On Friday, the Houston Astros activated reigning American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez from the injured list, the team announced. Alvarez missed all of summer camp and the start of the regular season with COVID-19, he told reporters. He said his only symptoms were mild headaches. His wife, who also tested positive, was asymptomatic. Their daughter did not contract the virus.
"Obviously it was a scary situation for me, especially with my daughter, because I'm in constant contact with her every day and I'm playing with her all the time," Alvarez told reporters, including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. "It's a scary situation to be that close to your family and have the virus."
It did not take Alvarez long to make an impact. In his first at-bat of the season Friday night (GameTracker), Alvarez clocked an opposite field three-run home run off Mariners lefty Nestor Cortes. To the action footage:
Alvarez, 23, authored an impressive .313/.412/.655 (172 OPS+) batting line with 27 home runs in just 87 games last season. The Astros have struggled offensively this season -- Jose Altuve is hitting .165/.265/.333, for example -- and Alvarez's power bat will be a welcome addition. It certain was Friday night.
Entering play on Friday, the Astros were 8-10 on the season and in third place (4 1/2 games back) in the American League West. As a team, Houston is batting .238/.330/.403 as a team -- a far cry from the .274/.352/.495 MLB-leading slash line the team had last year. The club has also been hurt by pitching injuries, with ace Justin Verlander landing on the IL at the start of the season.
Alvarez had been working out at the Astros' alternate training site in Corpus Christi for two weeks before he was cleared to resume full baseball activities. To make room for Alvarez, Houston optioned right-hander Nivaldo Rodriguez to the team's alternate site.