Astros Injuries: Happ's Sunday Start Against Phillies Still Up In The Air

A thread to keep up-to-date with the Astros injury woes.

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4 Total Updates since January 6, 2011
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J.A. Happ's Sunday Start Still Not A Sure Thing, Barmes Could Be Back Sooner

An injury update from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com brings some good news and bad news. The good news is that Astros shortstop Clint Barmes, who broke a bone in his hand after getting hit by a pitch, may come back sooner than originally thought.

The timetable when Barmes hit the DL was set for around 4-6 weeks, but the Astros doctors are pleased with the grip strength that Barmes has shown thus far and think he may be able to return in 3-4 weeks. Any news that will get Angel Sanchez onto the bench rather in the starting lineup is likely good news for the Astros.

The not-so-good news? Despite earlier reports saying that J.A. Happ planned to make his scheduled start on Sunday, it turns out that until he throws a bullpen session on Friday, the Astros won’t know for sure if he’ll make the start or not. Because it’s early in the season, the Astros may be able to reorganize their rotation to give Happ a few extra days if needed.

Such a move would likely bump Bud Norris up to the Sunday start, and with a day off Monday, the Astros could skip his turn entirely if need be. That would set him up to pitch the home opener against the Florida Marlins on April 8th.

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Happ's Strained Right Oblique 'Feeling Much Better,' Likely Will Make Sunday Start

According to Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle, J.A. Happ is feeling better and will presumably avoid any DL stint. 

Campbell recently tweeted:

Astros pitcher J.A. Happ (strained right oblique on Tuesday) is feeling better and plans to make scheduled Sunday start at Philadelphia.

Happ plans to start at Citizens Bank Park; in his last start at Philadelphia, Happ threw six and a third innings and gave up two runs in an Astros win. If he's able to make the Sunday start, he would square off against the pitcher he was traded for: Roy Oswalt. The Astros open up with the Phillies on Friday and will have a three-game series in Philadelphia. 

Astros social media guru Alyson Footer also tweeted that Happ will stretch and throw during batting practice today. Happ's relative healthiness would be a nice stroke of good luck for the Astros, who have already lost Clint Barmes and Jason Castro to injuries in spring training.

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J.A. Happ Strains Oblique Against Oklahoma, May Miss Start Of Season

J.A. Happ had to leave an exhibition start last night against AAA Oklahoma City with a strained oblique after three innings. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that Happ is taking a wait and see approach with the injury for now:

“I’m taking an optimistic approach and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Happ said. “Hopefully, I got out before anything too serious [happened]. But it tightened up pretty good. I hope I caught it before it gets too serious.”

Strained obliques are not simple injuries for pitchers. Happ could miss his Sunday assignment in Philadelphia, and could even wind up on the DL. For reference, the DodgersJon Garland will miss the first four-to-six weeks with a similar injury.

If the Astros were forced to turn to a replacement starter, it’s hard to say who they would go with first. Rule Five pick Aneury Rodriguez was going to be the long man, and he could get the first crack at it. Ryan Rowland-Smith, who was picked up from the Mariners in the offseason, could also have a shot at the spot.

With long-term injuries to Clint Barmes and Jason Castro as well, spring training has been brutal for the Astros. They’re ready for the season to start.

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Jeff Keppinger Likely To Miss Start Of Season After Foot Surgery

In news that explains why there hasn't been much interest in him on the trade market, Astros.com and MLB beat writer Brian McTaggart reports that infielder Jeff Keppinger is suffering from inflammation in his left big toe. The diagnosis is sesamoiditis, which is to be cured by surgically removing the sesamoid bone from Keppinger's foot.

The recovery time from the surgery is about three or four months, which puts Keppinger in line to return a week or so in to the campaign if everything goes as planned. Keppinger had been relegated to a utility infielder role following the signing of Bill Hall, and was expected to be traded before this news hit. Keppinger hit .288 with 59 RBI for the Astros last season. The club will probably look to move him again once he proves he is healthy in-season.

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