FIRST PROBLEM

Barry Laminack: Astros have options as Gurriel recovers from surgery

Barry Laminack: Astros have options as Gurriel recovers from surgery
Yuli Gurriel will miss the start of the season after hand surgery. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Yesterday Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel had surgery to remove the hook in the hamate bone on his left hand, and according to Astros.com the procedure was a success. So much so that Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow was confident that Gurriel would return to 100% once healed.

"It's a pretty reliable surgery and we know what the outcome is going to be," Luhnow said.

Gurriel will start the season on the 10 day DL, and when he is eligible to return (April 8) he will have to serve his five-game suspension for the derogatory and offensive gestures he made toward Yu Darvish in the playoffs. But if Gurriel should have to miss a full six weeks (the high end estimate for a return) then don't expect to see him in the lineup until the third week in April. Add some more time on top of that, as it will take time to round into game shape (since he will be missing the entirety of the spring), and it's possible he won't be 100% back until mid to late May.

SO WHAT NOW?

The Astros have plenty of options when looking to fill the void that Gurriel leaves. Here are some that are on the table for AJ Hinch:

Most likely options

  • Marwin Gonzalez moves to first base, creating a platoon situation in left featuring any of the following:

    • Josh Reddick, Derek Fisher

    • In the mix: Tony Kemp, Evan Gattis, Tyler White

  • Another option: A.J. Reed or Tyler White take over first base - Reed (lefty) and White (righty) are the most likely two guys to fill the roster spot, with White getting the nod because of what he’s been able to do at the big league level vs. Reed.


Less likely option

  • Astros sing a free agent left fielder like Melky Cabrera, Jayson Werth, or Matt Holliday (who can also play first). - Signing a free agent isn’t likely to happen. Yes, it would give them another veteran bat and some quality depth, but I doubt the Astros would be willing to spend money on another stick...unless they could get a great deal.

  • Astros sign a free agent first baseman like Adam Lind (who can also play some LF). - See above note on signing a free agent bat.

  • J.D. Davis takes over at first base - Davis is a third baseman by trade, but did play two games at first.

I think the most likely thing to happen is that Tyler White fills the roster spot that Yuli vacates, but Marwin Gonzalez will get the bulk of the playing time at first, Reddick will slide to left, Springer to right and Jake Marisnick will get the bulk of the plaing time in center field.

Of course you'll likely see other guys in left on occasion, but based on the way Hinch did things last year this seems like the most likely scenario.

The bright side

No matter what Hinch decides to do, the bright side for Astros fans is that - thanks to a 100 game suspension for violating the league substance abuse policy - they don’t have to worry about seeing Jon Singleton out there kicking the ball around and waving his bat at the air until the end of may.

See kids, not all the side effects of marijuana are bad.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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