NEW YORK – The Houston Astros activated rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña from the injured list Sunday, but star outfielder Michael Brantley left their game against the New York Yankees with right shoulder discomfort.
Star slugger Yordan Alvarez was out of the lineup with an ongoing hand issue as Houston tried to win its four-game series against the major league-leading New York Yankees. Alvarez hurt the hand on a swing July 18, sat out a game against the White Sox the next day and has played every game since.
Manager Dusty Baker said Alvarez’s hand is still sore, and the 24-year-old may need regular rest. The issue hasn’t affected Alvarez’s performance — he has hit four of his 22 home runs in the five games since the injury.
The 24-year-old Peña is a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year but hasn't played since June 13, when he injured his left thumb diving for a catch.
Peña is hitting .277 with nine home runs, six stolen bases and an .805 OPS while playing stellar defense at shortstop. He has been a worthy replacement for Carlos Correa, a two-time All-Star who left Houston for Minnesota as a free agent this spring.
Brantley was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being replaced by pinch-hitter J.J. Matijevic in the eighth inning.
Houston optioned outfielder Chas McCormick to clear space for Peña. McCormick is hitting .219 with six homers and a .684 OPS in his second big league season. His demotion allows Houston to keep rookie J.J. Matijevic on the roster. Matijevic is just 2 for 14, but both hits have been home runs, including one against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Saturday.
Matijevic, primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, hits left-handed, while McCormick bats righty.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports