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Altuve may be out ‘a while’ due to hand injury, Baker says

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve seems headed for a lengthy stint on the injured list after being hit on the hand with a pitch while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

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 on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced a diagnosis. The player was to have his hand looked at by team doctors Sunday.

“It appears it could be a while,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said Sunday morning after Altuve returned to camp in West Palm Beach, Florida, according to a Houston Chronicle report.

It’s the second major injury in the World Baseball Classic, coming 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 left Saturday’s game against the United States in the fifth inning after being hit on the right hand by a Daniel Bard fastball. The Americans won 9-7 to reach the tournament’s semifinals. Altuve did not answer questions from media after Saturday’s game, saying only in Spanish: “All is good.”

Altuve is an eight-time All-Star, three-time batting champion and 2017 AL MVP. The career .307 hitter was a key part of the Astros’ two World Series championships.

Utilityman Mauricio Dubon, who batted .208 games last season, is expected to move into the lineup to replace him.

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