Jordan Schafer‘s sprained left hand continues to keep him on the sidelines. Schafer, who injured the hand making a diving catch nine days ago, has been sent to Atlanta to see a hand specialist. Manager Brad Mills remains optimistic that his centerfielder will be ready for Opening Day, but Schafer says “it’s more of an issue with the nerves in the hand.” That doesn’t sound good. Schafer should know a thing or two about hand injuries. He broke the middle finger on the same hand last season and had left wrist surgery back in 2009. Both of those injuries caused Schafer to miss a significant amount of playing time. The Astros can only hope this injury is not as serious, but I tend to get a little concerned when a player is sent to a specialist for a second opinion.
Schafer reported hearing a “pop” when the injury occurred and initial x-rays confirmed that nothing was broken. But the lingering pain suggests this could be something more serious than a sprain. I would imagine the next step is an MRI to see if all of the tendons and ligaments are still intact. I have to say I would be surprised if Schafer is ready by Opening Day. Even if nothing else is damaged and Schafer returns this weekend he will only have a few days to get his swing back. If it turns out to be a tendon or ligament problem a trip to the D.L. is almost a certainty.
J.B. Shuck has been getting the bulk of the playing time in center in Schafer’s absence. Shuck has had a good spring and would probably be Mills’ first choice to fill in for Schafer if the need arises. Mills has also talked about giving Brian Bogusevic and Brian Bixler some work in center. Hopefully the hand specialist delivers good news. We should know more soon, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.