Lowrie feeling better, hopes to play Friday

Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie remained hopeful Thursday afternoon that he could be in the lineup for Friday’s Opening Day game against the Rockies at Minute Maid Park. Lowrie hit soft toss and hit off the tee Thursday and fielded grounders on the field and says his sprained right thumb is feeling better by the day.

“I felt great today,” he said. “It’s another step in the right direction, so I’m encouraged. It’s just one of those things that you just continue to go down that road and continue to progress.”

Lowrie sprained the thumb eight days ago and hasn’t played since. The Astros are debating whether to put him on the disabled list to start the season and activate Brian Bixler or keep Lowrie on the active roster with hopes he can play this weekend.

“I don’t want to count it out,” Lowrie said. “I want to wake [Friday] and see how it feels. They want to see me do a few things before they give it the OK and I’m in the same boat. I need to get into a few rounds of batting practice. Let’s just take steps forward every day.”

Astros manager Brad Mills said he’s made out his lineup for Friday’s game with Lowrie being ready to play.

“With as much as it has improved these last couple of days, there’s definitely a real good chance,” he said.

If Lowrie can’t play, rookie Marwin Gonzalez, a Rule V pick, will start at shortstop.

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