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Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hit on the field for the second straight day and is recovering from his broken right thumb more rapidly than expected. "I don't think we expected that," Altuve told reporters, including per, after hitting at T-Mobile Park on Sunday. He even put a few balls in the seats.

Altuve suffered the broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch during the World Baseball Classic in March. He required surgery and, at the time of the injury, the Astros said he would miss two months. He is six weeks out from surgery right now. There's no firm timetable for Altuve to begin a minor league rehab assignment, but his recovery is going as well as the Astros could have hoped.

Of course, Mauricio Dubón has done an exception job filling in at second base for Altuve. He had a 20-game hitting streak snapped recently and takes a .297/.317/.373 batting line in Sunday afternoon's series finale with the Seattle Mariners. Dubón has played every position other than first base and catcher in his career, so his versatility will make it easy to keep him in the lineup.

Altuve, who turned 33 on Saturday, authored a .300/.387/.533 batting line with 28 home runs and 18 stolen bases last season. He struggled badly in the postseason (.190/.242/.241 in 13 games), though the Astros are so good they won the World Series anyway. 

The Astros enter play Sunday with a 17-16 record and a plus-22 run differential. They are 2 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.