The Houston Astros received a scare yesterday when Jose Altuve was forced from their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was hit in the right hand while attempting to bunt. At the time, many expected a similar fate for Altuve as that of A.J. Pollock. The Diamondbacks’ outfielder suffered a fractured right hand on a similar play last month. Fortunately, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that Altuve’s X-rays came back negative.
There is still no word on whether or not Altuve will be able to return to the lineup today, but the Astros have every reason to be cautious. They are once again sitting in last place in the division and have no reason to rush a player’s return for any game. Granted, Houston, like most other clubs in the league, are within striking distance, not many expect their situation (seven games under .500 at the time this was written) to get better.
For Altuve to be able to contribute in the way the Astros want, they need him as healthy as possible. Every player deals with bumps and bruises throughout the season, but it’s the significantly limiting injuries that have to be avoided at all costs — you know, like injuries to a player’s hand. If Altuve needs rest, the Astros will surely give it to him. On the other hand, if he is perfectly healthy with no lingering effects, he’ll probably be in the lineup.
So far this year, Altuve is hitting .319/.361/.429. His value lies not in his power numbers though, but in his speed and defense. He’s been providing the Astros with some help getting on base, which is of course necessary for his most important skill. Altuve already has 29 stolen bases this season. That type of speed and base-running discipline is something that’s difficult to replicate.