10:08 am: As is typical with fractured hamates, Ramírez needs to undergo surgery, tweets Zack Meisel of the Athletic. He’ll undergo the procedure tomorrow, at which point there’ll be a further update on his recovery timetable.
8:54 am: The Indians announced today they’ve placed José Ramírez on the 10-day injured list with a fractured hamate bone in his right hand. Yu Chang has been recalled from Triple-A Coulmbus to take his place on the 25-man roster.
It’s dreadful news for a Cleveland club in the thick of the postseason mix. The Indians sit two and a half back of the Twins in the AL Central and are just one game clear of the Rays and A’s in a tight wild card race. They’ll now have to make that push without their second-best player.
The 26 year-old Ramírez got off to a stunningly bad start in 2019, but he’d really started to come along the past few months. Since June 1 (an admittedly arbitrary cutoff date), Ramírez had hit .286/.332/.571 with 16 home runs in 292 plate appearances. Even that hot streak wasn’t quite at the superstar levels Ramírez had shown the past two seasons, but he again looked like an impact bat who continues to dazzle both on the basepaths and defensively. Unfortunately, an apparently long-simmering wrist discomfort came to a head yesterday, when Ramírez left the game in the first inning after a painful swing.
The Indians didn’t announce a timetable for Ramírez’s return, although we’ve seen recent hamate fractures come with an initial four to six week timeline. Cubs catcher Víctor Caratini missed four weeks with a hamate fracture back in April, while Rangers’ outfielder Joey Gallo has yet to return from a July 25 injury of his own. To be clear, though, there’s no indication as of yet whether Ramírez’s injury is equally, more, or less severe than those sustained by Caratini and Gallo.
With Ramírez down, the Indians will again turn to the 24 year-old Chang. The Taiwanese infielder gets solid-average tools grades across the board from scouts, and ranks as Cleveland’s #10 farmhand at Fangraphs. Chang impressed last year in the Arizona Fall League, but he’s been a bit underwhelming this season at Columbus. In 282 plate appearances as a Clipper, he’s slashed .254/.323/.429 with nine home runs, failing to take advantage of the introduction of the MLB baseball to Triple-A the way some other hitters have. He’ll nevertheless give the Indians a capable defensive option on the dirt.
This will be Chang’s second MLB promotion. He was up for two games while Ramírez was on paternity leave in late June. He and Mike Freeman, who replaced the injured star yesterday, each started one game at the hot corner in Ramírez’s absence then, so it’ll be interesting to see how Terry Francona juggles playing time down the stretch.