Astros' Yuli Gurriel will miss start of season after hand surgery

Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel will miss the start of the regular season after undergoing surgery Wednesday on his left hand.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters that Gurriel is expected to miss five to six weeks, meaning he will be sidelined for at least the first week of the season.

Luhnow also noted Gurriel's upcoming five-game suspension for his racially insensitive gesture during last year's World Series and stressed that the Astros intend to look internally for a replacement at first base during Gurriel's absence.

"This is a minor setback," Luhnow said. "It will provide an opportunity for somebody on our roster to play in the big leagues while Yuli is recuperating. We knew that was going to be the case anyway for the suspension, but instead of five days, it might be 10 days or 15 days. Whoever it is who gets that spot is going to have more time to prove themselves."

The surgery, performed Wednesday morning in Houston, removed the hook of the hamate bone in Gurriel's left hand.

Luhnow said that the surgery corrected a preexisting condition that Gurriel had for at least the last few years. Gurriel did not start experiencing symptoms until recently, according to Luhnow.

Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch both mentioned Tyler White, AJ Reed and J.D. Davis as potential in-house replacements at first base. Utility man Marwin Gonzalez also will see more time at first base this spring, but Hinch noted that the Astros still "want to move him around quite a bit."

"We feel like we've got the guys internally," Luhnow said. "We have depth at the positions that Yuli plays, so it's not a matter where we have to go outside the organization at this point. It provides a nice opportunity internally."

Gurriel was scratched from Monday's game against the Marlins with what the team initially said was discomfort in his left wrist. Hinch clarified Tuesday that the injury was actually to Gurriel's hand, not the wrist.

Gurriel, a former Cuban star, is entering his third season in the majors. Last season, he batted .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.