Astros lose center fielder Justin Maxwell to a fractured hand

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The Astros got a win over the Mariners on Tuesday to improve to 6-14 on the season, but they announced afterwards that center fielder Justin Maxwell suffered a fractured hand in the game.

Maxwell was injured on a bases-loaded HBP in the third. It scored the Astros’ third and final run of the game in the 3-2 victory.

The 29-year-old Maxwell had started all 20 games in center field for the Astros this season, hitting .234 with one homer and six RBI. A long history of injuries stalled his development throughout his 20s, but he has found a home in Houston, hitting 19 homers in 392 at-bats since being picked up from the Yankees last year.

With Maxwell sidelined, probably for at least a month, the Astros figure to go to Brandon Barnes and maybe Rick Ankiel in center. Barnes has been a nice surprise dating back to spring training, and is 9-for-26 with a homer off the bench this year. Robbie Grossman was called up to help out.

Maxwell, for what it’s worth, is taking it well:

 

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics