Witt Jr. misses finale with wrist contusion

May 1st, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals scratched third baseman Bobby Witt Jr. from the lineup about an hour before Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium because of a right wrist contusion that Witt sustained Saturday night when he was hit by a pitch.

Backup infielder Emmanuel Rivera swapped in, playing third base and hitting sixth, as the Royals lost, 6-4.

Yankees reliever Clay Holmes went up and in with a first-pitch sinker on Witt in the eighth inning Saturday, and Witt immediately dropped his bat and grabbed his wrist in pain. Manager Mike Matheny and head athletic trainer Kyle Turner went to have a look as Witt walked to first base, but he lobbied to stay in the game. When the inning ended, Witt stayed on the field and finished the game.

The Royals closely monitored the soreness and bruising after the game and into Sunday morning. Witt was originally in the lineup, playing third base and hitting sixth, but once he got treatment and tested out his wrist hitting and fielding, Kansas City made the change to try to stay ahead of the injury and make sure it doesn’t affect him long term.

After Sunday’s game, the Royals were optimistic Witt would be ready for Monday’s game against the Cardinals. They optioned Rivera after the game ahead of rosters reducing to 26 on Monday, which shows their confidence in Witt’s health.

“Just had some weakness,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We knew he was going to be sore. Everything checked out good. But it wasn’t allowing him to finish his swing, so if it’s bothering you on your swing, it’s probably going to bother you on your throws as well. So, hopefully a good day and a little more rest and some rehab all game long, he’ll be in a good spot [Monday].”

Sunday is the first game Witt hasn’t played this season after making his MLB debut on Opening Day. And MLB’s No. 1 prospect is starting to heat up at the plate: He entered Sunday with a nine-game hit streak, tied with Seattle’s J.P. Crawford for the longest active streak in the Majors this season.

Witt is batting .314 (11-for-35) in that stretch after going 5-for-29 (.172) through his first 10 games, and his 16 hits are tied for second among first-year players in the American League, one behind Cleveland’s Steven Kwan.

“He looks like himself,” Matheny said. “I think there for a little bit, he was just trying to make things happen. … That’s completely normal for a veteran player, let alone a young one. He was trying to be over-aggressive at times, and our messaging is just continue to be you. Go back to what we know our strengths are and what you’ve done in the past that allowed you to have success. It looks just more like him.”