4:22pm: James is back with the team, per Mark Berman of Fox 26. He was away from camp because he was awaiting the birth of his second child, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com was among those to report.
3:27pm: The Astros have placed five players on the injured list, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. 2019 Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez, right-handers Jose Urquidy, Shawn Dubin and Ralph Garza, and lefty Cionel Perez have all been shelved, though it’s not clear why in any of those cases. Rome tweets that Alvarez and Urquidy haven’t been present for the week-plus of Summer Camp to date, and manager Dusty Baker has attributed their absence to a “condition that prevents them from reporting to the field.”
Many teams throughout the league have had varying degrees of difficulty with regard to coronavirus testing delays, but it’s been a frequent issue for the Astros. Houston canceled last Monday’s workouts entirely, had no pitchers on hand yesterday and saw Alex Bregman miss a workout late last week due to delays in his test results.
As for Alvarez and Urquidy, their absence to date is especially troubling in its own right. That promising young pair’s health and well-being is of course the most important issue, but their importance to the club’s success can’t be understated, either. Alvarez immediately broke out as one of the league’s most feared bats last year when he hit .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers in just 369 plate appearances. Urquidy was all but assured a rotation spot behind Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr., having pitched to a 3.95 ERA (3.68 FIP) with a 40-to-7 K/BB ratio in 41 innings last year.
The Astros were already thin in the rotation behind those top three names, and McCullers carries some uncertainty himself, as this will be his first action back after 2018 Tommy John surgery. Urquidy’s absence could further create openings for some combination of Brad Peacock, Austin Pruitt and Framber Valdez on the starting staff. Right-hander Josh James has not yet reported to Summer Camp.