In just his second game back since being activated off the 60-day injured list, Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies suffered a fractured right pinky finger in Saturday’s game against the Phillies. The injury occurred during a slide into second base in the fourth inning, and Albies was replaced by Vaughn Grissom at second base for the top of the fifth.
The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, though the fact that initial x-rays determined the problem before the game was over could indicate more than just a small fracture. It would seem like Albies’ 2022 season could be over, perhaps even if Atlanta made another run to the World Series.
Albies was a big contributor to last year’s championship team, earning his second career All-Star and Silver Slugger honors while also finishing 13th in NL MVP voting. However, Albies was off to a relatively slow start over the 2022 campaign’s first two months before he suffered a left foot fracture on June 13 and had to undergo surgery. As noted, Albies was sidelined until just Friday, when he went 1-for-4 with two RBI in Atlanta’s 7-2 win over Philadelphia.
The Braves have managed to thrive even without Albies for much of the season, and Grissom has somewhat unexpectedly stepped up as an immediate contributor after being promoted from Double-A a little over a month ago. Grissom has hit .304/.355/.482 over his first 121 plate appearances in the majors, leading to some speculation that the Braves would try Grissom in left field in order to keep his hot bat in the lineup. However, it seems as though opposing pitchers have started to adjust to Grissom, as the rookie has only a .607 OPS over his last 67 PA.
Nevertheless, in the wake of Albies’ injury, it would seem like Grissom will now again be the top choice at second base for the remainder of the regular season and postseason. Orlando Arcia is also on hand to provide depth, and Ehire Adrianza is also on hand, but currently on the IL himself due to a quad strain. Pat Valaika, Hernan Perez, and Ryan Goins are some of the Triple-A options with MLB experience, though Atlanta could have to add any of those players to the 40-man roster.
It was less than a year ago that the Braves overcame the odds by winning the World Series despite losing a star player (Acuna) to injury for much of the season and throughout the playoffs. While the book isn’t yet closed on Albies’ possible availability in the postseason, his absence for at least a few weeks will make it harder for the Braves to overtake the Mets in the NL East, and potentially capture a first-round bye. The NL East runner-up is all but guaranteed to be the NL’s top wild card team and thus is set to host all three games (if necessary) of the Wild Card Series, yet Atlanta would obviously love to avoid those extra games and an extra chance of elimination.