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Astros' Altuve starts rehab assignment; Brantley has setback

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve runs in the outfield before a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

CHICAGO (AP) — Houston Astros star Jose Altuve is moving a step closer to returning from a broken right thumb. The news on Michael Brantley wasn't as encouraging.

While Altuve was set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday, manager Dusty Baker said Brantley will be shut down “for awhile” because of inflammation in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Brantley looked like he was close to returning after being sidelined all season. But the five-time All-Star remains out indefinitely.

Altuve broke his thumb when he was hit by a pitch playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 AL MVP had surgery March 22, and general manager Dana Brown said after the operation he’d be out at least eight weeks.

This is the longest Altuve has been sidelined. He batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season.

Mauricio Dubón has played well in his absence, with a .287 average entering Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Sugar Land was scheduled to play El Paso, San Diego’s Triple-A club.

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