Barry Laminack: Astros have options as Gurriel recovers from surgery
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.