HOUSTON — Astros first baseman Yuli Gorrell, who left Game 5 of the World Series early with a right knee injury, has been left off the team’s roster with a sprained right MCL and was replaced by rookie catcher Corey. Lee took it. Houston manager Dusty Baker said Gurrel ran onto the field earlier in the week to test his knee.
Dr. Gary Green, Major League Baseball’s medical director, confirmed the injury after speaking with the diagnosing physician. MLB postseason rules provide that a team may request permission from the commissioner’s office to replace a player who is unable to play due to injury.
“[Gurriel] Tried everything,” Baker said. “He came in yesterday and got treatment, came in this morning and got treatment and didn’t respond well enough to play. He tried to run, and with a guy with a hurt knee, the hardest thing to do is stop and then round the bases and make lateral moves. He tried everything. He was not crying but there were tears in his eyes. You could tell how badly he wanted to play. He just couldn’t do it, and we had to change him.
With a third catcher on their roster, the Astros started Christian Vazquez at designated hitter in Game 6, with Martin Maldonado behind the plate. Lee, who hit .160 in 12 games for Houston that year, was on the club’s playoff taxi squad. Baker said he thought about hitting Vázquez at DH several times this year. He only did this once because he didn’t want to take the chance of one of the two catchers being injured.
“No. 1, he’s a contact guy,” Baker said of Vázquez. “There’s a lot I can do with it. I tested it as a one-time look. I wanted to do it a couple of times, but I didn’t necessarily want if something happened to Maldi… Didn’t want to put the team in a position where I was going to lose. [the] DH and put a pitcher in there and hit the pitcher and went back to my National League days with just a four-man bench.
Gurrel injured his knee in the seventh inning in Game 5 when he was awkwardly tagged by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins during a rundown. The injury ended Gorell’s impressive string of 48 plate appearances without a strikeout this postseason, which ended in the fourth inning when he fanned Connor Brogdon.
Gorrell, who made the final out in Game 7 to win the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, was hitting .347 (17-for-49) with two homers and four RBIs in the postseason. 19 with an RBI in the World Series, including 6-for-1. Trey Mancini replaced him at first base in Game 5 and made a spectacular play to steal a Kyle Schwarber line drive at first base.
“Yoley has been one of our best hitters in the postseason, so obviously that stinks,” center fielder Chas McCormick said. “But we’ve got guys who know their roles, and we have confidence in everybody who’s going to be in that lineup. We’ve got a lot of good players on this team.
Astros Game 6 starter Framber Valdez has the highest ground ball rate in MLB and Gurriel is an excellent defender, having won a Gold Glove Award last year. So it stands to reason that there will be plenty of potential for Mancini at first base. Mancini is No. 1 because he has the most experience at the position, Baker said.
“It’s Mancini’s time to shine,” Baker said.