Astros second baseman Altuve signs through ’17

HOUSTON — The low-budget Astros have made an investment in their future, signing second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year contract through 2017.

Altuve’s deal with Houston announced Saturday covers his arbitration-eligible years and includes club options for 2018 and 2019. If the options aren’t exercised, he would be eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.

The 23-year-old Altuve was an All-Star in 2012. He is hitting .280 with 15 doubles, three homers, 28 RBIs and 21 stolen bases this season.

The 5-foot-5 Altuve has become a fan favorite and one of the few bright spots on a team taht has slogged through consecutive 100-loss seasons and looks to be headed for a third one this season.

He made his major league debut in July 2011 and blossomed last season when he hit .290 with 34 doubles, seven home runs and 33 stolen bases.


Locke to miss next start, All-Star game: Pittsburgh staring pitcher Jeff Locke will miss Sunday’s game against the New York Mets and sit out the All-Star Game after his back tightened up during a 2-1 loss to Oakland on Tuesday.

“It hasn’t happened before, that’s why I’m speechless,” Locke said. “I’ve never had anything pop up like this.”

Gerrit Cole will start in Locke’s place against the Mets, and National League manager Bruce Bochy will have to find a replacement for Locke on the 34-man All-Star roster.

The 25-year-old Locke has been one of the biggest surprises for one of baseball’s most surprising teams. The left-hander emerged from a heated battle during spring training to make the team as the fifth starter and has flourished. He is 8-2 in 18 starts, and his 2.15 ERA ranks second in the majors behind Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

Locke said he felt some discomfort toward the end of his seven innings of work against the Athletics. The symptoms lingered into Wednesday and flared up again during a weightlifting session.


Hardy to receive $500K raise for All-Star gig: In Baltimore, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy will receive an extra $500,000 from the Orioles next year as a reward for being selected to the All-Star Game, increasing the worth of his contract to $7.5 million. The bonus clause was inserted into his contract shortly before he signed a three-year deal in July 2011.

“It was kind of like a last minute, toward-the-end-of-the-contract deal,” Hardy said Saturday.

“It’s definitely not a bad bonus, but by no means is that the only reason I’m excited about going,” he said. “It’s an honor for fans to vote me in. It’s special.”

The 30-year-old Hardy won the fan balloting as the American League shortstop with 5,283,144 votes. Teammates Chris Davis and Adam Jones were also voted in, and third baseman Manny Machado was added to squad for Tuesday night’s game.

Hardy is batting .251 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. He had a .192 batting average with three home runs on April 29, but a 13-game hitting streak in May got him back on track.

This will be Hardy’s second appearance in the All-Star game. He started in 2007 for the NL when he was playing with Milwaukee.


rookie Puig out of lineup with sore hip: In Los Angeles, Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is out of the Los Angeles lineup because of a sore left hip.

The outfielder left Friday night’s game after four innings. His hip has troubled him since he ran into the fence making a catch on July 3.

Puig is hitting .392 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs.