Albert Pujols did not play for the second straight day Wednesday, the Angels confident he can avoid the disabled list but reticent to push the 36-year-old's strained left hamstring.
"When a player needs a day off," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, "you don't want to just send him out there."
It's the first time in more than a year that Pujols has sat out two consecutive games. He started 157 games last season and had started 69 of the Angels' first 70 games before Tuesday. But the team does not plan on disabling him.
"I don't think we're there," Scioscia said. "We're definitely going to try to get him further ahead. It's going to take the time it's going to take, but right now we want to get it going in the right direction."
Pujols has three extra-base hits this month. He's hitting .234 with a .312 on-base percentage and .396 slugging mark overall in 2016, but he and Scioscia have insisted he will rebound from an extended hard-luck stretch. His .228 batting average on balls in play is fifth-worst in the majors among 170 qualified hitters.
"Obviously there's a mental and physical advantage to having him either not available or not starting," Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said. "I wish him well. I'm not sad about it."
With the Angels' designated-hitter slot open, Mike Trout started there instead of in center field. Trout leads the sport with 134 consecutive starts and trails only Houston's Jose Altuve among active major leaguers in consecutive appearances.
Left fielder Daniel Nava missed another start against a right-hander Wednesday, Scioscia opting instead to start Jefry Marte. Nava has started three of six games since he was activated from the disabled list last week and has one hit and five strikeouts in 12 plate appearances. … Setup man Joe Smith (hamstring) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session Thursday. He is nearing activation, which could come sometime next week.