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Altuve back in lineup for opener against Nats

Altuve back in lineup for opener against Nats

WASHINGTON -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who led the Major Leagues with 90 hits entering Tuesday, was back in the starting lineup against the Nationals for the first time since Thursday. He was hit on the hand by a pitch in that game and did not start over the weekend against the Rays in Houston.

Altuve was back in the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind Dexter Fowler.

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"I feel really good," said Altuve, who had a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning Sunday. "I feel 100 percent. I'm going to be ready to go and get on base and play defense to keep winning some games."

The Astros' lineup is clearly much more effective with Altuve in it. Entering Tuesday he had hit safely in 30 of his past 34 games and led the American League with 24 stolen bases. Defensively, he ranked third among Major League second basemen in total chances (320) but had made just two errors.

"It's always exciting when you pencil the big guy in the lineup," manager Bo Porter said. "We're happy to have him back. That was a scare, but the news was good right away with it not being a fracture and the soreness and the swelling is behind him, so he's ready to go."

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.

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