The New York Yankees looked like the team to beat in the American League East this year. The club added depth to a bullpen that was already one of the league’s best. And with a powerful core of young players entering their prime, the Yankees looked poised to topple the Boston Red Sox and make a deep postseason run.
Add to that, the Yankees are starting off the season with what appears to be one of the league’s most favorable schedules including opening the season at home against the Baltimore Orioles who are expected to be one of the worst teams in all of Major League Baseball this year – and perhaps historically.
But baseball is a funny game. Only the Yankees aren’t laughing. After the first three games of the season (which saw the team lose two out of three to the Orioles) the team announced that third baseman Miguel Andujar may be lost for the season with a slight tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder. Although the club has initially only announced that they will “handle him conservatively” for the next couple of weeks, there is concern the injury will require season-ending surgery.
Also, Giancarlo Stanton went on the 10-day injured list with a left biceps strain. Although Stanton is indicating that he expects a speedy recovery, manager Aaron Boone stated that he was hoping to have Stanton back by the end of the month.
Going into the season, the Yankees knew they would be without shortstop Didi Gregorious who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Since them they’ve added pitchers Dellin Betances, C.C. Sabathia and Luis Severino to the list of players who are rehabbing injuries. And that list doesn’t include starting outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks who are still in Florida at the team’s Player Development Complex.
“We’re talking about rally good players that we’re missing,” said manager Aaron Boone. “They’re a big part of our club. We feel like we’re equipped to handle this, especially in some of these cases that were believe are going to be on a short-term basis. I feel like we have a team capable of weathering that storm.”
They have called up Clint Frazier to take Stanton’s spot on the roster. Frazier has been a contributor over the past few seasons. The schedule through April includes mostly teams that are not expected to contend. However, there are two notable exceptions: a three-game trip to Houston April 8-10 and a quick two-game series at home versus the Red Sox April 16-17.
In the big picture, the Yankees should be able to weather this rash of injuries just fine. However, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it can “get late early” so the Yankees become a team to watch in the season’s opening weeks.