4:12 p.m.: Gurriel has a right MCL sprain, Astros general manager James Click told reporters (including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle).
3:33 p.m.: The Astros are one win away from clinching the World Series, but before tonight’s critical Game 6, the team switched rosters. Seeker Korey Lee was added to the roster in place of first baseman Yuli Gurrielwho suffered a knee injury in Game 5. Under league rules, Gurriel is now also ineligible for the remainder of the series, should the Phillies win tonight and force a game seven.
Gurriel’s injury occurred in the seventh inning of Game 5, when Gurriel awkwardly bent his leg as he was tagged in a scruffy play. Gurriel stayed at first base for the bottom half of the seventh, but Trey Mancini then pinch shot for Gurriel on his next scheduled board appearance at the top of the eighth.
There’s no indication that Gurriel’s knee is more than sore, but since he’s still not well enough to play after a day off, the Astros are taking no chances in leaving themselves with an understaffed roster. Despite the logic involved in the decision, there was understandably still some emotion involved in removing the longtime Astro from the roster. Director Dusty Baker said Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes and other journalists than Gurriel”tried everythingto be ready for Game 6, and had “tears in the eyes” of not being healthy enough to play.
This now creates quite an opportunity for Lee, who made his Major League debut in 2022 and has played just 12 games as a major leaguer. Lee hasn’t faced MLB competition since July 31 and hasn’t had any playing action of any kind since a Triple-A contest on Sept. 26. This is the first time Lee has been included in Houston’s postseason rosters, as Martin Maldonado and Christian Vazquez locked both capture positions.
Vazquez and Maldonado are in the lineup tonight, with Vazquez at DH and Maldonado behind the plate. (Mancini takes over at first base for Gurriel.) Lee’s inclusion on the roster gives the Astros additional flexibility at receiver, allowing Vazquez to switch to designated hitter. Understandably, the Astros are hoping to use Lee purely for depth purposes, as he’s unlikely to see any playing action outside of an injury situation.
With Gurriel now gone for the rest of the World Series, it’s possible he’s already played his last game in an Astros uniform. Gurriel, 38, is slated for free agency, and after hitting just .242/.288/.360 in 584 plate appearances during the regular season, Houston was expected to move on to another first base option for 2023. Indeed, the acquisition of Mancini (another free agent) at the trade deadline was an early indicator that Houston felt more production was needed from first base, although Mancini also struggled after coming from the Orioles.
If this is Gurriel’s last hurray with the Astros, he at least left on the strength of a very strong playoff streak. Gurriel has hit .347/.360/.490 with two homers in 50 plate appearances in these playoffs, and is the Astros’ playoff leader in batting average. Mancini’s struggles only got worse during the playoffs, as he has yet to register a single hit in 21 playoffs.