Lowrie hopeful to play Friday

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Brad Mills held a brief meeting with shortstop Jed Lowrie prior to Wednesday’s exhibition game against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park to get a health update.

Facing a 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline to set the 25-man roster, the Astros are deliberating whether to put Lowrie on the disabled list to start the season. He’s been dealing with a sprained right thumb for a week and would miss the first six games of the season if he’s disabled.

Lowrie said Wednesday he was encouraged after hitting off a tee Tuesday.

“You know what, it feels a lot better than I thought it was going to at this point,” he said. “It’s only a week out and it feels like it’s been about two months. I’m very happy with the progress it’s made, and I think it’s just because it’s a muscle strain it’s about getting soreness and stiffness out.”

Luhnow said that if Lowrie is only going to miss the first couple of days of the season, the team won’t put him on the DL to start the year.

“If we thought it was going to be just a couple of days and get him back Sunday, we’ll probably keep him active,” Luhnow said. “We could set the roster today with him on it, which is the most likely event, and continue monitoring it day-to-day before we make the [DL] decision. If we knew he was going to go on the DL, we’d probably do it today, but since we don’t know we have some options.”

When asked if he was likely to go on the DL, Lowrie wouldn’t say.

“I’m not going to make those decisions, and the bottom line depends on how my thumb progresses,” he said. “Once again, it’s day to day. We’ll take it at that and leave it at that.”

As as the progression goes, the last few days have gone really well.

“I hit a couple off a tee yesterday and it reacted a lot better than I thought it was going to,” Lowrie said. “It surprised [hitting coach] Mike Barnett as well, so I’ve been able to take grounders and play catch and that last thing is just hitting. Obviously, the bat being right where the muscle is strained is the last hurdle.

“Considering how swollen it got and how bad it hurt, I’m really happy where it’s at. I’ve made a ton of progress in a short time. Four days ago, I could barely grab the bat. It’s bouncing back and that’s the idea, just to continue to take steps forward as opposed to doing something drastic and maybe having a setback. I want to keep that momentum going.”

Lowrie wants to be on the field when the Astros open the season Friday against the Rockies, but he’s not going to rush it and cost him time into the season.

“You work all spring and that’s what you’re getting ready for is Opening Day, but this is a marathon,” he said. “It’s 162 games. Friday is going to be exciting and I want to be out there, but I think it’s in my best interest and the club’s best interest to make sure it’s ready to go for the long haul.”

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