Luhnow won't rush Gurriel to big leagues

Luhnow won't rush Gurriel to big leagues

HOUSTON -- Despite the Astros' offensive struggles -- they had scored seven runs in their previous six games heading into Friday -- general manager Jeff Luhnow said he didn't feel a need to rush Cuban slugger Yulieski Gurriel to the big leagues to help turn things around.

Gurriel, who signed with the Astros on July 16 after playing parts of 15 seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional, was hitting .385 (5-for-13) with two doubles and two RBIs in his first four Minor League games for the Astros. He's currently assigned to Class A Lancaster and is expected to be there through Sunday before joining Double-A Corpus Christi for a homestand that begins Tuesday. He could join the Astros within the next 10 days.

"With the offense struggling, I know there's some anticipation maybe he could come sooner," Luhnow said. "We're going to let him dictate the time frame, because, really, it would be the equivalent of putting a guy on March 4 in Spring Training into a big league game in a pennant race. That may be a little unfair to do to him and us. We're going to give him enough time to make sure that he's feeling good and that he's taking good at-bats. The wear and tear of a season, especially joining in the middle of a pennant race, the body's got to be ready for it."

Gurriel, who a signed a 4 1/2-year, $47 million deal, could make a sudden impact when the joins the team, but Luhnow wants to stick with the game plan set out.

"I reserve the right to pull him off of that at any point and take him to Minneapolis or Toronto or whatever," Luhnow said. "At this point, I want to see some more and hear from our coaches."

As for the Astros' offensive struggles, Luhnow understands the urgency of getting the bats in gear. The club has lost four games on the first-place Rangers in a week entering Friday's series opener and can't afford the lead to grow much larger.

"When you go through a slump like this over a 10-game period, it feels like the end of the world," Luhnow said. "Ten games ago, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We can just as easily come out of it with an 8-2 run here, so that's what we have to hope for and count on."

Like Gurriel, rookie infielder Alex Bregman was expected to inject some life into the offense when he was called up July 25, but he was 2-for-35 entering Friday. Slugger A.J. Reed, one of the team's other top prospects, is hitting .135 with two homers and four RBIs to start his career.

"We don't bring guys up unless our coaches and scouts and evaluators tell us their approach is good enough to work at this level, and I think obviously some adjustments have to be made," Luhnow said. "There's been a little bit of bad luck, a little bit of anxiousness. Those players are going to be very good Major Leaguers and it's going to start happening soon. I have no doubt about it. Hopefully it's this weekend."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.