Schafer testing left hand, wants to play opener

Schafer testing left hand, wants to play opener

Schafer testing left hand, wants to play opener
HOUSTON -- Center fielder Jordan Schafer returned to the Astros' starting lineup for Tuesday night's exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park.

Schafer had been sidelined for two weeks after injuring his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield. There was discussion whether he would have to begin the season on the disabled list.

"I'm going to take BP, see how it feels," Schafer said before Tuesday's game. "If I feel all right, I'll get in there and get some at-bats before [Friday's season opener]. I can't do any more damage to it.

"I definitely didn't want to start on the DL. I felt comfortable this spring. I feel I had some good at-bats. I definitely want to build on that. I can't force it if I'm not feeling good again and I have to change my swing because it's not ready yet. Then I'll have to take a couple more days."

Schafer said he wouldn't be completely healed by Opening Day.

"I'm not close to 100 percent," he said. "Am I good enough to go out there and play? I think so. That's what today's all about. Hopefully, it will be good enough that I can play and be productive. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, it will get back to 100 percent again."

Schafer impressed Houston manager Brad Mills in Spring Training.

"Jordan Schafer looked early in the spring like a guy who was on a mission," Mills said. "[Monday] night, Schafer was able to hit a little bit off some live pitching. He seems to feel good today. There's no reason to think he won't [be able to start Friday]. We've given him every opportunity to get better and given him so many tests to make sure he won't go backward."

General manager Jeff Luhnow compared Schafer to Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

The health of shortstop Jed Lowrie, who sprained his thumb last Wednesday, was still in doubt.

"I haven't talked with Jed today," Mills said. "I'm a little more skeptical with him."