Fowler scratched because of stiff neck

Fowler scratched because of stiff neck

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler was scratched from Wednesday's lineup against the Tigers because of a stiff neck. The team said he was removed from the lineup purely for precautionary reasons.

Fowler has appeared in three spring games, with one single in seven at-bats. Delino DeShields Jr. was inserted into the lineup in the leadoff spot to replace Fowler.

Fowler said he slept with his neck at an awkward angle.

"I slept on it wrong," Fowler said. "You ever gone to sleep and you didn't know you went to sleep? That's what happened. I woke up and I was like, 'Whoa.' I was driving this morning and saying, 'I can't really look in my rearview [mirror]. My neck is kind of tight. Let me get it rubbed out.' But I'm good now. I should be back tomorrow."

Fowler was acquired from the Rockies last offseason to play center and hit leadoff. He batted .250 last year with 12 homers, 42 RBIs and 19 stolen bases for the Rockies, with an on-base percentage of .369.

As soon as Fowler was acquired, Porter said Fowler would hit leadoff, ahead of former All-Stars Jose Altuve and Jason Castro. The Astros struggled to find a leadoff hitter last year, using eight guys, including Robbie Grossman 55 times, Jonathan Villar 36, Altuve 33 and Barnes 23.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.