The Houston Astros will be without 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve for “a while” with a broken right thumb after he was hit by a pitch playing for Venezuela during World Baseball Classic.
The eight-time All-Star follows Mets All-Star closer Edwin Díaz to the injured list because of injuries during the WBC. Utilityman Mauricio Dubon, who batted .208 games last season, is expected to move into the Astros’ lineup to replace Altuve at second base.
“It appears it could be a while,” Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters Sunday at spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Altuve returned to have the thumb looked at.
CLEANING UP FOR JAPAN
Masataka Yoshida’s performance while batting fourth for Japan in the World Baseball Classic may have earned him the cleanup spot in the Red Sox lineup.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before the game against the Phillies in Clearwater, Florida, on Sunday that he is zeroing in on plans for the heart of his lineup with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez gone.
Yoshida is batting .400 with one homer and 10 RBIs for Japan, which will face Mexico in the semifinals on Monday night. He only appeared in two games for Boston this spring before heading to the WBC.
Cora said he is planning to bat Rafael Devers second and Justin Turner third.
The Red Sox are also looking for left-handed options for the bullpen to replace Joely Rodríguez, who is expected to start the season on the 15-day injured list because of an apparent injury to a muscle on his right side.
Cora said the best internal options are Ryan Sherriff, who has a 3.65 ERA in 44 innings over four seasons, and Oddanier Mosqueda, who was 5-3 with a 4.30 ERA in Double-A last year.
GOOD NEWS FOR METS
Mets outfielder DJ Stewart talked himself into another at-bat against the Cardinals on Sunday after bench coach Eric Chavez tried to tell him he was coming out after three hits in his first three plate appearances.
Stewart came up again in the seventh inning and hit a home run, completing the cycle.
“I was supposed to be done,” he said during a dugout interview on the Mets broadcast. “I wanted that last one for sure.”
Stewart tripled in the first, singled in the third and doubled in the fifth before hitting a two-run homer in the seventh. Official cycle records for spring training are hard to come by, but Stewart said it was the first time he had ever accomplished the feat at any level.
The Mets got more good news on Sunday when leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo said he hoped to be ready for opening day. With closer Edwin Díaz already out — likely for the season — with a right knee injury, Nimmo gave the team another scare on Friday when he slid awkwardly while trying to break up a double play at second base.
He stayed down for a few moments before limping off the field with medical personnel. But Nimmo said on Sunday that there was no structural damage and he is still hoping to be ready for the March 30 opener against the Marlins.
“I was relieved that it wasn’t more serious,” he said. “Just how awkward the play was, catching that cleat, a lot of things could have gone wrong. I’m fortunate we dodged a bullet.”
Nimmo batted .274 with a .367 on-base percentage and 102 runs scored last season.
PROFFER TO PROFAR
The Colorado Rockies have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jurickson Profar, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Profar will get $7.75 million in the deal. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract was pending a physical.
The former Rangers, Athletics and Padres outfielder batted .231 for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic this spring.
He hit .243 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs for San Diego last season and opted out of the final year of his three-year, $21 million contract with the Padres.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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