On the last day before the All-Star break, Joe Girardi was asked what the Yankees could do better in the second half.
“That’s a hard question to ask because, do I think we could do everything better? Yeah, I think our players are capable of doing that,” Girardi said. “But if there’s anything, I’d like to see us stay healthy in the second half. How’s that? I gave you an answer. That’s fair.”
Not exactly the answer anyone was looking for, but it was relevant. The Yankees have been hit by some surprising and significant injuries this season. Here’s a quick update from Brian Cashman on some of the more notable injuries.
Rivera’s rehab doctor has gone on record saying he believes Rivera could pitch again this season, but Cashman is sticking with the assesment of Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. David Altchek.
“He’s done for 2012,” Cashman said. “I don’t care who’s saying what. I can only tell you what I’ve been told by my doctor.”
Tommy John surgery
Cashman said he was out of the office yesterday, and he hasn’t checked with the Yankees medical staff, with means he knows no more about Aardsma’s status than you or I.
“Apparently he Tweeted that he got clearance,” Cashman said.
Aardsma was making significant progress in his Tommy John rehab when he was suddenly shut down two weeks ago following three appearances in the Gulf Coast League. He went through additional tests, which were being reviewed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed his surgery. Aardsma tweeted Tuesday that the “tests and everything have been good.”
Strained and bruised elbow
Gardner is hitting again, which might seem like a positive sign, but Cashman has seen it before.
“He’ll ace this part,” Cashman said. “That’s not the issue.”
Cashman said he doesn’t have a definite date when Gardner will begin a rehab assignment, but he doesn’t expect to truly learn anything until then. Gardner has twice made it through all of the batting practice and defensive drills with flying colors only to suffer a setback when he’s gotten into games. Right now, all signs are positive, and doctors are telling the Yankees that Gardner will be fine, but Cashman wants to see Gardner in a game before he gets too excited.
“He’ll get perfect grades for everything up to rehab games,” Cashman said.
Tommy John surgery; dislocated ankle
“He would have been back for at least a month if he wouldn’t have had the problem that he hurt his ankle with,” Cashman said.
The ankle injury was a significant setback, but Chamberlain started a rehab assignment on Tuesday, and the longest a pitching rehab assignment can last is 30 days. Cashman wouldn’t give a definite date on Chamberlain’s return, only said he will “probably not” need the full 30 days. He will, however, have to do all the usual spring training reliever stuff – including pitching back-to-back days — before being activated.
A July 27 comebacker fractured Pettitte’s left fibula at the ankle. It was a fairly stunning injury, and although Pettitte is expected back near the beginning of September, he’s still not close to playing catch.
“He’s just sitting at home with a bone stimulator,” Cashman said.
Rotator cuff surgery
Given the way Clay Rapada and Boone Logan are pitching, the Yankees don’t necessarily need Feliciano right now, but he’s throwing bullpens and remains on the map as a possible September call-up.
“Outside chance he can join us in September,” Cashman said. “That’s always been the case, but mentally you just assume, no.”
Triple-A thumb injury
After he was optioned to Triple-A, Nunez played just four games — only three of them in the field — before he was placed on the disabled list. It’s been almost two months, but Nunez is finally close to playing again.
Cashman said Nunez is up to two rounds of batting practice a day, plus full defensive drills. The best estimate is that he’s six to nine days away from being cleared to play.
Recurring back injury
Romine’s back was a problem last season, and it started bothering him again in spring training. The Yankees have tried to be cautious with it, and Romine hasn’t played a single game this season because of the injury. He is, however, catching bullpens and taking full batting practice on the field. He’s been cleared for every drill, he’s just not cleared to play in games just yet.
“He’s going through all his stuff,” Cashman said. “(But) I can’t tell you how far away he is.”
Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos
Similar elbow injuries have shutdown two of the Yankees top pitching prospects. Banuelos hasn’t pitched since mid-May and Campos hasn’t pitched since late April, but tests have determined that it’s not a ligament issue and neither is a candidate for Tommy John surgery.
“Taking a little longer than we’d hoped,” Cashman said.
The good news is that Banuelos started his throwing program about a week ago, and Campos just recieved clearance to begin his.
“They will pitch this year for us,” Cashman said.
Associated Press photos