HOU@TB: Fowler homers on the first pitch of the game

HOUSTON -- Dexter Fowler's absence due to a stiff back has lasted the weekend, as the center fielder missed Sunday's game -- his third straight.

"Just again, a tight back for him," said manager Bo Porter. "We'll follow the trainers' lead, and it's not something we want to turn into 10 or 15 days when it should be OK in a few days."

Fowler is day to day, and Porter emphasized he doesn't expect a disabled list trip for the veteran.

"Any time it's one of your everyday guys, it has to be significant time out before you start thinking about putting them on the disabled list," Porter said. "You would have to know they're going to miss 14-15 games."

Fowler is not known as a particularly durable player, but he had started 75 of Houston's first 80 games this season prior to the back issue. However, this is his second extended absence of the season after a stomach issue kept him out for four games back in April.

The Astros aren't keen to rush him back, considering the strain swinging and playing center field can put on the oblique and lower back.

"Whenever you start talking about that part of the body and the aggression it takes to swing the bat, it's not just swinging the bat and making contact," Porter said. "It's swinging the bat and missing the ball and having that torque on the body that can make it worse. ... He's getting better but it's not at the point we're comfortable running him out there."

Keuchel throws, hopes to make next start

Keuchel discusses recovery from wrist injury, ASG

HOUSTON -- There's not many things stopping Dallas Keuchel these days. You can scratch a soft cast off that list, too.

The lefty, who has been wearing a removable cast to immobilize his hand and reduce the pain, took it off and threw before Sunday's game after missing his scheduled Saturday start with inflammation in his throwing hand.

"The swelling has gone done, and the training staff is good with how it's progressed, so if they're comfortable, I'm comfortable," Keuchel said.

Depending on how the hand feels when Keuchel wakes up Monday and beyond, he could only miss the one start. He's especially keen, considering his splendid 2.78 ERA and de facto ace status in the Astros' rotation. For now, Keuchel and Astros manager Bo Porter are describing him as day to day.

Keuchel has no history of hand or arm issues, so a treatment of ice and rest has seemed to do wonders after a "scary" for the hurler.

"It flared up probably Tuesday, just sore, and I was able to play catch and throw a bullpen on Wednesday," he said. "As soon as I woke up Thursday, it was inflamed and I knew there was a bunch of fluid in there. I got an MRI and X-rays, but I had never had anything like this. I was real worried."