SEATTLE -- Jose Altuve couldn't make himself bigger, so made sure this winter to do whatever he could to make himself faster and stronger.
Altuve didn't play winter ball in Venezuela and instead focused on his conditioning. He showed up at spring camp 10 pounds lighter, but with some added muscle. It was all done to put himself in position to play 162 games.
"I didn't chill out at home," he said. "I worked hard this year. I did everything to be ready for the season."
Altuve entered Saturday leading the Major Leagues with 66 hits, and with 10 multiple-hit games in his previous 13. His 20 multihit games for the season were tied for first in the Majors with Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
"I know last year I hit a couple of ground balls that I should have been safe and I was out," he said. "I was in good shape last year, but I said to myself, 'OK, if you get in better shape, it's going to be even better and you're going to play more and feel better and you can do a better job.' That's what I did."
Altuve has also increased his plate discipline, entering Saturday with 14 walks and 18 strikeouts. He ranked fourth in the Major Leagues with one strikeout every 12.39 plate appearances.
"It's two-part," manager Bo Porter said. "It's the ability to recognize spin, understand pitch counts, but I think the mental aspect of it is even that much greater. I think that he's improved leaps and bounds in his mental strike zone, which has actually helped his development of taking a lot of those close pitches and understanding when they really want him and when they don't. And he's OK with talking a walk."
Springer homers twice in return from injury
SEATTLE -- Astros manager Bo Porter invited George Springer to sit alongside him in the dugout Saturday afternoon for his daily pregame chat with the media. Springer jokingly provided some details about how he told Porter he was ready to rejoin the lineup.
"I in the training room and I told him 'Springer nine,'" he said. "He didn't know what that meant, and I told him 'I'm going to play nine today.'"
"I asked him if he wanted to hit ninth, and he said 'No,'" Porter responded.
Springer was all smiles upon returning to the lineup after missing two games with a strained right hip flexor. He was in right field, batting second, belting a pair of two-run homers to erase any doubt about his health.
When asked before the game if it felt better than he did on Friday, Springer said with a smile: "I'm in there."
Springer did some agility work in the outfield with head athletic trainer Nate Lucero and outfield instructor Tarrik Brock earlier in the day before he was given the green light to play.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm in there. That's all that matters. I get to play baseball today."
Springer suffered the injury in the ninth inning Wednesday in Anaheim when he dived back into first base on a pickoff. He entered Friday hitting.353 during a five-game hitting streak that included a homer Wednesday against Jered Weaver.
"He obviously makes our team better," Porter said. "I'm a little bit happier when he's in the lineup than when he's not in the lineup. Getting him back in the lineup is definitely a boost for our ballclub."
Peacock eyes next start after successful session
SEATTLE -- It's all systems go for right-hander Brad Peacock, who threw in the bullpen Saturday at Safeco Field without any issues. The Astros skipped Peacock in the rotation Friday because he was dealing with right forearm soreness.
"I felt awesome," he said. "It went really good. I was throwing everything, so I feel back to normal."
Peacock admitted he was worried about the pain and soreness, and the Astros wanted to play it safe by giving him some extra time. He's scheduled to return to the rotation Thursday when the Astros open a homestand against the Orioles.
After four relief appearances to start the season, he's made six starts and posted a 4.58 ERA. He's thrown at least six innings in his last four starts, striking out career-high 11 batters May 12. The Astros called up Rudy Owens to start for Peacock on Friday and then immediately shipped him back to Triple-A. Lefty Brett Oberholtzer was called up to start Saturday, giving each of the starters an extra day of rest.
Astros don rainbow jerseys in celebration of '79
SEATTLE -- The Mariners celebrated the year 1979 on Saturday night, with both teams wearing throwback uniforms from that season. The Astros broke out the rainbow jerseys, complete with orange helmets, jersey numbers on the front of the pants and blue stirrups.
"I like them," relief pitcher Tony Sipp said. "Guys are going to be like 50-50 as far as whether they like them or don't like them. I don't know how they feel [to wear], but I like the look."
The Mariners hosted baseball's 50th All-Star Game at the Kingdome in 1979. The Astros went 89-73 that season and hit only 49 home runs the entire year, with Jose Cruz leading the team with nine. The Astros wore the rainbow jerseys from 1975-86.
"Everybody knows these jerseys across the board, baseball fans," outfielder Alex Presley said. "Some people hate them, some people love them. It will be pretty cool to wear them. We have loud colors, even louder today I guess."
Since the throwback uniforms were part of a Mariners promotion, they paid for them and took possession of them after the game. Astros players who wanted a jersey could order one, and Sipp was among them. He ordered two -- one for him and one for his agent.