In a move that should shock no one who's been following the team, the Houston Astros activated center fielder Justin Maxwell from the disabled list after Monday's loss to the White Sox. To make room for him on the roster, Houston optioned outfielder Jimmy Paredes to Oklahoma City.
Maxwell was hitting .234/.289/.390 with one home run in 83 plate appearances when he was hit on the hand by a pitch on April 23. Maxwell missed about five weeks with the injury and has been on two different rehab assignments since, with Oklahoma City and with Corpus Christi.
Paredes, 24, hit .190/.242/.274 in 31 games and 93 plate appearances this season. The former top prospect was hitting .366 with OKC before being recalled the first time, but struggled to find his groove at the plate in the majors. Couple that with his defensive lapses in right field and Paredes had lost playing time before Monday, making the decision to send him down very likely.
The question that the Astros must answer going forward is whether Maxwell retains his full-time starter status in center field now. Brandon Barnes played more and more at the spot, especially after another top prospect, Robbie Grossman, failed in his first big-league experience. Barnes has hit well, plays excellent defense and seems to be a favorite of manager Bo Porter.
How will the Astros handle the playing time going forward? Expect Maxwell to receive plenty of at-bats, since Houston has few players with his kind of power on the roster. However, where will those at-bats come from? Will he be playing right field or will Houston shift Barnes over there, given he's got a much stronger arm than Maxwell, according to the (early) defensive metrics?