Springer takes BP as rookie nears return from DL

Springer takes BP as rookie nears return from DL

HOUSTON -- Rookie outfielder George Springer, who hasn't played since July 19 because of a left quad strain, took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since he was injured.

Springer could be activated when the team opens a three-game series at Philadelphia next Tuesday, but that's probably a little optimistic, considering he still needs to go on a rehab assignment.

Springer was pleased to being able to get on the field, but knows he's got to be smart.

"It's tough," Springer said. "I want to be out here. I want to help these guys and help the Astros and I've just got to get healthy and get in there. The goal is to get back out here as soon as you can."

Astros manager Bo Porter said Springer has increased his activity every day.

"[Monday] he was able to throw and do a little shagging [in the outfield]," Porter said. "He's been hitting in the cage, and he's going to continue to hit. It seems like he's progressing well."

The Astros have definitely missed Springer's production. He had 20 homers and 49 RBIs in just 91 games since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma in the middle of April. Most of those totals came from the start of May onward.

Springer went on the DL a couple of weeks after starting center Dexter Fowler was disabled with a strained intercostal muscle, meaning Springer moved to center field from right. Enrique Hernandez, an infielder by trade, has been handling the job in center, so Springer's return should impact the team defensively, as well.

"I'm extremely excited," Porter said. "We kind of knew that the rest was going to get him back to a full bill of health. I think the time off was really good for him and he should come back and be ready to go the rest of the year."

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.