With every prediction from the media about how a team’s 2018 season will shake out, comes the caveat “barring injuries.” So wouldn’t you know it, the Yankees are suddenly digging deeper and deeper to recover from players who are already down and out.
Oft-injured Greg Bird goes down and is lost to the Yankees for at least 6-8 weeks. No problem, the team has Tyler Austin to replace him directly from their 25-man roster. Oft-injured Aaron Hicks, the Yankees starting centerfielder, goes down forcing the Yankees to dig into their Triple-A roster calling on Billy Mckinney to play left field, and forcing another move requiring Brett Gardner to play centerfield.
Billy McKinney then goes smashing into the left-field wall yesterday, and according to Brandon Kuty of NJ Advanced Media has “a left AC joint sprain and X-rays didn’t show damage, according to an announcement in the press box.”
This is what it looked like yesterday.
All of which could bring about a case of irony in which oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury comes off the DL list later this week to replace the increasingly oft-injured Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees are still waiting for doctors to certify Clint Frazier as fully recovered from a concussion he suffered early in the preseason. Even if Frazier were available today, though, he would not be much of a help as he will need time to get ready after being limited to only two at-bats this spring.
This isn’t the plan drawn up by Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman to begin the season. The depth of the Yankees roster we all heralded only a week ago? It’s gone, just like that. The still incomplete roster at Triple-A Scranton lists only Mark Payton, Shane Robinson, and Junior Soto as outfielders, and none of them are currently on the Yankees 40-man roster, causing Cashman to jump through hoops if he wanted to call one of them up.
Injuries happen, and no team escapes them. We can rationalize what’s happened to the Yankees and look to the pennant-contending Cleveland Indians (1-2). On the same day last week, they put four players on the DL, including CF Michael Brantley (ankle surgery again), P Ryan Merritt (knee sprain), and front-line pitcher Danny Salazar (rotator cuff tendinitis).
Rationalizing further, we can say it’s better the injuries hit now when the season is young instead of in September in the throes of what is expected to be a down to the wire race for the playoffs. No matter, it is what it is, which is the first of many tests the Yankees will face this season.
In an unexpected move, the Yankees called up Miguel Andujar from Triple-A to replace McKinney on the 25-man roster. Andujar was sent down in favor Brandon Drury. The rookie will see limited playing time at first and third base.
But again, this move by Cashman reeks of the Yankees already skipping over Plan B and moving to Plan C, despite the team’s well-intentioned desire to have Andujar play every day in the minors instead of once a week with the Yankees.
And just in case you’re wondering, Chris Carter, is not available and is currently the property of the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim (how stupid is that by the way – “of Anaheim”?). Carter was signed to a minor league contract but is not on the Angels 40-man roster.
Cashman is not likely to hit the panic button so soon in the season. Ellsbury and Frazier were designated as role players to begin with. As soon as either or both are healthy, the Yankees have a spot in their lineup that is open.
Who would have thought the first week of the season would bring this much intrigue as we observe the Yankee’s decision-making process as they cope with the first hiccup of the 2018 season?