Houston Astros activate rookie SS Jeremy Pena from IL but Michael Brantley leaves game

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

NEW YORK -- The Astros activated rookie shortstopJeremy Penafrom the injured list Sunday, but star outfielderMichael Brantleyleft Houston's 6-3 loss in 10 innings to theNew York Yankeeswith right shoulder discomfort.

Slugger Yordan Alvarez was out of the lineup with an ongoing hand issue but appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth only to get intentionally walked. Alvarez hurt the hand on a swing June 18, sat out a game against the Chicago White Sox the next day and has played every game since.

Manager Dusty Baker said Alvarez's hand is still sore, and the 24-year-old may need regular rest. The issue hasn't affected Alvarez's performance, as he has hit four of his 22 home runs in the five games since the injury.

Pena, 24, is one of the leading candidates for American League Rookie of the Year but hadn't played since June 13, when he injured his left thumb diving for a catch.

He went 1-for-4 with a run scored and three strikeouts in Sunday's loss and is hitting .277 with nine home runs, six stolen bases and an .805 OPS while playing stellar defense at shortstop. He has been a worthy replacement for Carlos Correa, a two-time All-Star who left Houston for Minnesota as a free agent this spring.

Brantley was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before being replaced by pinch-hitterJ.J. Matijevicin the eighth inning.

McCormick is hitting .219 with six homers and a .684 OPS in his second big league season. His demotion allowed Houston to keep rookie Matijevic on the roster. Matijevic is just 2-for-16, but both hits have been home runs, including one against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Saturday.

Matijevic, primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, hits left-handed, while McCormick bats righty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.