Gattis a candidate to sub at catcher, but his own recovery a priority
By Jamal Collier
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Max Stassi, who had the inside track for the Astros' backup catcher role, will miss about six weeks after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a hook of the hamate fracture of his left wrist, the club announced on Tuesday. The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff in Houston.
"This is a tough break because he knew that there was a path for him to make this team Opening Day this year," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "But he's been in the big leagues before. He's suffered some adversity. He's still young. He has a bright career in front of him. He'll bounce back."
Stassi, 25, is entering his fourth season in the Astros organization. He appeared in six games this Grapefruit League season, batting .125, and owns a career .357 batting average in 21 Major League games over the last three seasons.
The Astros traded Hank Conger to the Rays this offseason, making Stassi the favorite to back up Jason Castro. With Stassi scheduled to miss at least three weeks of the regular season, however, the injury creates some uncertainty for the role.
Houston has three other catchers in camp, although none has Major League experience. Alfredo Gonzalez is on the 40-man roster, while Roberto Pena and Tyler Heineman are also here as non-roster invitees. Evan Gattis also has catching experience, but he's still recovering from sports hernia surgery and could begin the season on the disabled list. Manager A.J. Hinch said that getting Gattis healthy is a top priority, but Hinch would not rule Gattis out as an option after he returns to full strength.
"He's progressing; I wouldn't want this need to speed up his rehab process," Hinch said. "We need him healthy, and we need him healthy for the balance of the season. … He's an option as soon as he gets healthy; he just hasn't been cleared yet."
Luhnow said it is possible the club will also have to look outside the organization for help.
"We've got some time," Luhnow said. "There are a lot of organizations that have some extra catchers in camp, and no one wants to give them up right now because they could suffer the same situation that we're in, where one of your guys goes down.
"I think as we get closer to Opening Day, there will be some options for us and we'll probably look at those pretty closely."
• Astros right-handed starter Doug Fister was sent home early Tuesday with an illness.
Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.