One injury after another, including a flurry of them in just the past two days, but Joe Girardi said last night that he hasn’t really thought about this being a repeat of last year.
“I can’t say that I have,” Girardi said. “Someone brought it up to me; it seems like this year it’s our pitchers instead of our position players, (but) they seemed to catch up pretty quick in one day. I haven’t, but now that you mention it, it’s similar to where we’re losing pitchers for substantial periods of time, where (last year) we lost a lot of position players for substantial periods. The position players have been more day-to-day, in a sense.”
The biggest blow so far has obviously been the Ivan Nova injury. Then there was Michael Pineda’s back/shoulder. Now there’s CC Sabathia’s knee, Ichiro Suzuki’s back, and whatever’s going on with Carlos Beltran’s hyper-extended elbow. As the injuries pile up, it becomes easy to forget that the Yankees have already placed Dave Robertson and Mark Teixeira on the disabled list at some point this year, and that they’ve already lost the guy who opened the season as their backup catcher.
“That’s what happens to guys that are older,” Mark Teixeira said, in a moment of perhaps uncomfortable honesty. “You get bumps and bruises. That’s the unfortunate part about getting old. But we have a very deep team. We have a bunch of guys that are champing at the bit to get at-bats. We have All-Stars sitting on the bench. So we’ll fill in where we need to fill in, and guys that are bumped and bruised, we’ll give them a day here and there and we’ll get back at it.”
This seems to be a constantly evolving situation, but here’s the basic infirmary report.
Hyper-extended right elbow
Hurt taking swings in the cage last night. He was sent for an MRI and the Yankees did not immediately have — or at least they did not immediately announce — the results. All we have to go on is Girardi saying that Beltran, “seemed pretty upset” after hurting himself. Beltran was the Yankees best hitter early in the year, but he hasn’t been the same more recently. Several days ago, Girardi was asked if he thought there was any lingering impact from Beltran’s tumble over the wall at Tropicana Field. Girardi basically said it was possible, but ultimately dismissed it. Seems like the current situation would be unrelated, but who knows? “I’m concerned because it was enough to take himself out of the game,” Girardi said. “I didn’t have a long conversation with him about how sore he was.”
Strained right forearm
For reasons that I imagine are fairly obvious, there’s been no update on Billings’ status and I can’t imagine anyone has done much digging to find the latest on when he might come off the disabled list. Billings was one of many guys brought up to fill in as the Yankees long reliever. He got into one game and landed on the disabled list. For now, the more interesting question with Billings isn’t about when he can come back, it’s about what the Yankees can do with him in the meantime. I’m not entirely sure what moves the Yankees are allowed to make with a player who’s hurt. I believe an injured player can be DFA to open a 40-man spot, but a release might be an option. This matters largely because it seems the Yankees are going to have to add either a fifth starter or a new long reliever by the end of the week and Chase Whitley — who’s not on the 40-man — seems to be the most likely candidate.
Strained right hamstring
It was exactly a month ago, on April 13, that Cervelli played his last game. He’s been on the disabled list with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, and the fact the Yankees put him on the 60-day disabled list is a pretty clear indication that he’s still nowhere close to a return. Even if he were 100 percent healthy at this point, Cervelli couldn’t be activated for roughly another month. I believe I was talking to Michael Pineda when Cervelli spoke to the media yesterday, so we’ll trust Bryan Hoch on this one: Cervelli said he has been running on a treadmill and is scheduled to run outdoors on Tuesday. He said he could resume hitting this weekend. It’s obviously going to be a bit longer before Cervelli’s eligible to rejoin the Yankees, but given the way John Ryan Murphy has played in his place — .407/.429/.556 — it’s worth wondering whether Cervelli’s job will be waiting for him.
Tight lower back
While the Yankees were in Anaheim last week, Kelley began feeling some tightness in his back. He was unavailable for a few days, then told the Yankees he could pitch again on Sunday. He began warming up in the bullpen and apparently had some trouble getting the back loose enough to really pitch. He was never called into Sunday’s game, expected to be available on Monday and told the Yankees that he yet again couldn’t quite get there. “He came in after BP and he’s still not right,” Girardi said. “I thought that we would have him (yesterday). He just does not have the flexibility to finish his pitches, so I didn’t have him.” Kelley hasn’t pitched since May 6, so he’s already almost halfway through a potential 15-day disabled list stint. The Yankees have not indicated that they’re planning to make that particular move, but it’s already taking longer than expected. “He’s got to get to where he can do what he needs to do to pitch,” Girardi said.
Tommy John surgery
Out for the season
Strained teres major
Here’s how Pineda described first feeling the injury during a minor league start during his pine tar suspension: “On the first pitch, I felt a tightness,” he said. “It was like, ‘Oh, it’s tight.’ It’s not normal because I’ve never felt it. I threw another pitch and I feel more. It’s not OK. It’s a little tight. I’m stretching a little bit. After another pitch I say, ‘Oh no. I don’t feel good. There’s something wrong.’ I finished the inning, and when I walked into the dugout I said, I don’t feel normal. I feel something, and I’ve never felt it before.’” The teres major muscle is in the back very close the shoulder. Pineda said the discomfort itself is not in the shoulder, but kind of closer to his arm pit. He played catch this weekend and should play catch again today. A rehab schedule is not known yet. “I don’t feel nothing here (in the shoulder),” Pineda said. “I’m doing a lot of (shoulder) exercises and everything is normal, everything is good. I feel it here (under the arm pit).”
Fluid in right knee
As planned, Dr. Chris Ahmad examined Sabathia yesterday, but Girardi said postgame that there was no new information and no new tests. Sabathia is going to see Dr. James Andrews, but that seems to be for his own peace of mind, at least that’s the way Brian Cashman explained it on the Michael Kay Show yesterday. “His knee needs to be drained,” Cashman said. “Fluid’s obviously building up there for some reason, and we’ll be a in a better situation to answer fully what we think might be going on and why the fluid is being produced there when Chris Ahmad gets a chance to rule on it.” The Sunday MRI in Milwaukee showed no meniscus tear — Sabathia had a meniscus issue in that knee after the 2010 season — and right now the Yankees are operating under the assumption that it’s strictly fluid. But: “We’re still in the evaluation stage,” Cashman said.
On Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee, Ichiro tried to make a sliding catch on a ball hit into shallow right field. He thought he could make the catch and double off a runner at first base, but when Ichiro slid, his knee stuck in the ground and he tumbled. It was sudden and a little bit violent, and when Ichiro tried to get ready to play yesterday, he couldn’t do it. “For Ich not to hit on the field, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that,” Girardi said. “… He felt like he couldn’t swing or do anything, so we had to give him the day off completely.” Ichiro said he’ll see how he’s feeling today, but right now it sounds like he doesn’t think this is a DL situation. It’s a back issue, though, and Girardi loves to say that “backs are tricky.”
Fatigue and groin tightness
This is a weird one. Since returning from that early season hamstring injury — which gave him some time off — Teixeira’s never played more than seven days in a row. When he did, it was immediately after playing just one out of three days. He played for a week straight, had Thursday off, played three days in Milwaukee and said his legs were fatigued. Then he acknowledged some tightness in his groin. For now, Teixeira has said being out of last night’s starting lineup was strictly precautionary and he’ll definitely be there tonight, but his workload doesn’t seem especially overwhelming, and it seems a bit odd that he’s felt this fatigued. He also kind of dismissed the groin tightness, but it’s significant enough that Girardi brought it up. DL seems unlikely, but it’s clearly a keep-an-eye-on-it situation. “If (Girardi) still feels like the storm clouds are starting to surround Tex in some way that could take him out for an extended period of time, we’ll give him a little time,” Cashman said. “Right now I’ll classify this as precautionary or reactionary. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Associated Press photo