Astros finish series vs.Tigers without reliever Peacock
DETROIT — Houston has lost right-handed reliever Brad Peacock to hand, foot and mouth disease for at least a week but is hopeful of getting Lance McCullers Jr. back within the next seven to 10 days.
Peacock went back to Houston on Tuesday after being separated from the team when it arrived Monday in Detroit for three games with the Tigers. He had been ill but told the team’s medical staff Monday his condition had worsened.
Peacock’s is the third known case of hand, foot and mouth disease in the majors this season. Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and Yankees lefty J.A. Happ each went on the disabled list with the illness last month.
“We deal with similar things like this all the time, maybe not to this extent,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “I’m not sure why this has become a thing in major league baseball this year. There’s a running joke inside about having to sanitize everything, but I’m not aware of any sort of precautions we’ve taken.”
McCullers Jr. threw a 40-pitch bullpen Tuesday and will fly to the team’s spring training base to face minor league hitters this weekend. He is expected to face hitters at least twice before being able to return to the Astros.
“My stuff is there,” he said. “My stuff is ready, but it’s a process. I’ve been down this road before and like I said, this timeline that we had when the injury occurred and the timeline we knew it was going to take to heal.
“We have no room for error. We have no room for setbacks, because if I do I’m not going to be able to pitch later this season and I’m not going to be able to pitch in the postseason.”
He hurt his forearm swinging a bat earlier this month. He will return, but in a bullpen role through the postseason.
The remaining two weeks of the season will present a challenge to Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire — he’s got more pegs than holes.
Installing rookie Christin Stewart, expected to play a big role for the Tigers going forward, as his regular left fielder means reduced playing time for outfielders Rule 5 choice Victor Reyes, Mikie Mahtook and JaCoby Jones.
“I need to figure out how to get them all playing time, knowing the Stewart is going to play left field,” Gardenhire said. “I am trying to figure out how to get all of them the right amount of playing time. But it’s going to be harder if we play Stew every day, and that’s what our plan is.
“We have center field and right field, and that’s Nick (Castellanos). Not too many options. I talked to Mikie. Reyes is always good.
“But I talked to Mikie and told him, ‘Just hang with me here. Let me get this thing rolling and figure out the best way to keep everybody swinging.’ Mikie is going to have to play some center field. And we can take the days when Victor (Martinez) is not playing and Casty can DH. But it’s not going to be easy.”
Jose Altuve told Hinch before Tuesday night’s game he was going to hit right-hander Jordan Zimmermann’s first pitch for a home run and he did, leading a three-home run night that helped the Astros to a 5-4 win over the Tigers.
Cole has had some success against the Tigers over his career with Houston and Pittsburgh. He beat Detroit earlier this year, allowing three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings. That made him 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA against the Tigers in five starts.
Norris has not faced the Astros this season and just once in his career (May 24, 2017), not getting a decision. He worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed four hits and two runs, one earned.
Detroit also announced right-hander Spencer Turnbull and left-hander Matt Hall were added to the active roster, with right-hander Johnny Barbato being designated for assignment to create a spot on the 4-man roster for the southpaw.
“They’re both going to pitch,” Gardenhire said, “but Turnbull, we are trying to get him a start or two, and then maybe piggy-back that with Hall. Something like that. We’re going to make it work out. Turnbull, we definitely want to see him start. Hall can go either way.”
Shortstop Jose Iglesias was to have his sore abdominal muscle examined Wednesday in Philadelphia. If it is determined he can’t be ready to play before the end of the season Detroit might call up another player to give them infield depth.