The Houston Astros activated right-handed pitcher Josh Fields from the 15-day disabled list late Wednesday night after their 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Fields who was injured in spring training, only appeared in six Grapefruit League games, pitching just five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out eight before being sidelined.
He will most likely make his first Major League appearance of 2015 on Friday, after starting the season on the 15-day DL with a groin injury.
Fields made five rehab relief appearances for the Fresno Grizzlies including a two-inning stint Monday night, when he tossed two scoreless frames, working around a base hit and a couple of walks. He held Triple-A batters to a .217 batting average.
The 29-year-old right-hander went 4-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 54 relief appearances and led all Astros relievers in strikeouts (70), innings pitched and strikeouts per nine innings. Last season was his second year with the Astros after being selected in the Rule 5 Major League Draft in 2012. Fields has turned out to be one of the best Rule 5 picks in franchise history.
Last year Fields quietly ranked eighth among American League relievers in wins above replacement (1.5), the highest WAR by an Astros reliever since Dan Wheeler posted the same mark in 2006. Before his injury, he was considered a potential option to be the Astros closer.
Fields signed a one-year deal in March for $517,000. He will be a free agent at the end of this season. Fields will return to Houston trying to pitch to earn a longer and more lucrative contract at the end of this season.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Astros optioned utility infielder Jonathan Villar to Triple-A Fresno. The 23- year-old was hitting .077, with just one hit in 13 at-bats over seven games this season.
The Astros have decided to carry 13 pitchers for now, limiting their options off the bench which is interesting considering the lack of offense they have generated this season.
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