Houston Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have been riddled with injuries to begin the 2020 MLB season. Fortunately, as their slide down the standings continues, star slugger Yordan Álvarez is closing in on a return.

Álvarez, the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year recipient, has been sidelined for undisclosed reasons since MLB returned from its COVID-19 suspension. With his club struggling, the 23-year-old’s bat could soon rejoin the lineup.

Latest news on Yordan Álvarez absence

While the Astros started their spring training 2.0 near the end of June, Álvarez was away from the team for undisclosed reasons. The slugger dealt with knee issues during the spring, but the team never revealed if an injury caused his absence.

A member of the inaugural All-MLB Second Team, Álvarez finally returned to the team and took part in baseball activities on July 24. Since that time, he has slowly been working his way back to get ready to make his 2020 debut.

Meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Houston’s skipper Dusty Baker said Álvarez is very close to a return and it could come within the next few days. However, the team will keep him as the designated hitter for the time being.

In his rookie season, Álvarez primarily served as a designated hitter. He made 10 appearances in left field with 74 starts as the designated hitter, with the Astros relying entirely on his bat.

Yordan Álvarez stats show impact he can make on Astros

The Astros have stumbled out of the gates to begin the shortened 60-game season. Entering Wednesday’s action, the club is 7-10 and has lost seven of its past 10 games.

Houston’s lineup has played a huge role in its struggles this year. After leading MLB in batting average (.274) and OPS (.848) last season, things haven’t been the same this season. Across 27 games, Astros’ hitters have combined for a .236 batting average with a .790 OPS.

Fortunately, one of their best hitters is on the verge of returning. Álvarez immediately started crushing baseballs upon making his MLB debut last year. He hit 27 home runs with 27 doubles and a 1.067 OPS in 87 games.

Álvarez will be a welcome addition to Houston’s lineup, but big problems remain. Justin Verlander is sidelined indefinitely, All-Star closer Roberto Osuna is likely out for the year and Houston ranks 16th in team ERA (16).

Once a team many thought would contend for the World Series, the Astros might struggle to make it to October this season.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick