Yuli Gurriel replaced by Korey Lee on Astros’ World Series roster 

HOUSTON — Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who left Game 5 of the World Series early with a right knee injury, has been removed from the team’s roster with a sprained right MCL and replaced by rookie Corey Lee. Houston manager Dusty Baker said Gurriel ran onto the field earlier Saturday to test his knee.

Dr. Gary Green, Major League Baseball’s medical director, confirmed the injury after communicating with the evaluating physician. MLB postseason rules state that a team may request permission from the Commissioner’s Office to replace a player who is unable to play due to injury.

“[Gurriel] try everything,” Baker said. “He came in yesterday and was getting treatment, he came in this morning and he was getting treatment and he wasn’t responding well enough to play. He tried to run, and for a guy who’s had knee injuries, the hardest thing is to stop and then round the bases and have lateral movement. He tried everything. He was not crying, but there were tears in his eyes. You could tell how badly he wanted to play. “He just couldn’t do it and we had to replace him.”

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With a third catcher on their roster, the Astros started Christian Vasquez at designated hitter in Game 6, with Martin Maldonado behind the plate. Lee, who hit .160 in 12 games for Houston this year, was in the playoffs for the club’s taxi squad. Baker said he thought about hitting Vasquez at DH many times this year. He only did it once because he didn’t want to take the chance of one of the two catchers getting hurt.

“No. 1, he’s a contact guy,” Baker said of Vasquez. “I can do a lot of things with it. I did that once as an experiment to see. I wanted to do it a few times, but I didn’t necessarily want to, in case something happened to Maldi… I really didn’t want to put my team in a position where I would lose [the] DH and I put a pitcher in there and hit for the pitcher and go back to my National League days with just a four-man bench.”

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Gurriel injured his knee in the seventh inning of Game 5 when he was tagged out awkwardly by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins during a layup. The injury ended Gurriel’s impressive 48-game hitting streak this postseason, which ended in Game 4 when he pitched against Connor Brogdon.

Gurriel, who reached the final out in Game 7 to clinch the 2017 World Series victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, hit .347 (17-for-49) with two homers and four RBIs in the postseason, including 6-for-19 with one RBI in the World Series. Trey Mancini replaced him at first base in Game 5 and made a great play to strand Kyle Schwarber’s line drive at first base.

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“Julie was one of our best hitters in the postseason, so obviously it stinks not to have him,” center fielder Chas McCormick said. “But we have guys who know their role and we are confident in everyone who will be in that squad. “We have very good strikers in this team.”

Astros Game 6 starter Framber Valdez has the highest ground ball rate in MLB, and Gurriel is an excellent defender after winning the Gold Glove Award last year. So it stands to reason that there will be plenty of chances for Mancini at first base. Baker said Mancini is first because he has the most experience in the position.

“It’s Mancini’s time to shine,” Baker said.


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