Maxwell not a given in center when he returns

Maxwell not a given in center when he returns

HOUSTON -- Despite weeks of talk to the contrary, Justin Maxwell may not be the starting center fielder for the Astros when he finishes his rehab assignment from a fractured left hand suffered in April, manager Bo Porter said Friday.

"I'm going to say that he will start. I'm not going to say it will be at center field," Porter said. "Brandon Barnes has done a great job there. He will warrant some continued playing time in center. That's why we've had Maxwell play some places beside center field [during his rehab assignment]. It gives us the luxury of having the option for both guys."

Maxwell was called up to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday after struggling mightily with Double-A Corpus Christi. The 29-year-old recorded just one hit in 23 at-bats with the Hooks, but he was struggling through some stomach ailments and food-poisoning symptoms.

"[Friday] is probably the first time he's back at full strength, and we'll give him some time to prove himself," Porter said. "We definitely know what kind of player he can be, and we want to get him back here once he's ready."

Maxwell started exclusively in center field in 20 games with the Astros prior to injuring his hand on April 23. Porter said there is no timetable for Maxwell's return.

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.