PHILADELPHIA -- Maikel Franco's wrist injury is much worse than originally thought. The Phillies placed him on the disabled list Tuesday with a broken left wrist, and it seems likely his promising rookie season has ended.
"I don't think it's a future issue," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. "But we're going to be cautious with him. We have to be as cautious as we can. He's too important to us."
Franco was hit on the wrist with a pitch by D-backs pitcher Jeremy Hellickson on Aug. 11 in Arizona. X-rays taken that night did not show the fracture, and the Phillies believed the injury to be nothing more than a bruise. But as Franco's condition did not improve in the following days, an MRI exam this week in Philadelphia showed what Amaro described as "a very small, non-displaced fracture of his ulnar styloid," which is a small bone on the outside of the wrist.
Franco will be in a splint for the next two to three weeks. Amaro said Franco's recovery could be anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but the GM also acknowledged it could be longer. Combine the estimated recovery time with the fact there are slightly more than six weeks remaining in the season, and it seems the Phillies might simply have Franco focus on his health in the coming weeks and not rush toward a return.
"It's a big blow," Amaro said. "He's having a heck of a year for us. He's been playing great, a pretty strong force in the middle of the lineup. You can't do anything about it. A guy got hit and you've got to deal with it."
Franco had hit .277 (82-for-296) with 22 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 77 games since his promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 15. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would have the highest OPS among National League rookies.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr was recalled from Lehigh Valley to take Franco's spot on the roster. Altherr hit a combined .293 (127-for-433) with 32 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 67 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 111 games with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. He can play all three outfield positions, so he should have no problem playing during the week.
"He's going to get a chance to play," Amaro said. "It's time to find out a little bit more about Aaron."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.