Houston Astros’ second-baseman Jose Altuve fractured his thumb on Saturday night during a WBC game between Venezuela and the United States. It was announced by the Houston Astros this morning that Altuve will undergo surgery and that there is currently no timetable for his return.
A 95mph fastball struck Altuve from Daniel Bard during the fifth inning of the WBC game. Altuve says he knew the injury was “pretty severe” as soon as it happened. “Obviously, nobody wants to get hurt and start the season on the IL,” said Altuve, ” I want to control what I can control, and that recovers fast and get back to the team.”
This will be the first time in over a decade that the Astros will start someone at second base not named Jose Altuve. The veteran is entering his 13th season in the majors after coming off a terrific 2022 season in which he hit .300 with 28 homers, 57 RBIs, and a .920 OBPs.
Not only does the Altuve injury leave a hole at the second base position, but it also hurts the starting lineup as Altuve was the designated lead-off batter as he batted lead-off 137 times last season.
So what will the Astros do with Altuve injured? The Astros have some options to explore within their organization rather than signing a free agent. Utility players Mauricio Dubon and David Hensley are the most likely options to hold down second base with Altuve gone.
So far this spring, Dubon is batting .172 with a .200 OBP, whereas Hensley is batting .308 with two home runs and an OBP of .419. Dubon was acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Giants last season and had 30 career starts at second base. Hensley was drafted by the Astros in 2018 and made his big-league debut last August. Hensley has started at second base 78 times in the minor leagues.
“We’ve got to put our heads together and find out what we can do and who we can do it with, and for an extended period of time,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, “That’s a big loss. We have to come together as a unit and pick him up. I’ve lost some players in the past — a few of this magnitude. I’ve got to put my thinking cap on.”
This isn’t the only injury-related issue the Astros are facing right now, as Yordan Alvarez has just started to swing a bat this spring after dealing with a hand-related injury that has prevented him from playing any spring training games. Outfielder Michael Brantley also returns from an injury that sidelined him for most of 2022. Still, unlike Alvarez, Brantley has engaged in spring training exercises but has been away from the team to handle “family issues” as the team stated.
Houston, although its situation isn’t ideal, is still equipped with enough star power to handle itself until Altuve returns, which may be in early June, depending on how fast Altuve can recover.
The Astros will open the season against the Chicago White Sox on March 30th, and ace Framber Valdez will likely get the opening day nod to start the Astros title defense.
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