Ke’Bryan Hayes is still one to watch. It’s just that right now, everyone is watching the progress of his wrist rather than the power he generates with the flick of them.
Just 12 innings into his 2021 season, rookie sensation Ke’Bryan Hayes finds himself on the 10-day injured list.
Hayes is the third prominent Black Knight to be sidelined with an injury early in the season. Rookie of The Year Kyle Lewis is resting a deep bone bruise and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer has a left oblique strain. Both are yet to take the field.
Hayes left Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs in the third inning with soreness in his left wrist. X-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed some inflammation, causing the Pittsburgh Pirates to place their prized prospect on the shelf for the time being.
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) April 4, 2021
It appeared that Hayes first injured the wrist while drawing a walk during his first at-bat, facing the Cubs’ Jake Arietta. After fouling off a pitch, Hayes flexed his wrist before eventually drawing a walk.
“From talking to him when he was out at first, he caught the knob on the swing when he turned it over,” manage Derek Shelton said. “I guess the knob kinda got in his hand awkwardly.”
While on first, a pickoff attempt seemed to aggravate the injury more, but Hayes would come around to score the Pirates’ only run in a 1-5 loss.
Team doctors examined him again and decided to pull him in the third inning.
It’s a huge blow for the Pirates, who are in desperate need of the type of offense that Hayes provides.
Last season, Pittsburgh finished dead last in the National League in runs scored (219) and runs batted in (210).
In only 24 games, Hayes accounted for 15 percent of the team’s runs, and was responsible for five of the Pirates’ 20 homeruns.
It was his ability to hit to all fields with power, Gold Glove-level defense, and his baserunning instincts that had him atop many lists as the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.
Despite playing in just 24 games in 2020, Ke'Bryan Hayes led all rookies with 1.9 WAR per @baseball_ref. He had a 55.4% hard-hit rate & 18.1% whiff rate — no qualified hitter had a HH% that high with a whiff% that low.
He also played great defense ? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/3RRDOJGYaV
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) February 28, 2021
He flashed that on opening day, with his two-run homer that put the first runs on the Pittsburgh ledger for 2021.
The Pirates first home run of the year comes from rookie of the year candidate Ke'Bryan Hayes. The 2 run blast gave the Bucs an early lead on the Cubs in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/ryCNmVsI4t
— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) April 1, 2021
His mere presence in the lineup makes the Pirates better. Once he left the field Saturday, Pittsburgh could only scratch out four more hits over seven scoreless innings. Sunday, they dropped their second in a row to the Cubs after managing three runs on seven hits.
While the organization doesn’t feel that this injury will have a lasting impact on Hayes this season, it’s taking a higher than normal level of precaution with the player it intends to build around, especially when the Pirates aren’t expected to challenge for a postseason spot.
Better to slow down the ascension of one of baseball’s brightest young stars now, than to have it halted by a nagging injury that could lead to others.