11:15am: Manager Dusty Baker told reporters (including Brian McTaggart of MLB.com) that Peña won’t swing a bat for at least a week. He certainly won’t be ready to return after a minimal IL stay then, but the Houston skipper said an MRI didn’t reveal any cause for long-term concern.
10:41am: The Astros have placed shortstop Jeremy Peña on the 10-day injured list due to left thumb discomfort. First baseman J.J. Matijevic has been recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land to take his spot on the active roster.
Peña didn’t play in last night’s win over the Rangers, and the club sent him from Arlington to Houston for further evaluation. The Astros haven’t divulged many specifics on the issue, but it’s apparently serious enough he’ll need at least a week and a half out of game action to recover. Aledmys Díaz got the start at shortstop last night, and he’ll presumably play there regularly for whatever time Peña is out.
A former third-round draftee, Peña has dramatically raised his stock since entering the pro ranks. He’d been an excellent player on both sides of the ball throughout his minor league tenure, emerging as one of the sport’s top prospects by the start of the 2021 campaign. Left wrist surgery kept him to just 30 Triple-A games last season, but Peña hit .287/.346/.598 during his initial crack at the level. The Astros had enough faith in his ability to handle MLB pitching they penciled him in as the Opening Day shortstop after watching Carlos Correa depart to free agency.
That was a bold call for general manager James Click and his staff, as Houston remains one of the league’s top World Series contenders. Yet Peña has excelled, more than rewarding the organization’s confidence through his first two-plus months in the majors. He’s hitting .277/.333/.471 with nine home runs across 211 plate appearances. The resulting 133 wRC+ is tied for third among the 28 rookies with at least 100 plate appearances, and he’s viewed as a Gold Glove caliber defender. Peña looks to be the early favorite for the American League’s Rookie of the Year award as a result, but his strong debut campaign will be put on hold while he rehabs.
Díaz is having a rough 2022 showing, hitting only .214/.261/.304 through 119 trips to the plate. He’ll be a marked downgrade from Peña with the glove, but his career track record at the dish is more respectable than this year’s performance would suggest. Díaz has hit .254/.316/.414 since landing in Houston in advance of the 2019 season. Mauricio Dubón and Niko Goodrum are also on the 40-man roster as shortstop-capable depth options. Dubón, who is out of minor league option years, is on the active roster; Goodrum was optioned to Sugar Land after a brutal start to the season and has been on the MiLB injured list for the past week.