Tampa- One after another and injuries as it was last year for the Yankees. They set the MLB record for injured players last season, 30, and replacements were capable of getting them 100 wins and a AL East division title.
Four weeks from Thursday Opening Day looks like a repeat of 2019.
Luis Severino is lost for the year, and for a part of next and undergoes Tommy John surgery Thursday morning in New York. That was a blow to starting rotation, already without James Paxton, out with a bad back that keeps him off the mound for a month or two.
Now, the latest, and nothing new with Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder/ designated hitter was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right-calf strain and will probably miss Opening Day.
Depending on the severity, Stanton, who missed a majority of time last year will be out four or more weeks. So, another major player and with a huge contract is among the Yankees walking wounded.
Call it a jinx, but some teams are creatures of habit with injuries. The Mets, only a few years back, struggled to keep a lineup and pitching rotation in tact with one injury after another.
Baseball can be a grind, but without a regular season game in the books, the Yankees are hurting. They changed their medical staff and that has not made a difference.
Though, without Severino and Paxton, and without Domingo German, fulfilling a MLB domestic violence suspension, the Yankees have lost three of their six that are considered quality starters.
Yes, could be a hex. German, though, is expected back at some point in mid-June but will go through that season-in spring training routine before getting a start.
And the Yankees have not seen Stanton, the former NL MVP, at his potential. Injuries have kept him off the field and the home run production had not been evident.
Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge do have that capability of combining for 80 or more home runs, but they have hardly been in the lineup at the same time .
Oh, Aaron Judge? He has yet to take part in a spring game and the Yankees are saying it will be soon. You see, Judge, has not been healthy also which also leads to this recurring issue of Yankees’ more on the injured list than on the field.
So what gives here? The Yankees are not denying they have an issue. But they can’t explain the rash of injuries that are a carry over from last season and from all standards an explanation as to why is difficult to determine.
Players today, more than yesterday, are prone to getting injured. The off-season condition programs are more. They are intense and weight training can take a toll.
But the players will deny that conditioning has nothing to do with an injury. They say, it is that coincidence. Injuries are a part of the game.
However, as in the case with the Yankees, the injuries lead to more questions and makes the job for GM Brian Cashman that more difficult. Though last year, again, Cashman became the baseball wiz in finding the appropriate replacements.
Gio Urshela became a star and the season ending injury to Miguel Andujar became an afterthought. Mike Tachman, Mike Ford, two more that became viable replacements and could still be a part of the Yankees mix when the final roster is constructed.
But the panic button should not be pushed with these latest setbacks, though, Severino, is turning out to be a bad investment in the second year of a four- year deal of $40 million and throwing 12 innings last year.
And if the Yankees score those tons of runs, as expected, they will get through these setbacks. But they need a healthy Stanton and Judge in the lineup.
One insider said to this columnist, “It’s the way the game has changed,” He was referring to the strength and conditioning of ballplayers, again a probable cause of the Yankees and their injury ward.
He said, and in the situation with Severino, the arm is not made to throw 100- mile fastballs and mixed in with the amount of breaking balls.
“Sandy Koufax threw a fastball and a curveball. It doesn’t work,” he said. “Severino complained in September. He didn’t go for the MRI. If they had put that dye in him for testing in September, you would see him on the mound.”
As for filling the void, the Yankees always seem to find a way.
“This time of year, you always look from within and see if you can give opportunities for what you have,” Cashman said.
Regardless, pitching is a commodity, valued, and you never have enough. Sources also said the Yankees are not leaning towards signing veteran free agents.
Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Clay Buchholz are on the market.
So with the highest payroll in the game, and with the same old issue of keeping players healthy, where do the Yankees go to fill the void? Also, outfielder Aaron Hicks, with an extended and lucrative contract is in that injury mix.
Hicks, continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Recovery and filling the void are the theme of this Yankees spring training camp.
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