MIAMI – Jose Altuve left Venezuela’s 9-7 quarterfinal loss to the United States on Saturday night with a possible broken right thumb after getting hit by a pitch in another injury setback at the World Baseball Classic.
The Houston Astros second baseman, an eight-time All-Star and the 2017 American League MVP, fell to the field after he was struck by the 95.9 mph sinker from Colorado reliever Daniel Bard in the fifth inning. He grimaced as he walked off with an athletic trainer, and Altuve was replaced by Luis Rengifo.
“The Astros will provide an update tomorrow after further evaluation,” the club said in a statement.
A Houston athletic trainer was concerned Altuve's thumb was broken but had not received a scan to confirm a break, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press speaking on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced a diagnosis.
Altuve's injury occurred three days after New York Mets All-Star closer Edwin Díaz sustained a season-ending knee injury during the postgame celebration of Puerto Rico's 5-2 win over the Dominican Republic.
Altuve did not answer questions from media after the game, saying only in Spanish: “All is good.”
“It didn't look good,” said Venezuela manager Omar López, the Astros first base coach. “It took 10 seconds for Tomas Vera, my trainer, to get him out of the game. I said, `Oh, my God.' We'll see what happens. I started to pray right away for Jose, for the entire team. That was our momentum right here when we took the lead. And at some point, the whole dugout kind of died, like quiet, and we kind of pushed everybody to get up and move on.”
Astros closer Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth inning for the U.S., which advanced to a Sunday night semifinal against Cuba.
“I’m pretty concerned about Jose,” Pressly said. “He’s a big part of our lineup in Houston. Just on top of that, he’s an unbelievable teammate.”
Bard relieved Lance Lynn to start the inning and was wild throughout, walking two batters and throwing a pair of wild pitches. The 37-year-old Colorado allowed all four batters who faced him to reached base as Venezuela overcame a three-run deficit to take a 6-5 lead.
“We know he has trouble with command, and the first thing that we said, just be patient at the plate. But I never thought that he was going to come up with a pitch inside, up and in, to Jose in that situation,” López said. “Unfortunately, Jose wasn't able to kind of recognize right way.”
Díaz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee and has surgery on Thursday.
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