The nagging right knee injury that has plagued Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez for the past year will result in season-ending surgery.
Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rockies that Alvarez will undergo surgery next week to repair a partial tear of the patella tendon in his right knee. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training next year.
The loss of the 2019 American League Rookie of the Year after he played in just two games this year is a gut punch for the Astros but being able to identify what’s been bothering him is a silver lining.
“You know, it's been bothering him for a while,” Baker said. “The diagnosis is different this time than in Spring Training. You're not really sure when it happened or if it just happened with deterioration and time. … We decided to do something about it now.”
Alvarez, who first started experiencing knee problems last year that lingered into the spring, missed Summer Camp and the first three weeks of the season while he was recovering from COVID-19. He was activated from the injured list Friday and hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat, driving in four runs overall. He was scratched from the lineup Sunday and didn’t play Monday or Tuesday.
The Astros will likely now rotate players through the designated-hitter spot in the lineup, a group that’s likely to include Kyle Tucker, Abraham Toro and Michael Brantley, the latter of whom is with the team in Colorado and expected to be activated from the IL on Saturday. He’s been out with a right quad injury that had been limiting him to DH duties since the first week of the season.
Still, Baker said Brantley prefers to play both sides of the ball, meaning Tucker could receive the majority of the at-bats at DH with Brantley (left), George Springer (center) and Josh Reddick (right) as the starting outfield alignment. Alvarez’s knee issues limited the amount of time he spent in the outfield last year.
Alvarez burst onto the scene last June and hit six homers in his first four games. He wound up hitting .313 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 87 games, becoming a unanimous choice for the AL ROY Award. His 1.067 OPS is a Major League record by a rookie in a single season and the sixth-highest by a player 22 years old or younger since 1900.
The Astros will have to wait until 2021 to see what Alvarez can do in a full season of work at the Major League level.