Schafer to see hand specialist in Atlanta

Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer, who hasn’t played since injuring his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield March 18, was scheduled to fly to Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon to be examined by a hand specialist, general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

Schafer had hoped to return to the lineup Monday after taking batting practice over the weekend, but the hand hasn’t responded as well as he had hoped. He was held out of drills completely Tuesday. Schafer was diagnosed with a hand sprain, but said Saturday it’s more of an issue with the nerves in his hand.

“My sense is that by the weekend he’ll be back hitting and hopefully be in games by the end of the weekend,” Luhnow said. “We have to be cautious and if he feels any discomfort at all we’re going to take it easy on him. The goal is to have him ready to go on Opening Day.”

Schafer has had plenty of problems with his left hand in the past. He had left wrist surgery at the end of the 2009 season, and last year broke a joint on his left middle finger. He was on the disabled list with that injury when the Astros acquired him from the Braves last July as part of the Michael Bourn deal. Schafer is having a terrific spring and is hitting .391 (9-for-23).

Astros manager Brad Mills said he’s not yet worried about Schafer not being ready for Opening Day.

“As each day we go, those concerns probably grow,” he said. “As of right now, we’ve got a ways to go. If we get to Sunday and he’s not in there, it becomes a concern because he hasn’t faced live pitching.”


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