Yulieski Gurriel, the Cuban defector who settled into the first base job for the Astros last season, required surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand. He is expected to miss the next five-to-six weeks of action which will put him behind the others. In addition, Gurriel will have to sit an additional five games once declared healthy for actions made during last year's World Series.
Gurriel (far R) listens as Hinch talks
(c) Miami Herald
Gurriel's absence actually opens one of the better storylines in training camp as there are a host of suitors for the first base job until he returns. That continued through Saturday's 8-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Third baseman J.D. Davis seems the best able to take advantage of the situation. He is batting .400 on the young spring with two homers and four RBIs. He will get looks at third, first and left field according to Manager A.J. Hinch.
First baseman Tyler White is also off to a hot start, batting .333 with six hits. First baseman A.J. Reed, whom many hope can secure a job with the parent club, is so far batting .059 in 17 at bats. Unlike the others, Reed bats left and would give the lineup additional power and lineup balance if he can claim a spot.
On Saturday, Justin Verlander tossed three scoreless innings and fanned five. Rule V claim pitcher Anthony Gose, along with righthander Matt Ramsey, coughed up a seven-run fifth that decided the outcome.
In Friday night's 7-7 tie with the Mets, Gerrit Cole allowed one run in three innings but reliever Ken Giles ushered a five-run sixth that turned around a 5-2 lead. George Springer had his first spring dinger.
Thursday's 10-5 win over the Red Sox featured the third spring homer from Kyle Tucker who management has already declared will not open the year in Houston despite a .333 average and a club-leading eight RBIs.
Upcoming games will feature the Marlins and Cardinals twice as well as a split-squad twinbill Tuesday with the Mets and Nationals.
- Bob Hulsey