Astros' Alex Bregman gets brutally honest about health

Alex Bregman is back in a big way. His new documentary reveals how he got here. Composite image by Jack Brame.

When Houston Astros All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman absolutely crushed a deep-left-field home run on September 7 against the Seattle Mariners, the blast was more than just a game-tying play. It signaled the return of one of the most valuable players in major league baseball.

"That homer felt like, 'Yup, that's you. You're back,'" Bregman tells CultureMap. "It felt right. Those are the moments when you're ready to shine the brightest."

Bregman has been shining brightly since being sidelined with a serious leg injury (quadriceps). Gone from the team nearly the entire summer (June 16-August 25), the home-run slugger, ace infielder, and fan favorite rehabbed with the team and in the minor leagues with the Sugar Land Skeeters before making a triumphant return.

Now, in a stark, revealing documentary (not typical in the MLB), Bregman reveals the pain, frustration, and "grind" that the often grueling recovery took in No Sunshine: Reset. Rebuild. Rise.

In the new film, produced by Bregman, his partner Tyler Straub, and Will Stout through PHW Productions, fans can expect a quick-moving, brutally honest tale of work and recovery—not to mention a veritable clinic in what it takes to hit in the major leagues.

CultureMap caught up exclusively with Bregman to talk No Sunshine, his road back, and a season that almost wasn't.

CultureMap: Congratulations on your big return, the homers, and your documentary. Why was it important to you to invite fans and viewers into your personal and professional journey?

Alex Bregman: Thank you. I wanted to show everybody what we go through to get back to form from an injury and how brutal this injury really was—just the realness of the injury.

CM: This was so much more than just a leg injury. Can you take us back to how it all started?

AB: In 2020, I had a hamstring tear on my left side that I came back from, and just this last offseason, I had a hamstring on the other side. I hurt that hamstring again right before spring training ended. I kind of limped into the season this year.

Your body starts to compensate. Next thing you know, a month into the season, I hurt my left quad and we really had to just start from the ground up. We had to address every imbalance in my body — hips, hamstrings, quads, glutes — and start from scratch. That takes time and a lot of grind.

Right when we started out in the initial rehab assignment, I was worried more about running than I was about playing baseball. My second crack at it, I got back and said, 'you know what, my legs are healthy, I gotta trust it. Let's go.'

CM: "Let's go" is definitely an A-Breg motto, but you didn't always feel that way during the filmmaking process.

AB: Yeah, two or three times I was like, 'we're not gonna film this — let's shut it down and focus on rehab.' Somehow, Will kept the camera rolling and I didn't break it. [Laughs.] He captured the good, the bad, and the ugly — and all the people who helped me along the way.

CM: Speaking of all those people, you've been quick to point out that this was a team effort to get you back.

AB: My trainer Jeremiah Randle oversaw the process, but yeah, everybody from our big-league training staff to our Triple-A strength and conditioning staff helped out so much. It was a long rehab, but we made it a lot shorter than it should have been.

CM: Rarely in sports do you see athletes reveal this part of their career — maybe in the NFL with Hard Knocks. But almost never in major league baseball.

AB: I don't really know if this has been done before in baseball. I think baseball is finally opening up to letting the fans and showing them everything: uncut, unfiltered — here's what we go through on a daily basis.

CM: Excuse the pun, but your documentary really goes 'inside baseball' in regards to hitting. Can you describe the importance of lower-body strength in your game?

AB: You want to stay in the ground when you hit. You don't want to feel weak and be moving everywhere and be opening up when you shouldn't be opening up, or zigging when you should be zagging.

You have to be in your legs when you're hitting. It's finally nice to be in my legs again.

CM: Without naming names, many in your position on other teams would've just looked at all the injuries and just come back the next year.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn more.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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