The Yankees disabled list has the 15th-highest payroll in baseball, so it’s little surprise that the past month-plus has been defined by the team’s ability to sustain and withstand injuries. The Yankees have 10 players on the disabled list, but two of those are Michael Pineda and Cesar Cabral, each of whom missed all of last season as well. The bulk of the early injury impact has come from these eight injuries, forcing the Yankees to plug a series of holes to varying degrees of success.
Status: Playing in extended spring training
Replacement: Vernon Wells
There is at least a chance the Yankees would have traded for Wells even without the Granderson injury — would have been an upgrade over the outfield right-handed platoon options — but the Granderson injury is clearly the reason Wells has been playing everyday. And of all the Yankees replacements, Wells has been the clear standout. He’s been good enough that the Yankees have to strongly consider keeping him in the everyday lineup even after Granderson returns.
Torn tendon sheath
Status: Just started batting practice
Replacement: Lyle Overbay
Signed at the very end of spring training, Overbay might not have been on the radar had Dan Johnson produced in big league camp. With Johnson having a horrible spring, though, the Yankees went looking for an experienced first baseman. Overbay has given the Yankees a steady glove at first, and he’s been terrific against right-handed pitching. Further injuries, though, have pushed him into an everyday role and he’s been awful against left-handers. Overall, for what he was signed to do, Overbay has been effective with a little more home run power than expected.
Replacement: Eduardo Nunez/Ben Francisco
Nunez has taken Jeter’s playing time at shortstop, but it’s important to remember that Jeter was also supposed to get regular DH at-bats against left-handers. Essentially, he’s been replaced by Nunez against righties and replaced by Francisco against lefties. The results have been disappointing on offense, but encouraging on defense. Nunez has been a steady and occasionally terrific defensive player, but neither Nunez nor Francisco has been productive at the plate. It remains to be seen whether Nunez’s rib cage injury forces yet another replacement.
Status: Beginning baseball activity
Replacement: Kevin Youkilis
For a while there, it seemed that the Yankees had a solid Rodriguez replacement in Youkilis who was hot and then cold until…
Status: Epidural last week
Replacement: Jayson Nix/Lyle Overbay/Chris Nelson
Corban Joseph replaced Youkilis on the roster, but he never replaced Youkilis in the lineup. Instead, it’s been Nix (against right-handers) and Overbay (against lefties) getting those at-bats. The offensive results aren’t pretty. Nix has been good in the field — and he’s had some bright spots with the bat — but his overall offensive numbers are pretty bad, and they’re especially bad against right-handers. As for Overbay, he’s now playing first base against left-handers — which Youkilis was supposed to do — and has just three hits against lefties all season. It remains to be seen how much the Yankees use newly acquired Nelson to fill the Youkilis hole.
Status: Just had surgery
Replacement: Chris Stewart
At some point, Austin Romine might get a chance to take a substantial number of Cervelli’s at-bats, but at this point the catching job belongs to Stewart. Just when Cervelli was clearly emerging as the everyday guy, it’s now Stewart who’s started all but one game since the Cervelli injury. Girardi has made it clear that — for the time being — he intends to use Stewart as the regular behind the plate. Romine could earn additional playing time if he plays well, but Cervelli’s job has been handed to Stewart, and Stewart’s job has gone to Romine. It’s obviously worth noting that Stewart has been solid offensively.
Status: Sent to Tampa
Replacement: David Phelps
Phelps broke camp in the Yankees rotation, but he didn’t make a single start before the team decided to rush Phil Hughes back from the disabled list to force Phelps back into a long relief role. Now that Nova is shut down, Phelps is back in the rotation. His first start of the year was promising at first — three scoreless innings — but it turned into a bit of a mess with a four-run fourth inning when Phelps uncharacteristically hit two batters, including one with the bases loaded. He’ll get another start this week in Denver, and Nova had been bad enough in April that it’s worth wondering if Phelps might still be a better option even after Nova’s healthy.
Status: Added to DL on Thursday
Replacement: Preston Claiborne
Hard to say who’s going to replace Chamberlain in the seventh inning. Claiborne was called up to take his place on the roster, but filling Chamberlain’s role is probably going to require some combination of Claiborne, Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan and maybe Adam Warren. Really, the Chamberlain injury has shined a light on the vulnerability of a bullpen that’s been a pretty solid strength this season. The early expectation is that Chamberlain won’t miss a ton of time, but if he does, this is an opportunity for someone like Claiborne to emerge. Middle relievers are generally an unreliable bunch, so if someone gets hot for a while, it could make a difference and fill the void. If not, it could be messy.
Associated Press photos