Most of CC Sabathia’s teammates were with him on Wednesday. They were laughing and smiling, healthy enough to spray Champagne and celebrate a division championship. But this was a season full of significant injuries to key players, and Sabathia was asked if there was one in particular that had him most worried at the time it happened.
“I think Alex,” Sabathia said. “Just how much he means being around the team and being on the bench and talking to the guys and just being around it. Obviously his numbers and what he does on the field, but just what he brings off the field and his knowledge in the clubhouse.”
Asked the same question on yesterday’s Michael Kay Show, Brian Cashman had a different answer.
“I was worried about how the team would deal with Mariano from a mental standpoint,” he said.
What about you? Which long-term injury, at the moment it happened, had you most concerned that the season might be in trouble and any hopes of a championship in doubt?
Before the season even started, the Yankees top offseason acquisition was lost for the year. They’d already had Dave Robertson hurt himself carrying boxes down a step, and had Joba Chamberlain hurt himself on a trampoline with his son. Bad omens all around, and Pineda’s shoulder surgery was absolute proof that this season wasn’t going to go as planned.
Probably didn’t have anyone too worried when it first happened in mid-April. Even Gardner himself seemed to think he’d miss only a few days, but three attempts to rehab the injury ended in setback after setback after setback and eventually he had surgery. The Yankees never truly replaced Gardner until they traded for Ichiro Suzuki in late July, and that lack of a true speed threat seemed to hurt them several times through the season when the home runs weren’t coming and the team was struggling to manufacture runs.
My guess is that this is the one that left the greatest doubt among the Yankees fanbase. Rivera went down during batting practice, a freak injury if there ever was one, and the news that he was lost for the season left a chill of uncertainty in the month of May. Rafael Soriano has filled those shoes almost perfectly, but there’s only one Rivera.
Just when things were finally going as planned — better than planned, even — Pettitte’s good-as-ever comeback was halted by a line drive off the ankle. The bone was broken and Pettitte missed nearly three months. He had stabilized the rotation, and suddenly he was gone. Just for good measure, he was gone on the same day the Yankees put CC Sabathia on the disabled list for the first of two stints.
The Yankees had been swept in Oakland and they weren’t exactly playing well in Seattle when Rodriguez was hit in the hand by a Felix Hernandez changeup near the end of July. The hand was broken and Rodriguez missed the entire month of August. Perhaps the most frustrating part: Rodriguez was one of the few Yankees actually driving the ball at the time of the injury.
When Teixeira hurt his calf, the Yankees were already playing without Rodriguez and the middle of the order was looking pretty suspect against lefties. Teixeira tried to hurry back, but missing 10 games wasn’t enough and he suffered a setback that cost him an additional 20 games. Teixeira’s declining average has been a source of frustration, but his absence was proof that the Yankees lineup looks a little thin without him.
Associated Press photos