HOUSTON -- George Springer returned to the lineup in center field Saturday after being scratched from Friday's game with discomfort in his right knee. Springer, of course, said he could have played Friday, but he understood it's better to be cautious.
"I could have played, but at this point, you've got to be smart," Springer said. "That's what happened."
Springer entered Saturday holding the franchise-rookie records with 19 homers and 50 RBIs prior to the All-Star break and was just two homers shy of Lance Berkman's Astros rookie record for an entire season (21 in 2000).
"He's feeling better," manager Bo Porter said. "He wanted to play, but at the same time, looking at the soreness and not wanting to take any chances, he was able to get treatment and came back today and it was much improved."
Springer, who's from New Britain, Conn., and went to the University of Connecticut, grew up as a Red Sox fan, so Saturday marked his first time playing against them.
"It's crazy just to be on the same field as them," Springer said. "I've always been a fan of them my whole life. It's awesome. As a kid being from that area, you're always thinking you're playing at Fenway Park, and I would pretend I was one of the Red Sox guys. I didn't really have one guy on that team I liked the most. I watched them all play since I was a kid."
Astros play it safe by putting McHugh on DL
HOUSTON -- The Astros opted to play it safe with right-hander Collin McHugh, choosing to place him on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, a move that's retroactive to Monday, with a right middle finger nail avulsion, which is when the nail pulls away from the skin.
"I don't think any time you're on the DL it's a nice thing," McHugh said. "I take a lot of pride in getting the ball every fifth day. I was talking to my wife last night and she was reminding me this is the first time I've missed a start in six years. It's not something you want, obviously, but I understand where the organization and coaching staff is coming from."
McHugh developed the condition throwing Sunday against the Angels in Anaheim and was hopeful to start Saturday against the Red Sox, but the club called left-hander Brett Oberholtzer up from Triple-A Oklahoma City and decided to give McHugh the All-Star break to fully recuperate.
"We have guys that have thrown the ball really well who can come up and give you a blow," McHugh said. "If this was the playoffs, if this was the playoff push we were making at the end of the season, I would be out there. I think at that point it makes sense to give us the rest and start fresh when we come back."
McHugh is scheduled to pitch the Astros' fourth game out of the All-Star break, which will be July 22 in Oakland. McHugh's 0-5 with a 4.18 ERA in his past five starts, but he still hasn't pitched poorly in that span. He's allowed only 21 hits in 28 innings and has struck out 33 batters. Opponents are hitting .208 against him in that span.
Still, McHugh views the second half as a chance to finish the season strong.
"You take this as a fresh start and just move on from here and try to remember some of the really good things I've done and work from there and put these last couple of starts behind me," he said.
Fowler feeling better, hopes to return Friday night
HOUSTON -- In a decision that came as no surprise, the Astros aren't going to rush center fielder Dexter Fowler back before the All-Star break. Fowler was eligible to be activated on Saturday after missing the previous 14 games with a right intercostal strain, but he's now targeting Friday's game in Chicago.
"I feel all right," Fowler said Saturday. "Obviously, I'm not ready to come off the DL. I think we're going to use the All-Star break to get back."
Fowler isn't surprised the injury has taken more than two weeks to heal.
"No, they told me in the beginning that this is the type of injury that you never know what can happen," Fowler said. "It's just how your body feels and depends on how long it takes."
The only thing Fowler can do at this point is rest, which he will get plenty of in the next week when the Astros take three full days off for the All-Star break. The team will work out Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field prior to starting its series against the White Sox.
"You look at the progress which he's been able to make and the fact we have another week, it should provide more time for him to get better," manager Bo Porter said.