Nationals’ Kyle Schwarber out with ‘significant’ hamstring strain

Kyle Schwarber
USA Today

WASHINGTON — Kyle Schwarber limped into the Washington Nationals’ dugout on Saturday with a heavy wrap poking out of the right side of his shorts.

Schwarber was in shower shoes and trying to be upbeat when meeting with reporters after being placed on the 10-day injured list because of a right hamstring strain. There is no timetable for his return.

“It’s not the best, but not the worst,” Schwarber said. “Just got to take it for what it is.”

He was among the hottest hitters in the majors, bashing 16 home runs in June, seven of them leading off games. All were critical for the Nationals, who went 19-9 in the month to turn their season around.

Schwarber said he does not need a procedure to repair damage to his hamstring. Instead, he will use compression treatment to reduce swelling. Rest and strengthening exercises will follow.

He has not had a hamstring injury previously. Schwarber tore two ligaments in his left knee in 2016. But a furious recovery pace allowed him to rejoin the Chicago Cubs for the World Series, during which he hit .412 in five games on the way to a title.

“That worked out,” he said with a laugh.

Schwarber said he heard a pop right before he reached first base in the second inning on Friday night. He hit a line drive into the right-center field gap and thought he could make it to second base. Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger cut the ball off, preventing it from rolling to the warning track, and forced Schwarber into an abrupt stop. He immediately reached for his hamstring on the way back to first.

An MRI on Saturday revealed what the team called a “significant” strain.

“A lot of thoughts go through your head,” Schwarber said. “You’re hoping it’s not bad. You know the kind of state the team’s in right now in terms of the injuries coming around here. The biggest thing that just popped in my head was hopefully it’s not too serious. It wasn’t the worst news I could get.”

Washington’s injured list includes starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Erick Fedde, relievers Tanner Rainey, Daniel Hudson, Kyle Finnegan and Will Harris, outfielder Andrew Stevenson, utility infielder Jordy Mercer and backup catcher Alex Avila.

Washington sent cash to the Kansas City Royals for Alcides Escobar, who has not been in the major leagues since 2018, on Saturday to provide infield depth. Starting shortstop Trea Turner jammed his left middle finger on Wednesday. He has not played since then, but has not been placed on the injured list. Escobar started Saturday night against Los Angeles.

The Nationals also recalled Yadiel Hernandez and catcher Tres Barrera from Triple-A Rochester on Saturday.

Gerardo Parra and Hernandez will play left field in Schwarber’s absence.

Astros star Altuve has surgery on broken thumb, a WBC injury

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve had surgery Wednesday on his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in the World Baseball Classic and will significantly delay the second baseman’s 2023 debut.

The Astros announced that the 32-year-old Altuve had the procedure done in Houston and will stay there to begin his rehabilitation, with only one week left in spring training. The Astros will fly there on Sunday following their final Grapefruit League game in Florida, before playing a pair of exhibitions against their Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, in Texas.

Altuve was hit by a pitch on Saturday while playing for Venezuela in the WBC. He might not be ready to return to the lineup until at least late May. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season. Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley are the leading candidates to fill in for Altuve at second base.

Altuve isn’t the only Major League Baseball star who was hurt in WBC play, of course. Mets closer Edwin Díaz will miss the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as the freak result of an on-field celebration following a WBC win by the Puerto Rico national team.


The Astros also scratched right-hander Hunter Brown from his scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Brown, who is ranked by MLB as the organization’s top prospect and competing for the last spot in the rotation, has discomfort in his lower back.


The New York Mets sent catcher Francisco Álvarez to Triple-A Syracuse, quashing for now the possibility of putting the prized 21-year-old on the opening day roster.

Álvarez, who made his major league debut with the Mets near the end of last season, had just three hits in 28 at-bats in Grapefruit League exhibition games. Ranked by MLB as the third-best prospect in baseball, Álvarez batted .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in a combined 112 minor league games in 2022 at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Mets have newcomer Omar Narváez, a 2021 All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, as their primary catcher with Tomás Nido likely to play mostly against left-handed pitchers.

Speaking of the Mets, Díaz turned 29 on Wednesday – a rather subdued milestone for the right-hander considering his situation. Diaz nonetheless posted in Spanish an upbeat message on his Twitter account, thanking God for another year of life and describing his health as good and his outlook as positive in this initial stage of the roughly eight-month rehabilitation process.