The Pittsburgh Pirates will be without star shortstop Oneil Cruz for an extended period of time.
The Pirates announced Cruz underwent surgery Sunday night at Allegheny General Hospital by Dr. Greg Altman and Dr. Darren Frank after being injured earlier in the day against the Chicago White Sox. Surgery was necessary to stabilize a fractured fibula and “addressed the injury to the syndesmosis.” The TRIB’s Kevin Gorman initially reported that Cruz is expected to miss 10-12 weeks.
Cruz slid awkwardly into home plate and collided with White Sox catcher Seby Zavala, staying on the ground in pain while Zavala voiced his frustration regarding the slide. The Pirates are anticipating a return to action in four months.
Waiting on deck, Carlos Santana jumped into action and attempted to defend his injured teammate, which resulted in a dugout and bullpen-clearing argument. Zavala said postgame “it’s just a baseball play” and, “I think in a couple days everybody will forget about it.”
Benches cleared in Pittsburgh! pic.twitter.com/CBiJzLciX6— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) April 9, 2023
The 6-7 shortstop is one of the most talented players in all of baseball and will miss a major part of the 2023 campaign. Pittsburgh has begun the year 6-3 through nine games including a sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Cruz homered on Opening Day in Cincinnati and recorded eight hits in 32 at-bats, playing every game and totaling four RBI. The 24-year-old former top prospect slugged 17 home runs, drove in 54 runs, and stole 10 bases in 87 games after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis last season.
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette anticipates the timetable as Cruz being on schedule to return in a Pirates uniform four months from now, not beginning a rehab assignment.
The estimation slots Cruz’s potential return in the first few weeks of August, around 120 days from now. Cruz anticipated the possibility of a 30/30 season while in spring training but now is in line to miss 100 games. Mark Mathias reportedly has a locker in the Pirates clubhouse and will replace Cruz on the 26-man roster. Mathias, Rodolfo Castro, and Ji Hwan Bae figure to rotate between short and second base for the time being.
Pittsburgh hosts the Houston Astros Monday night in its first game without the young star and must find a new leadoff hitter for most of the season.