December 1, 2023

HOUSTON — This much seems clear: Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez isn’t feeling up to snuff but is in the starting lineup for Game 2 of the ALCS on Monday with Houston trailing the Texas Rangers 1-0.

Responding to questions based on reports from The Athletic that Alvarez is dealing with a virus that has led to an upset stomach and headaches, Astros manager Dusty Baker was aggressively guarded in his responses.

Why is Alvarez in the lineup?

“His name is Yordan,” Baker said. “That’s No. 1. And plus, No. 2, the reports about him having a virus, I got a virus, everybody got a virus. So he’s fine. He’s better today than he was yesterday.”

Alvarez struggled in the opening game of the series, a 2-0 Rangers win. He went 0-for-4 and struck out three times against Texas lefty Jordan Montgomery. As well as Montgomery pitched, Alvarez might have been facing him at less than full strength.

“I mean, what is sick?” Baker said. “No, I’m serious. I’m not being a smarty.”

Baker was then asked about Alvarez’s specific symptoms.

“He’s fine,” Baker said. “He’s better today than he was yesterday. And like I was telling somebody yesterday, as a responsible man, a family man, you go to work, you know? And I never saw my dad in the bed, ever, sick, and I’m sure he was sick. And sometimes as a man you just go to work.”

And so Alvarez will go to work in Game 2, batting cleanup after hitting third in Game 1. He hit .293 this season with 31 homers and 97 RBIs, continuing his run as one of MLB’s premier hitters. He hit .438 during Houston’s ALDS win over the Twins, homering four times in four games.

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