Grossman Suffers Tough Break

Pirates outfielder has surgery on hamate bone

PITTSBURGH—Outfielder Robbie Grossman's breakout season ended with the worst kind of break.

Grossman, a 22-year-old switch-hitter, was dominating the Arizona Fall League, but his season ended when he broke a hamate bone in his right hand Nov. 9 and needed surgery to repair it. He should recover in time to resume swinging a bat by next spring, though surgery on the hamate can sap a hitter of his power for about a year.

Perhaps no player's stock had risen more in 2011 than Grossman's, and his .375 average, .472 on-base percentage and seven home runs landed him among league leaders. He scored 20 runs and walked 20 times in 26 games as Mesa's leadoff man.

That was after he was named the organization's minor league player of the year after batting .294/.418/.451 with 13 home runs at high Class A Bradenton. He also became the first player in the minors to reach triple-digits in runs (127) and walks (104) since Nick Swisher in 2004.

"I'm just putting together good at-bats, figuring my swing out a little more and having fun," Grossman said before the injury. "That's what it's all about. To me, this has all been about getting better hitting lefthanded. It's something I've only been doing for a couple years. I'm feeling good about that, trusting my hands more from that side."

Grossman batted .382 from the left side and .357 from the right in the AFL.

The Pirates won't nail down minor league assignments for 2012 until spring training, but Grossman is a virtual lock to be with Double-A Altoona after three years in Class A. He was signed to an above-slot $1 million bonus as a sixth-round draft pick in 2008.

"I just took pride in the way I went about things," Grossman said. "To me, there's a right way to play the game, and that's what I try to do."

Treasure Trove

• Center fielder Starling Marte, one of the organization's top prospects, missed two weeks in the Dominican League because of a tight groin. Marte was batting .340/.392/.468 in 13 games for Escogido.
• Righthander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall draft pick in June, was 2-0, 3.00 through four AFL starts, but he was rocked in the league's Rising Stars Game, allowing five runs (including a three-run home run) in two-thirds of an inning.