Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who has missed the season to date after suffering a fractured thumb during the World Baseball Classic, has been cleared to resume baseball activities, according to the Associated Press.
Per the AP, no timetable has been established for Altuve's return to the Houston lineup, though he was originally expected to miss at least two months. That estimate would have him back around the start of June. (Bear in mind Altuve will require an extended minor-league rehab stint to shake off the rust.)
"I think right now it's hard to tell," Altuve told the AP when asked about his return schedule. "Anything is possible. I'm working really hard. I want to come back and help these guys to win, but we'll see."
Altuve, days away from his 33rd birthday, is an eight-time All-Star with a career batting line of .307/.362/.468 (128 OPS+). His contributions have been worth an estimated 46.5 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference's calculations.
The Astros have started the season with a 16-14 record during Altuve's absence, putting them 2 1/2 games back of the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Manager Dusty Baker has turned to Mauricio Dubón at the keystone, assigning him starts there in 20 of Houston's last 21 games. Dubón, for his part, has met the moment: he entered Wednesday hitting .305/.327/.390 (100 OPS+) with eight extra-base hits and three stolen bases in 105 at-bats.
The Astros are currently without a number of other notable contributors: outfielders Michael Brantley and Chas McCormick and starting pitchers Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers Jr., and José Urquidy. Garcia ( ) and Urquidy (shoulder discomfort) were both placed on the injured list in recent days after being forced to leave consecutive games due to their ailments.