Correa hoping to return to lineup today

Correa hoping to return to lineup today

HOUSTON -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said he expects to be in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Correa missed his third consecutive game Wednesday with a bruised right hand, suffered when he was hit by a pitch Saturday.

"I'm feeling great," said Correa, who underwent an MRI on Tuesday in Houston after he wasn't progressing as well as he would have liked. "I should be in the lineup [Thursday]. I feel really good getting a couple of swings in, and I'll be able to pinch-hit tonight just in case I'm needed."

Correa said he took 25 swings in the batting cage earlier Wednesday -- both off a tee and from flips -- and noticed marked improvement with the hand.

"It feels great and I want to be back out there," he said. "We're still a little short, but with the treatment I'm getting tomorrow, I'm going to be ready to be back in action."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to see how Correa came through the baseball drills he did on the field pregame before he made any declarations about his availability.

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"We'll see," he said. "That obviously means he shows up at the ballpark ready to go or a little bit better. He's got some questions to answer, but things are pointing in the right direction. Today is a big day for him to get into baseball again."

Correa said he underwent an MRI on Tuesday in Houston to give himself peace of mind.

"I was getting the treatment and knowing that everything was fine. It was more mental than anything," he said.

Correa is hitting .234 this season but doesn't have an extra-base hit since his Opening Day home run. He's 3-for-14 in his career against Thursday's Angels starter, Matt Shoemaker, with one double and three strikeouts.

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.