Astros DH Yordan Alvarez is taking a few days off to rest his bothersome knees.
We’re barely into March and there’s already some concern surrounding the reigning AL Rookie of the Year. The Astros are giving slugger Yordan Alvarez a few days off to rest his sore knees, both of which have been bothering him, according to manager Dusty Baker.
Alvarez also dealt with knee soreness last season, though it didn’t seem to hamper his production at the plate. Despite the issues, he slashed a robust .313/.412/.655 with 26 doubles, 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 87 games. The club will be hoping for a repeat performance across a full season.
The Astros insist they’re merely being cautious at this point, which is smart. It’s better for Alvarez to miss a few days in early Spring Training than it is for him to miss regular season games. But the lingering knee issues will have an effect on his usage in 2020, and could have an effect on the rest of his career.
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Initially, the plan had been to get Alvarez some more time in the outfield this year. He started only nine games in the outfield last year, compared to 74 at DH. Getting him in the outfield more would allow the DH spot to be used to give other outfielders a half-day off here and there to keep them fresh.
But if he continues to exhibit knee issues, Alvarez will basically be confined to being the DH. If he continues to hit like an MVP, the team will be perfectly fine with that. But there’s a concern here that goes beyond just 2020.
Alvarez is still just 22 years old. The fact that he’s experienced lingering knee issues is not a good sign for someone his age. There’s a distinct possibility that the issue could last throughout his career, which would make him a career DH as long as he’s still productive at the plate.
That wouldn’t be the worst outcome in the world. David Ortiz made a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career out of being a DH, and Alvarez is certainly talented enough to be the Astros’ version of Big Papi. He just has to stay healthy enough to hit, which is sometimes easier said than done.
For now, it’s not time for fans to panic. The issue is supposedly minor and they’re just being cautious with their young slugger. But it will be something to monitor over time in hopes that it doesn’t affect Alvarez’s future.