When you hit baseballs as far as Yordan Alvarez does, you need to refuel. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Yordan Alvarez is an imposing presence whenever he is anywhere near the batter's box. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve is still a hitter opposing pitchers have to fear. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Kyle Tucker is the next Astro who could be looking at a mega contract. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Yordan Alvarez is starting to hear more and more MVP chants at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve still drives these Houston Astros in so many ways. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Alex Bregman and Martin Maldonado know how to celebrate big moments. They produce plenty of them. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Framber Valdez works and pitches hard for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Trey Mancini can be a lineup lengthening bat for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Alex Bregman is a proud new dad of a baby boy. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve remains the driving force of these Houston Astros in many ways. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve continues to be the face and heartbeat of these Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Framber Valdez has shown flashes of being a future ace. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Trey Mancini gives Houston a very viable new first base option. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Bryan Abreu has become a very important arm out of the Astros bullpen. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Bryan Abreu has strikeout stuff. Now he's harnessing it. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa is finding out that life is not as sweet out of the Astros' winning cocoon. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena is still finding himself as a hitter. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Will Smith seems to rediscovering some of his once elite form with the Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros ace Justin Verlander is even having a little fun with the umpires these days. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa shared several moments in his return. But only Altuve is still part of a dominant winner. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros ace Justin Verlander is the Tom Brady of baseball. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Kyle Tucker rarely leaves a game without some dirt on his Astros uniform. Space City jerseys or not. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Kyle Tucker is capable of racking up steals. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
When Yordan Alvarez is smiling, good things are usually happening for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
This should be the time of Yordan Alvarez’s life. And in many ways, it is. His parents and younger brother are finally safely out of Cuba and in Houston, watching him play in person for the first time in years. He’s in the midst of a season that’s established himself as a likely future American League MVP. (Though everyone should have seen this coming years ago.) He’s newly rich — and set to be in Houston through at least 2028 unless something truly crazy happens.
Life is good. Even if Alvarez is not making home runs look as easy as he’s always made them look. The Astros’ hulking slugger only has one dinger in August with only four days (and three games) left in the month.
That type of rare Yordan power shortage is enough to focus attention on the hand injury that’s been nagging him since just before the All-Star break. It’s like seeing Thor without his hammer.
But the 25-year-old Alvarez quickly dismisses the idea of taking a break — and going on the injured list — when a reporter asks him about it after the Astros’ 3-1 loss to Baltimore Saturday night. Alvarez makes it clear he has little interest in any kind of sabbatical. Or rest. Tom Brady he’s not.
Yordan Alvarez has no desire for a few weeks off.
“That’s not something that we’ve spoken about,” Alvarez says of an injured list stint. “I don’t think anybody wants to go on the IL for any type of reason.”
Alvarez does get a day off Sunday after seeing a doctor, but initial plans call for him to return to the lineup on Tuesday in Arlington after the Astros’ Monday off day.
Alvarez has plenty to play for right now. The Astros hold a three game lead over the New York Yankees for the No. 1 seed in the American League in baseball’s vastly revamped playoff structure. That’s the only regular season race that still matters for this 81-47 Houston team. And it’s not an insignificant one, considering how hard it is imagine the Yankees beating Alvarez and Co. in the playoffs without having the home field advantage in the ALCS.
Then there is the matter of Yordan standing three home runs from setting a new career high for a season. He’s still in range of getting to 40 home runs and 100 RBI for the season too.
“Yeah, it’s something I’ve been battling with the last couple of weeks,” Alvarez says. “I’ve been getting treatment with it and those are some of the things that happen during a long season.”
Whether it’s all the hand or partly everything he’s been dealing with lately (including some overwhelmingly happy emotions and hard-won relief) or just partly the natural grind (and mini slumps) of any MLB season is something Yordan Alvarez himself may not even completely know.
Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in all of sports. Even if Yordan is used to making it look smashing them oh so matter of fact.
Reducing the Burden For Yordan
In truth, Alvarez deserves a stretch in which someone else besides him and Jose Altuve power this Astros lineup. That duo gets three of the four hits the Astros manage against the Orioles on this Saturday night. And for all the talk of his struggles, Alvarez does drive in the lone Houston run.
“It’s not a one-man offense,” Astros manager Dusty Baker says. “We’ve got to pick it up some kind of way. Until Alvarez gets his stuff back together. Nobody stays hot all year long.
“So I’m not worried about Alvarez. His time is coming.”
“That’s not something that we’ve spoken about. I don’t think anybody wants to go on the IL for any type of reason.” — Yordan Alvarez on possibly taking a break.
Alvarez is clearly getting more and more comfortable in Houston. His parents and little brother are here, something that brought out a different side of the big slugger. Alvarez also seems to be more comfortable saying what he thinks in sessions with reporters. Like not wanting that IL stint.
One of the most complete young hitters in the game — a student of baseball whose hard work has impressed his teammates from the beginning — has never been afraid of the moment.
To hear Yordan Alvarez talk about, the hand injury is just something else to be dealt with. Not something to slow him down.
“I don’t feel pain,” Alvarez says. “It’s just something that comes up sometimes and bothers me. But obviously I just continue to play.”
Yordan is not one for excuses. He’s battled too hard to get here, to America and the pinnacle of major sports superstardom, to allow a bothersome hand to dictate the rest of his season.
“That doesn’t justify the results I’ve been having,” Alvarez says of the hand.
If Yordan Alvarez has his way (and it sounds like this is Dusty Baker’s view too), he’ll swing on. And good things will happen. They usually do with this guy.