost the closer's job to Hector Rondon after compiling an 8.10 ERA in 12 games. After Veras, 33, was designated for assignment earlier this month, the Cubs had 10 days to trade him or release him.
Veras was traded last midseason to Detroit after appearing in 42 games for the Astros, for whom he posted a 2.94 ERA with 19 saves in 43 innings. He was a strong presence in the Astros' young clubhouse, and the team struggled to close out games after he was dealt.
Fields goes on 15-day DL with sore forearm
HOUSTON -- The Astros placed right-handed pitcher Josh Fields on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with soreness in his right forearm. He was taken out of Saturday's game while warming up to go back in for the top of the ninth inning when he felt discomfort.
Fields on Sunday called the move precautionary, and manager Bo Porter agreed, saying the team didn't want to be left with a short bullpen. The Astros called up right-hander Paul Clemens from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take Fields' spot.
"We didn't want to rush [Fields] back," Porter said. "It's one of those things, it's a muscle. It could be two days, it could be five days, but we didn't want to rush him. We have Clemens there, and he's available and it gives us flexibility."
Fields has appeared in 28 games this year, going 1-4 with a 5.93 ERA, but in his last 14 outings, he's 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA.
"It's tight and a little sore," he said. "We'll see how it feels today, the next couple of days, and move from there. It's always frustrating when you get setbacks like this, but it's part of the game. I'm going to do whatever I can to get back as quick as I can."
Clemens has been burning up the path between Oklahoma City and Houston this year, with this marking his fourth callup to the big league club.
In 11 games for the Astros in 2014, he's pitched in 22 2/3 innings and allowed 24 hits, 13 earned runs and has walked 12 batters. He last pitched for Houston on June 7 in Minnesota, giving up four earned runs and two hits in two innings.