With Yordan (oblique) placed on IL, how can Astros replace his production?

June 9th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- The tenor of the Astros season changed with a single at-bat on Thursday when aggravated his right oblique in his first at-bat against the Blue Jays, an injury that will keep him out for at least the next 10 days.

Now, the Astros will look to pick up some semblance of Alvarez’s incredible production. 

“You don’t have a choice,” manager Dusty Baker said when asked how the Astros can move on without Alvarez. “We just hope that it’s not more than 10 days. Life without Yordan isn’t very pleasant but at the same time we have to go forward and guys just have to pick it up.”

Alvarez said he felt oblique soreness on his final swing in the batting cage before the game and then aggravated it when he swung and missed twice in his first-inning at-bat against Jays starter José Berríos. He grounded out to first base and was removed from the game.

In 52 games this year, Alvarez had hit .272 with 17 home runs and a Major League-leading 55 RBIs, and had reached base in 19 consecutive games prior to Thursday. On Friday, Baker started in left field and at designated hitter.

In a corresponding move, the Astros recalled backup catcher César Salazar from Triple-A Sugar Land. Baker said that the move will allow for Diaz to get more reps at first base and DH. 

“He has some more flexibility to maybe DH sometimes,” Baker said of Diaz. “I’m going with the best lineup. Some days I might need more defense at first base. I’ll figure it out; it’s a day-to-day adjustment.”

Friday’s game was Dubón’s second game in left field this season. The utility player had not played the position prior to coming to Houston in 2022 but had logged 85 games in center field. He’s now played 10 games in left field with the Astros.

“He’s played left field before and played a lot of center field in San Francisco," Baker said. "I decided that left field would be better for him today. We’re going to move him around as much as we can.” 

Alvarez’s injury is the second injury to a star the Astros have had to weather this year, as second baseman missed the first 44 games of the season with a right thumb injury. Alvarez’s injury comes at a time when the Astros are searching for answers on offense, as the team has tallied two-runs or less in three of their last four games. But even with those struggles in mind, Baker and his team aren’t panicking just yet. 

“We’re not picking up the runs,” Baker said. “We had a couple opportunities to blow [last night's] game open, but we didn’t get it done. I know the guys are really trying.” 

“We still have some horses here, and we’ve got guys who come to play. We’ve just got to tighten our game up.”