Can this be a bad thing and a good thing all at the same time? On Tuesday, Houston got dealt some more bad injury luck in a season that seems to be all bad injury luck so far. Center fielder Justin Maxwell was hit in the hand by a pitch and left the game for Brandon Barnes.
#Astros put Justin Maxwell on the disabled list with a fractured hand.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 24, 2013
Here's the play as it happened:
After the game, Astros manager Bo Porter announced that Maxwell had a fractured hand and was going to be placed on the disabled list. Triple-A center fielder, a favorite of Astros fans near and far, was called up to take his spot in the Houston outfield.
Maxwell is hitting .234/.289/.390 this season with one home run, two steals in three attempts and eight runs scored. Maxwell also has been very good defensively in center field, totaling 1.8 Fielding Runs for Houston and 1 Defensive Run Saved heading into Tuesday's game.
Grossman, 23, was acquired as part of a package of prospects for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez last summer. The center fielder is hitting .317/.456/.333 in 18 games and 79 plate appearances for Oklahoma City this season. That included two stolen bases and a 20 percent walk rate.
In the short term, expect either Grossman or Brandon Barnes to fill the hole in center. If Grossman does get plenty of starts, he also makes a fantastic candidate to bat in the second spot in the lineup. With a great walk rate and some speed, Grossman would give Houston another leadoff guy in case Altuve can't get on base. Or, Houston could lead off with Grossman and move Altuve back a spot (which would be the optimal pairing).
This shouldn't be a lengthy injury respite for Maxwell. No time table was given, but typically, hand fractures can take up to six weeks to heal. By then, Grossman should be comfortably ensconces in the first season of his 10-year Astros career and can shift over to a corner spot when Maxwell is healthy.
I'm not even going to do that thing where I ask you what you think. I'll just assume everyone reading this is sad Maxwell is hurt and on the DL, but is also thrilled that Grossman is freed. I don't want to hear differently.
UPDATE: Brooks chimed in with an update on the injury. He confirmed that it should take about 5-6 weeks for the bone to heal, but had some more thoughts on what the specific injury (a fracture to the fifth metacarpal) might mean:
He may need a little extra time after he comes out of a cast to regain grip strength. That metacarpal is involved in a lot more movement required for different grips so he may have more grip strength loss than in other metacarpal fractures. Not nearly as involved as hamate fracture but worse than the other metacarpals.