Schafer ready to return to on-field action

Schafer ready to return to on-field action

HOUSTON -- The lower leg muscle strain that kept Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer out of Sunday's game against the Rangers had improved so much Monday he was available to play, but he wasn't in the starting lineup for the opener against the Cubs.

Schafer, who sustained the injury in the third inning of Saturday's game against the Rangers, said he sent a text to head athletic trainer Nate Lucero around noon Monday informing him he was ready to go. Alas, Brian Bogusevic started in center field.

"Everything was fine," Schafer said. "I can play tonight. I don't make up the lineup, but whatever [manager Brad Mills] wants to do. I can play tonight, though."

Mills said Schafer would be available to pinch-hit and pinch-run, unlike Sunday when he couldn't play. The Astros were short-handed on the bench Sunday and sent starting pitcher J.A. Happ to pinch-hit in the fifth inning of the loss to the Rangers.

"That's real good news and will help fill out our bench," Mills said. "[Sunday] we felt short-handed not having him."