Venezuela deflated after Altuve injury, WBC withdrawal

Marly RiveraESPN writer4 minute reading

Jose Altuve leaves the game after being hit by a pitcher

Jose Altuve leaves the game under his own power after being hit by Daniel Bard.

MIAMI — Not only was it a blowout loss for Team Venezuela — ousted from the World Baseball Classic by Team USA on Saturday night — but the Houston Astros also lost All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve indefinitely after suffered an injury to his right hand during an at-bat.

Altuve exited the game in the fifth inning after Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard hit him with a 96 mph fastball.

Venezuela overcame a three-run first inning deficit and then went up four after Altuve’s injury, but all their efforts proved futile when Philadelphia Phillies Trea Turner’s eighth-inning grand slam sealed a 9-7 win for the Americans. placement in the semi-finals of the WBC. The Americans will face Cuba on Sunday.

Kansas City Royals catcher and Group D MVP Salvador Perez said he learned the extent of Altuve’s injury after the game.

“We were all anxious about what happened in the fifth inning, but we knew we still had to stay focused on the game,” Perez told ESPN after leaving the clubhouse at loanDepot Park. “And then we found out after the game that he suffered a fracture. And after he lost the game, it felt like a double loss.”

The Astros released a statement on behalf of general manager Dana Brown, saying Altuve was being evaluated for a right hand injury and would provide an update on Sunday. During the Fox broadcast, it was reported that the initial concern was Altuve’s broken right thumb.

Venezuela manager Omar López, entering his third season as Houston’s first base coach and 25th in the Astros’ organization, said he will wait for the club’s official diagnosis but is “very concerned” about Altuve.

“One of the things I was praying for was that all the guys that participated in this tournament come out of it healthy,” López said. “When he went down … it didn’t look good. It took (the coach) three seconds to take him out of the game and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ That was our momentum right there. We took the lead. And at some point, the whole dugout just went dead, like quiet. And we tried to get everybody to get up and move on because obviously he’s going to be fine. It was a tough situation for me.”

Miami Marlins new infielder and reigning AL batting champion Luis Arraez said while Altuve’s injury subsided, they knew they had to focus on a comeback against Team USA, which played the best baseball in the tournament. Arraez hit two home runs in Saturday’s loss, becoming the first Venezuelan-born player to hit multiple home runs in a WBC game.

“I was just trying to focus on the game, but it affected me because I love Altuve so much and I hope he gets better soon,” Arraez told ESPN. “But we never stopped fighting and we never gave in.”

It was the second significant injury suffered by an All-Star at the WBC Pool Game in Miami, after New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz suffered a ruptured patellar tendon while celebrating Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. He is expected to miss the entire 2023 season.

Perez, who was hit by several balls behind the plate Saturday night and was even examined by a Venezuelan trainer, hopes that won’t discourage Major League Baseball from continuing to host the WBC.

“These are things that happen, and injuries can happen in spring training. I got hurt in spring training. I had surgery for a spring training injury. Injuries are part of the game,” Perez said. “I’m fine and I’ll be rejoining KC on Monday. But the WBC is an amazing tournament and an amazing experience, and I hope it never ends. Representing your country is something unique and it’s far more than that, and I can confirm than playing the seventh game World Cup.”

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