PITTSBURGH -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Pirates, marking his first action since Monday's game in Detroit. Altuve was activated from the bereavement list, with infielder Jake Elmore getting optioned back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Altuve traveled to his native Venezuela to attend the funeral of his grandmother and arrived in the Steel City on Friday night at about 8:30 ET. He watched the game from the team hotel.
"I feel really good about the way they treated me when I came back," Altuve said of his teammates. "I wanted to come back strong and help my team in every way I can."
Altuve said he appreciated the way his teammates reached out to him during a difficult time and thanked manager Bo Porter for allowing him to travel home.
"It's not easy, but they texted me and called and told me they're here for me, and I'm really happy about that," Altuve said. "It's good to be back with their support. Now I'm going to focus on playing baseball and trying to win some games."
Porter was definitely happy to write Altuve's name in the lineup card. He is among the American League leaders with 51 hits entering Saturday.
"It's good to have him back and I'm glad he was able to get back there with his family," Porter said. "He said, 'Skipper, thank you so much for allowing me to go,' and I told him, 'Any time.' Family comes first and we need you to go there and be with your family. He's excited to be back and be around his teammates."
Astros coaches discuss error with Paredes
PITTSBURGH -- Astros bench coach Eduardo Perez and first-base coach Dave Clark both had conversations with outfielder Jimmy Paredes on Saturday, a day after he crashed into teammate Jake Elmore and forced him to drop a ball that allowed the Pirates to score the winning run in the ninth inning.
Paredes, who was in right field, didn't see Elmore, the second baseman, waving his arms to signal he was prepared to catch the ball, at which point Paredes should have backed off. It was the second time in less than a week Paredes ran into a second baseman. He crashed into Jose Altuve on Monday in Detroit and partially dislocated Altuve's jaw.
"This is Major League Baseball and you can't have those kinds of fundamental mishaps in big league games," manager Bo Porter said. "It should not happen."
Perez said he was honest with Paredes. He told him the play in Detroit wasn't his fault because Altuve didn't hear him calling for the ball, but on Friday he should have peeled off as Elmore was raising his hands.
"He was a little confused on how he's going to look down and up at the same time," Perez said. "It's just him being a little bit raw out there, but he's got to learn from it. I tried to tell him to switch positions [Paredes used to play second base] and think about when you're a second baseman, what do you do? How do you call it? You call it by raising your hand, and you're expecting the right fielder to see you. Now you're a right fielder and you have to see him. If he's under the ball, he's getting it."
Veteran pitcher Edgar Gonzalez, who was on the mound at the time, spoke to Paredes in their native Spanish after the game and offered words of encouragement.
"He told me that happens in the game sometimes and he told me the most important thing is you and Elmore are fine," Paredes said. "There were no injuries. Nobody got hurt. In the game, that situation happens. That's what he was he was telling me. Just keep going."
Thin bench haunts Astros in Friday's loss
PITTSBURGH -- Had the Astros had their full complement of players on Friday, Jimmy Paredes wouldn't have even been in the game in the ninth inning. Paredes committed an error when he collided with second baseman Jake Elmore and caused him to drop the ball, allowing the Pirates to score the winning run.
Astros manager Bo Porter said Saturday he was short handed on his bench Friday with shortstop Ronny Cedeno (sinus problems) and outfielder Brandon Barnes (ankle) both unavailable. Barnes would have pinch-ran for Chris Carter in the eighth inning and stayed in the game to play the outfield instead of Paredes.
Trevor Crowe would have been in right field, with Robbie Grossman moving to left and Barnes in center.
"We were pretty light as far as the bench goes and it affected the way I managed the game," Porter said.
Barnes rolled his ankle making a game-winning catch in the ninth inning Wednesday in Detroit, and Cedeno was told by a doctor to take Friday off.
With only two bench players at his disposal -- one of whom was backup catcher Carlos Corporan -- Porter was forced to have relief pitcher Wesley Wright try to put down a bunt in the eighth inning. He struck out.
"When you're in a National League ballpark and you only have two bench players, and if one of them is your backup catcher, it limits the things you can do, and that's why you have Wesley Wright bunting," Porter said. "In a situation where we have our full complement of players, we would not have been in that position."
Astros to hold first Draft workout on Sunday
PITTSBURGH -- The Astros will hold the first of four regional workouts of high school and college players on Sunday in anticipation of next month's First-Year Player Draft. Sunday's workout will be held in the Los Angeles area, with about 20 prospects invited to attend.
The second workout will be held Wednesday in Kissimmee, Fla., at the team's Spring Training complex, the third will be May 26 in Georgia and the final workout will be June 1 at Minute Maid Park. That will also serve as the start of the Astros' pre-Draft meetings, when the front office will begin going over 1,200 players.
The Astros have the No. 1 pick in the Draft for the second year in a row.
The regional crosscheckers from each region will attend the workout in their region, as well as scouting director Mike Elias, national crosschecker David Post, director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and perhaps even general manager Jeff Luhnow.
For the Astros, it's a chance to interview the players, watch them throw, run and take batting practice and just get a better sense of their tools. It's basically putting the finishing touches on the prospects the team has already been tracking. There's even a forum for the players to ask questions.
"It's a chance to get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list you might not have been able to get crosschecked in the spring," Elias said.
Some of the players the Astros are considering taking with the No. 1 pick will be at the workouts, as well as players up and down the Draft board. The Astros held similar workouts last year.
"This is something in St. Louis we had a lot of success with, and a lot of the later kids [drafted] were kids who attended the workouts," Elias said. "They weren't drafted high or for a significant amount of money, but they got in front of Jeff and the crosscheckers and brought some extra attention to themselves prior to the Draft and put themselves more firmly in our mind on Draft day. When you're staring at the board, you can put a face to the magnet and have a clearer picture of who the player was. It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the Draft."
When asked if local high school players -- and sons of former Astros greats -- Cavan Biggio, Josh Pettitte and Kacy Clemens would be in attendance in Houston, Luhnow said: "I haven't seen the invite list, but I imagine they're on it."