Astros superstar was injured after being hit on the hand
The worst possible scenario came to fruition for the Astros last night. In a World Baseball Classic game filled with Astros, Jose Altuve and Team Venezuela battled Kyle Tucker and Team USA. While Team USA came out on top in a game in which Kyle Tucker went deep off Astros' teammate Luis Garcia and Ryan Pressly attained the save, it was Jose Altuve that is the most important story of the evening.
Altuve stepped into the box against Daniel Bard in the top of the fifth inning. Altuve was already 1-2 on the evening and dug in with runners on second and third with nobody out. Bard lost control of a 1-2 fastball that rode inside on Altuve. He wore the 96 mph heater on the hand and immediately went down in the box.
Ken Rosenthal reported during the game that Altuve had suffered a broken right thumb, while the Astros issued a press release that they will provide more information today after further evaluation.
Team Venezuela is managed by Omar Lopez, who is Altuve's first base coach in Houston. Lopez was shaken up after the game.
If it is in fact a broken thumb, the jury is still out on how much time Altuve will miss, with a multitude of historical precedents.
Bryce Harper missed two months last season after wearing a 97 mph fastball on the hand and undergoing surgery to repair his broken thumb, while his teammated Jean Segura also missed two months with a broken finger after initially being feared out for longer.
Various timelines exist, though it appears most likely Altuve will be out the next month-and-a-half to three months.
If that is the case, expect to see both David Hensley and Mauricio Dubon split playing time at second base. With Altuve on the IL to begin the season, maybe a Spring Training Surprise like Rylan Bannon can crack the Opening Day roster.
What will be interesting to follow is whether Baker bats a player like Tucker or Bregman leadoff without Altuve, or if he leaves his lineup as normal and bats whoever plays second leadoff as he has done in the past for Jose's off-days.
We'll keep you posted as more updates are announced.