Backup catcher Humberto Quintero has left Astros camp and traveled to Houston to have his injured back examined by team doctors.
Quintero told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he’s “feeling better,” but players tend not to leave spring training and fly to another state unless the injury has people worried.
He’s hoping to get a cortisone shot and return to camp Thursday, but McTaggart reports that Astros trainers believe Quintero “could have some inflammation in one of the disks in his back, which could be pinching a nerve and causing discomfort down his right leg.”
Projected starter Jason Castro missed all of last season following knee surgery and is now coming back from a broken foot suffered in the Arizona Fall League, so the Astros can hardly afford to lose more catching depth.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.