Albert Almora Jr. hasn’t played since August 10, and is currently on Iowa’s disabled list with a hand injury. The latest word from Des Moines reporter Tommy Birch is not necessarily encouraging.
In short, Almora recently visited a hand specialist to make sure that what was thought to be a relatively minor injury (thumb bruise) was in fact minor. Reading between the lines is never entirely safe, but the fact that the Cubs took this step would support the notion that his hand is not healing as quickly as might be expected if it were simply a bruise. Whatever the verdict of the specialists – Almora’s manager told Birch he hadn’t heard back yet – the fact that Almora needed to make the trip isn’t exactly encouraging.
In an ideal scenario Almora would be ready to go when September roles around; if he is, he should get quite a bit of playing time for the Chicago Cubs down the stretch. Almora could see time not only as a late-game, defensive replacement, but also could get periodic starts as the Cubs could start the process of resting their regulars in advance of the playoffs in the second half of September.
As with their big league regulars, the Cubs can afford to be extra cautious right now with Almora’s recovery.
It would be especially nice, though, if Almora is at full capacity in time for the playoffs. To be clear, he isn’t a lock to make the playoff roster, but I’m sure Joe Maddon would love to at least have the option of bringing one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball off his bench late in games when protecting a slim lead can be what it’s all about.
In 34 big league games earlier this year, Almora hit .265/.291/.422 (87 wRC+) and had 4 DRS in the outfield. At AAA this year, the 22-year-old is hitting .309/.323/.429 (96 wRC+).
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.