ARLINGTON, Texas — Astros All-Star slugger Yordan Alvarez went through some outfield drills before Houston played its series finale against the Texas Rangers on Monday, a day after he took swings in the batting cage for the first time since being sidelined by a right oblique strain nearly a month ago.

Shortstop Jeremy Pena (stiff neck) took some ground balls and was set to hit in the cage, though he missed the entire series against the American League West-leading Rangers because of neck stiffness.

When the Astros get home Tuesday after their season-long 10-game trip, right-hander Jose Urquidy (right shoulder inflammation) is set to throw live batting practice before their series opener against Colorado. But manager Dusty Baker said Monday that Urquidy won’t be throwing to injured outfielder Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) as had been the original plan.

Alvarez, added to the All-Star Game as a reserve after the player vote, was leading the American League with his 55 RBIs when he suffered the right oblique injury on June 8 while swinging a bat. He said Sunday that his level of intensity swinging in the cage was roughly 60%, and him working out on the field Monday was a clear indication that he came out of that with no issues.

“It’s a great sign to see Yordan take some fly balls in the field and throwing, which is directly affected by your oblique,” Baker said. “Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.”

Urquidy last pitched on April 30 against Philadelphia, leaving after 5⅓ innings with pain in the back of his right shoulder. An MRI a couple of days later showed inflammation.

Brantley has gone more than a full year since playing his last big league game on June 26, 2022. He had surgery in August, and the Astros signed him to a $12 million contract in hopes that he would return this season. He had a setback when he went on a minor league rehab in May.

“Brantley’s not going to be hitting because we don’t think he’s ready yet. Postponed a little bit longer,” Baker said Monday.

“He’s plateaued somewhat because we want to increase it, but then we don’t want him to have to go back. I’d rather have him plateau for a while than increase it,” the manager said. “We’re all in a hurry for him to get back. Nobody’s in more of a hurry than he, but we got to do what’s best for him.”

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Astros’ Yordan Alvarez takes another step toward return