HOUSTON -- Carlos Lee, who hasn't played since spraining his left ankle while playing defense on Friday in Cincinnati, proclaimed himself ready to play after fielding grounders during batting practice prior to Monday's game. Matt Downs started at first Monday against the Mets.
"It's a lot better," Lee said. "I hit some balls off the tee and hit some flips. It's not going to go away overnight. It's getting better."
Lee has been pretty much an ironman for the Astros, with the exception of missing the final six weeks of the 2008 season after an errant pitch broke his pinkie. He's averaged 159 games in four of his first five seasons in Houston.
Lee was starting to heat up at the plate before getting hurt, batting .462 in three games prior to Friday. He also is hitting .391 with runners in scoring position this year.
"I'm getting treatment quite a few times a day and doing everything I can to possibly try to get back," he said.
Meanwhile, relief pitcher Rhiner Cruz, who's dealing with a sprained ankle, was hopeful to be available Monday.
"My arm is hungry," he said.
Cruz said he'd like to face the Mets, the organization in which he played for five seasons.