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First baseman José Abreu may be close to rejoining the Houston Astros. Abreu, who agreed to be demoted to the Florida Complex League on May 1, will play a few more minor-league games this week and could be called back up when the Astros begin a series with the Oakland Athletics on Friday, GM Dana Brown said Sunday on Astros Radio (via The Athletic).

Abreu, 37, hit .099/.156/.113 in 22 games prior to the demotion, which followed a career-worst .237/.296/.383 batting line in 2023. As a player with five-plus years of service time, Abreu could have refused the minor league demotion, which would have forced the Astros to release him and pay him the remainder of his contract. He signed a three-year, $58.5 million deal last offseason.

"You know what's been the hardest thing for me? And I say this from the bottom of my heart, I feel embarrassed," Abreu said after agreeing to the demotion (via ESPN). "The people in this organization brought me here to do a good job. I haven't done that. The hard thing too is that my teammates see that I haven't done my job, although they've always supported me, always been by my side. But I won't stay down."  

The Astros have not revealed what will determine when Abreu is activated, though it will likely have more to do with how he feels at the plate and perhaps some underlying indicators (exit velocity, etc.) than raw performance. Abreu putting up big numbers in a few minor-league games isn't going to tell the Astros a whole lot.

Since being demoted, Abreu is 2 for 9 with a double in two games in the Florida Complex League, which is rookie ball. It is the lowest level of affiliated professional baseball in the United States. Abreu has spent most of his time working with the team's hitting instructors at their minor-league complex in West Palm Beach, where the FCL team plays.

Jonathan Singleton, who stepped in at first base after Abreu was demoted, has performed well enough, hitting .211/.324/.421 with four home runs in 17 games since taking over as the starter. The Astros still owe Abreu a pretty significant chunk of change though, and they're going to give him every opportunity to show he can contribute.

The Astros enter play Sunday having won eight of their last 10 games. They are 20-26 on the season. Pitching, particularly the rotation, has been their single biggest issue. The offense has performed well even when Abreu was in the lineup.