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Jose Altuve Injury Potentially Helps Texas Rangers Playoff Hopes

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve was hurt in Venezuela's loss to Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

The World Baseball Classic is over for Texas Rangers pitcher Martín Pérez after Venezuela fell 9-7 in the quarterfinals to Team USA.

And while Pérez is returning to Spring Training after disastrous final outing for Venezuela to continue preparing for the 2023 season, the WBC could have a lasting impact on the Rangers’ chief rivals and American League West race.

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, a Venezuelan teammate of Pérez, had to leave Saturday night’s game in Miami after being hit by a pitch on right hand by Team USA reliever Daniel Bard in the fifth inning. Altuve fell to the ground in pain and was escorted off the Venezuela’s medical staff.

Altuve suffered a broken right thumb and will miss 8-10 weeks, according to USA Today

The loss of Altuve, considered the heart and soul of the Astros, for any period of time is a tremendous blow to the defending World Series champions.

And a potential boon for the rest of the AL West.

The retooled Rangers, with a pitching staff led by Sunday spring starter Jacob deGrom and Pérez, are out to break a six-year streak of losing seasons and return to playoff contention. 

As for Altuve, his injury hit Venezuela hard.

“Of course I’m deeply concerned, sad, frustrated,” Venezuela manager Omar López said after the game. “I would like to express my emotions in a different way, but have I to be strong in front of you, in front of my family, in front of my country. Let’s wait for a couple of days. The Houston Astros will conduct the tests with Jose. I’m very concerned, deeply concerned.

“I asked God to give back the players to the organizations in a healthy way. It is easy to pray when things go well, but when things go bad, we have to pray and ask Him to give us strength and to desire the mental and physical recuperation.”

Bard, the Colorado Rockies closer, has struggled with this control before, and López told his hitters to be “patient at the plate.” Still, he was surprised by Bard’s approach against Altuve.

“I never thought that [Bard was] going to come up with a pitch inside-up ... to Jose in that situation,” López said. “Unfortunately, Jose wasn’t able to kind of recognize right away, and then when he went down, obviously the whole dugout didn’t look good.

“It took 10 seconds for Tomas Vera, my trainer to get him out of the game. And I was like, 'Oh, my God, okay.' We’ll see happens. I started to pray right away for Jose, for the entire team.”

Venezuela took advantage of Bard’s control issues to go up 6-5 in the fifth, but seeing Altuve leave the game was emotionally draining. Team USA would retake the lead on Trae Turner’s grand slam in the eighth.

“That was our momentum right there when we took the lead,” López said of Altuve’s injury. “And then at some point the whole dugout kind of died, like quiet, and we kind of pushed everybody to get up and move on because, I mean, he’s going to be fine, obviously, and we start to pray right away for him. It was a difficult situation for me.”

And especially for the Astros.

More From SI’s Inside The Rangers:

  1. Texas Rangers Terminating TV Rights if Bally Sports Goes Bankrupt
  2. Texas Rangers TV Uncertain in RSN Bankruptcy
  3. Texas Rangers Share WBC Injury Concerns
  4. Rangers Manager Bruce Bochy: Baseball Missing ‘Action’
  5. Rangers Ace deGrom Honest Thoughts on Pitch Clock, Organization

You can follow Art Garcia on Twitter @ArtGarcia92.

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