9:43 PM: The “initial concernis that Altuve had suffered a broken right thumb, says The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweetbut it has not been confirmed whether this is Altuve’s actual injury.
8:56 pm: According to Astros GM Dana Brown, Altuve’s injury is to his right hand. The second baseman is now undergoing testing and the Astros will have more information on Sunday. (Hats for Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.)
8:48 PM: Jose Altuve was removed during the fifth inning of tonight’s United States/Venezuela World Baseball Classic game after being hit on the right hand with a pitch. The 95.9 mph sinker of Daniel Bard sailed up and down, catching Altuve and knocking the second baseman to the ground. Altuve was in visible discomfort leaving the field, with a team trainer supporting Altuve’s right hand and wrist.
More will be known about the nature of the injury once an official announcement is made to the media, and a more in-depth diagnosis will not be known until Altuve undergoes tests and imaging. Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game for Venezuela, it certainly looks like Altuve has played his last game of the 2023 WBC as the Astros no doubt want their old star back in camp for a fuller injury review.
Of Edwin Diaz‘s knee surgery still lingers in the public consciousness, it would be devastating to see another marquee name lost due to another significant injury in WBC play. A hand or wrist problem may not carry the weight of Diaz’s knee injury that may reach the end of the season, but in the worst-case scenario, a fracture or outright break could still mean a long-term absence for Altuve.
Altuve continues to excel as he approaches his 13th major league season, as he hit .300/.387/.533 with 28 home runs in 2022 as he helped the Astros capture their second World Series championship. 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 prominent names in the sport.
Houston’s bench depth was already a question mark given the relative lack of big league experience, and that could become an even bigger problem once Altuve is out. Nutman Aledmys Diaz signed with the A’s in free agency, and Houston was expected to use David Hensley And Maurice Dubon as the main utilities this season. Ryan Bannon was also claimed off waivers from the Tigers and Dixon Macado is in the camp for a minor league deal but in the event that Altuve faces a long absence the Astros could quickly scour the market for free agents available now or could enter the market as teams make their last make spring cuts.