The Houston Astros have shut down veteran outfielder/designated hitter Michael Brantley for an "indefinite period" after he was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation, manager Dusty Baker told reporters Friday, including Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. Last August, Brantley underwent an operation on the same shoulder to repair his labrum.
Brantley, 35, has not appeared in a big-league game since June 26, 2022 as a result. He had played in nine minor-league contests this year as part of a rehab assignment, and he seemed to be nearing activation prior to suffering this shutdown. Baker described the setback as "minor" in nature, per The Chronicle.
The Astros felt good enough about Brantley's shoulder to re-sign him last winter to a one-year pact worth $12 million. In four previous seasons with Houston, he had accumulated a .306/.368/.464 slash line (124 OPS+) with a pair of All-Star Game appearances. Overall, Brantley has batted .298/.356/.439 (117 OPS+) for his career.
Brantley's setback is suboptimal for an Astros team that could use the boost. Entering Saturday, they rank 20th in the majors in runs scored, as well as 25th in home runs and 22nd in on-base percentage. The Astros have given 14 players at least five plate appearances this season, and yet only three of them have an OPS+ of 100 or better: Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Chas McCormick.
Nevertheless, the Astros have begun the season with a 20-18 mark, good for third place in the American League West, three games back of the Texas Rangers.
The Astros are also without second baseman Jose Altuve, who hasn't played this season after suffering a fractured thumb during March's World Baseball Classic. He started a rehab assignment of his own on Friday night, suggesting he's nearing a return to the Astros lineup.