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Sanchez Hurt, Astros Probably Not (Hurt By His Absence)

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Any way you look at it, the Astros are in for a rough spring. Before they even reported for camp, they're down two middle infielders as the Chronicle is reporting that Angel Sanchez is dealing with a rib issue. While he's not been ruled out for any concrete amount of time, the Astros are keeping a watchful eye on him and he will likely be limited at the beginning of training camp.

With Sanchez slated as the backup to Barmes and Hall in the middle of the infield, who might replace him if he misses any significant amount of time?

Jeff Keppinger  - Assuming he's healthy, Kepp probably gets slotted in before Sanchez in the depth chart anyways.

Matt Downs - The versatile infielder probably can't play short, but could fill in admirably around the rest of the diamond.

Tommy Manzella - If the Astros still believe in his potential, it'll be hard to make him a bench guy. But, without any other real options off the bench to play short, he might be there out of necessity.

Oswaldo Navarro - Made a positive impression on the staff last season, but not enough of one to stick around long-term. Is also probably stretched playing short, but could fill in there in a pinch.

Anderson Hernandez - Another guy Mills & Co. seem to like. Hernandez is probably only ahead of Navarro in terms of whether he can play shortstop, but provide a pretty solid glove at second off the bench.

Marcos Cabral - The only minor leaguer not listed above with a shot at getting a cal. His is about as long a shot as you can ask for, but he did play at Triple-A in 2010 and can play shortstop pretty well. Cabral won't hit enough to stick, but he could spell the Astros as a replacement player off the bench if they desperately need help.

In all likelihood, Sanchez won't miss much time, so this is a moot point. But, it does show that the Astros have a little more depth in the middle infield than last year at this time.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.