Aaron Boone back after heart surgery

Third baseman Aaron Boone returned to the major leagues Tuesday, rejoining the Houston Astros just five months after having open-heart surgery.

“It’s good to be in this position and back here after all that has gone through in my life this year. I’m excited about it,” said Boone, who was activated off the disabled list.

Boone, 36, was not in Tuesday night’s lineup against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, but will play soon, manager Cecil Cooper said.

“He can pinch-hit, play tomorrow; there are a lot of options,” Cooper said. “I want to do it as soon as I can. I don’t want to wait too long, cut the suspense. I know he’s pretty anxious and everyone wants to see him out there.”

Boone signed with the Astros in the offseason, then had an operation on March 26 because of a congenital defect in his aortic valve. He has already completed a minor league rehab assignment.

At the time of his surgery, the 11-year veteran did not expect such a speedy return.

“Five months ago, no,” Boone said. “But I think fairly shortly after surgery and once I knew everything went well, I wouldn’t say it was a priority, but I certainly thought it was possible.”

Boone said he was impressed how much the Astros organization supported him through his rehab.

“Unbelievable. I’ve been blown away by how much they have been behind me, how much they supported me, how much they made this completely about me, I feel forever grateful to them by the way they have treated me,” Boone said.

Boone has played for Cincinnati, the Yankees, Cleveland, Florida and Washington, batting .264 with 126 homers and 555 RBI.

“It’s just remarkable that’s he’s come this far. I didn’t think he was going to be able to play this year. My thoughts was for him just to get healthy and live a normal life,” Cooper said. “He’s got some will and determination to get all the way back.”

Baseball backs off

ESPN and Major League Baseball have agreed to switch the starting time of a Yankees-Red Sox game to avoid conflicting with Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

ESPN said the Sept. 27 game was returning to its original start time of 1 p.m. EDT. It had been changed to 8 p.m. to accommodate ESPN’s schedule; Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and atonement, begins at sundown that evening.

“I am pleased we were able to resolve this sensitive issue that impacted many baseball fans and are able to move the game at Yankee Stadium to 1 p.m.,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., had sent a letter to Selig and ESPN president George Bodenheimer urging the game be returned to its original afternoon start time.

Short hops

The Los Angels Angels have sent minor league second baseman Sean Rodriguez to the Tampa Bay Rays to complete last week’s trade for Scott Kazmir. The Rays said Rodriguez will report to Triple-A Durham. … The St. Louis Cardinals gave contract extensions to closer Ryan Franklin (through 2011) and left-handed specialist Trever Miller (2010 with a vesting option for 2011). … Mets pitchers Johan Santana (bone chips removed, left elbow) and Oliver Perez (scar tissue cleanup, right knee) underwent surgery and are expected to be ready for spring training. … The Texas Rangers activated right-handed starter Brandon McCarthy and lefty reliever Eddie Guardado as part of their September roster expansion. … The Detroit Tigers recalled right-hander Jeremy Bonderman from his injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Toledo and reinstated him from the disabled list. … Colorado added former AL MVP Jason Giambi, who signed a minor league contract with the Rockies on Aug. 24, to the active roster.