Astros’ Jose Altuve to endure surgical procedure for fractured proper thumb

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —  Twelve days earlier than starting their title protection, the defending World Series champion Astros sustained a seismic loss. 

Superstar second baseman Jose Altuve fractured his proper thumb throughout Team Venezuela’s quarterfinal loss within the World Baseball Classic on Saturday evening and can endure surgical procedure “in the coming days,” basic supervisor Dana Brown mentioned. 

Tests on the Astros’ spring coaching facility on Sunday morning confirmed the prognosis, which is able to sideline Altuve indefinitely. Brown didn’t provide a precise timetable for Altuve’s return. More readability will arrive after Altuve has surgical procedure later this week, Brown mentioned. 

“It’s a massive blow,” Brown mentioned. “You can’t replace a player like this this close to the season. These players don’t exist. You just can’t go out and replace this type of a player.”

Altuve sustained the harm after reliever Daniel Bard hit him with a 95.9 mph fastball in the course of the fifth inning of Saturday evening’s 9-7 loss towards Team USA at loanDepot Park in Miami. During a short interview on Sunday morning, Altuve acknowledged he felt the fracture instantly.

Altuve had his proper thumb wrapped in a bandage when he reported to the Astros’ advanced in West Palm Beach on Sunday morning to see crew trainers. 

“Obviously nobody wants to get hurt and start the season on the (injured list),” Altuve mentioned. “But I want to try to control what I can control, which is recover fast and get back to the team.”

Altuve completed fifth in American League MVP voting final season, his greatest statistical marketing campaign since successful the award in 2017. Altuve struck a team-leading 158 hits, had the membership’s second-highest on-base proportion and had a .921 OPS. Only Yordan Alvarez had the next one.

When he arrived in West Palm Beach final month, Altuve wore an nearly everlasting smile and appeared way more enthusiastic than in previous spring trainings. Winning a second World Series energizes anybody, however Altuve had one more reason for his happiness. 

“The smile on his face this spring, WBC has something to do with it. He really wanted to put the Venezuela jersey back on,” bench coach Joe Espada mentioned earlier this spring. “Jose is in a really good place. I always think that he comes to spring ready to play, but this year there was a different excitement: a different vibe to him.”

Altuve and Team Venezuela confronted the Astros in an exhibition recreation at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches earlier than starting pool play. Venezuela defeated Team Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to advance out of pool play and into Saturday’s quarterfinal recreation towards Team USA.

“We were having a great time,” Altuve mentioned. “We were playing for our country and excited about it. I got hit. I’m going to miss some time, but you just focus on the recovery and getting back to the field as soon as I can.”

Bard, who has a historical past of management points, didn’t retire any of the 4 batters he noticed. The Colorado Rockies reliever walked a batter and threw a wild pitch earlier than even plunking Altuve. Bard completed his outing with two walks and two wild pitches. On Sunday, Altuve mentioned he had not heard from Bard since he received hit. 

“We know he had struggled with command and the first thing we said is just (to) be patient at the plate,” mentioned Team Venezuela supervisor Omar López, who can be Houston’s first-base coach.

“But I never thought that he’s going to come with a pitch up and in to Jose in that situation. Unfortunately, Jose wasn’t able to kind of recognize right away, and then when he went down, obviously the whole dugout didn’t look good.” 

Major League Baseball carries insurance coverage insurance policies for gamers who take part within the World Baseball Classic. The insurance coverage will cowl not less than a few of Altuve’s wage whereas he’s on the injured listing, folks conversant in the method mentioned on Sunday. Altuve is scheduled to make $29.2 million this season. 

Altuve’s harm would require simply his sixth journey to the injured listing throughout a 12-year profession — and a type of arrived after he contracted COVID-19 in 2021. Houston can have a brand new opening day second baseman for the primary time since 2011, too. No one participant can exchange Altuve, so the Astros ought to flip to a pair.

Both David Hensley and Mauricio Dubón will see extra outstanding roles in Altuve’s absence. Both males are pure center infielders and will perform as a stopgap at second base whereas Altuve is on the mend. Hensley is the higher offensive participant, however Dubón is a extra seasoned main leaguer. 

“We’re going to look internally first. We’ve got a good core group of guys here. No matter who you go out and get, it’s going to be a lesser (player) than Altuve because he’s such a great player,” Brown mentioned. “We’ll exhaust what we have here in the organization because we do have some good players. We’ve always been interested in depth and sometimes to acquire that depth, you have to go outside the organization.”

A extra difficult resolution for supervisor Dusty Baker arrives atop his batting order. Altuve has cemented himself as Houston’s leadoff hitter throughout the previous two seasons, setting a tone few within the sport can match. He tied a franchise report final season with 12 leadoff residence runs and is liable to pounce on the primary pitch he sees: invigorating his dugout earlier than followers can settle in.

If Baker desires one other energy risk atop his order, Kyle Tucker or Jeremy Peña is a perfect candidate to hit leadoff. Peña hit leadoff throughout Sunday’s Grapefruit League recreation towards the Marlins, which the Astros performed whereas information of Altuve’s prognosis grew to become public.

Before it did, Baker started his morning in a extra hopeful temper. He met with three reporters exterior Houston’s spring coaching facility out of uniform, carrying a shirt with “Aloha” throughout the chest.

“For bringing some good vibes and good times,” Baker mentioned. “When the news happened, I was a little down, naturally. But it’s OK to get down — you just can’t stay down. We have to come together as a group and a unit, try to chip in and make up for his absence.”

“It’s not a pleasant situation. I was down about it, but that’s life. It’s OK to get down, like my dad told me, you just don’t stay down. You find a way.”

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