21:43: “original concern” is that Altuve broke his right thumb, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweetsbut it has not been confirmed if this is Altuve’s actual injury.
20:56: According to Astros GM Dana Brown, Altuve’s injury is to his right hand. The second baseman is now undergoing tests, and the Astros will have more information on Sunday. (Hat tip Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.)
20:48: Jose Altuve was removed in the fifth inning of tonight’s United States/Venezuela World Baseball Classic after being hit in the right hand by a pitch. 95.9 mph sinker Daniel Bard sailed up and in, catching Altuve and knocking the second baseman to the ground. Altuve was in visible discomfort as he left the field as the team’s trainer supported Altuve’s right hand and wrist area.
More will be known about the nature of the injury once an official announcement has been made to the media, and a more accurate diagnosis will not be known until Altuve undergoes tests and imaging. Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game in Venezuela, it certainly looks like Altuve will have played his last game in the 2023 WBC, as the Astros will no doubt want their longtime star back in camp to get a thorough investigation into the injury.
With Edwin Diaz‘s knee surgery still lingers in the public consciousness, it would be devastating to see another marquee name lost to another major injury in WBC play. A hand or wrist issue may not carry the potentially season-ending weight of Diaz’s knee injury, but a worst-case scenario fracture or outright fracture could still mean Altuve will be sidelined for a long time.
Altuve continues his success as he approaches his 13th Major League season, hitting .300/.387/.533 with 28 homers in 2022 and helping the Astros capture their second World Series title. With eight All-Star appearances and the 2017 AL MVP award, Altuve has become the face of this golden era of Astros baseball and one of the most recognizable names in the sport.
Houston’s bench depth was already something of a question mark given their relative lack of big league experience, and it could become an even more glaring issue if Altuve is out. Utilityman Aledmys Diaz signed with the A’s in free agency and expected to be used by Houston David Hensley and Mauricio Dubon as the main actors of this season. Rylan Bannon had also claimed waivers from the Tigers and Dixon Machado is in camp on a minor league deal, but in the event that Altuve faces an extended absence, the Astros could quickly look to free agents available on the market or who may enter the market as teams make their final spring cuts.