Injuries have been a common theme for the Yankees this season and in a year where there has been quite a bit of unrest among the fans they have gotten a pass on this. However, maybe the Yankees shouldn’t be. While a lot of the injuries are a result of bad luck there has also been a fair amount of mismanagement that has made the situation much worse.
It started back in Spring Training with Derek Jeter. Jeter was coming off offseason ankle surgery which had an initial diagnosis of a May return. Jeter is extremely competitive though and was determined to get back by Opening Day and the Yankees seemed fine with that. So he pushed himself too hard and he ended up having a critical setback to the point where even an All-Star break return is not guaranteed.
More recently there has been Mark Teixeira. Teixeira suffered a torn ligament sheath in his wrist during Spring Training. It’s a serious injury that occasionally requires surgery to repair. It’s tricky though and other players around baseball, Jose Bautista and Mark DeRosa, both gave quotes to the press essentially warning Teixeira to be careful and not rush back too soon.
Like Jeter, Teixiera is extremely competitive and rushed his injury. After missing about two full months, Teixeira returned to the Bronx with just three days of rehab. It turns out that he was never completely healthy and Kevin Long admitted that he wasn’t even hitting off a tee from the left side recently. But the Yankees were so desperate to have him back that it didn’t matter.
Now we still don’t know how much time Teixeira is going to miss. He’s not on the DL yet, but that seems like denial more than anything. If he hasn’t been healthy in the three weeks since returning he’s not going to get healthy suddenly after a couple of days off. A DL stint seems inevitable and it seems possible that it could even be for a month or more.
Besides Teixeira and Jeter there are other instances. Such as Kevin Youkilis. Youk was so important to the team in April that when his back started acting up they tried to get him to play through it. He did and ended up on the DL as a result. He came back, was clearly still not healthy or effective, and is now on the DL again. For how long is anyone’s guess.
There are also lesser cases that I worry about. Like CC Sabathia. He’s getting up there in years and is coming off offseason elbow surgery. During the offseason the Yankees admitted that they probably needed to get him so more rest this year and they planned on cutting back his workload as a result.
Well, that hasn’t happened. In fact, even on days when it’s clear that he doesn’t have his best stuff Girardi sticks it out with him as long as possible. Instances when he gives up four runs or more and pitched seven innings are not uncommon. Considering that the Yankees rotation has been fine and Adam Warren has been a seldom used long-man in the ‘pen it seems downright pointless to overwork CC.
Let’s also not forget Travis Hafner. He is a guy who has not been able to stay consistently healthy for years. But because the Yankees were so desperate for offense they have ignored that fact and have used him on an almost daily basis. And just like clockwork, Hafner’s shoulder has been bothering him.
Could they have avoided this with regular rest? Maybe, maybe not, but Hafner has certainly not been getting the Eric Chavez treatment where he was regularly rested no matter how well he was hitting. Before the shoulder injury he played basically every day. He sat against some lefties at first, but that lasted about two weeks into the season when the Yankees abandoned that plan. So it should be no surprise that he’s been ineffective.
Some injuries, like the two broken bones for Curtis Granderson, are freak things that couldn’t have been avoided. But setbacks to Jeter and Teixeira were completely avoidable and the fact that Hafner and Youk’s chronic injuries are being problems is not completely unavoidable.
The Yankees have had a lot of injury problems this year, but I can’t help but feel like a lot of them could have been managed a lot better. This team was going to be a borderline playoff team to start with and it could end up that they are on the outside looking in because of the way they’ve dealt with them.
• The Yankees have signed first round draft pick Ian Clarkin (33rd overall) to a slot deal of $1,650,100 pending a physical. Their other unsigned pick, 32nd overall Aaron Judge, has a slot offer from the Yankees that he is still mulling over.
• MRI’s came back showing only inflammation, not a tear, in Mark Teixeira’s wrist. They will re-evaluate him this week before deciding if they will put him on the DL, but like I said above, a DL stint seems hard to avoid at this point.
• The Yankees also signed eighth round pick Brandon Thomas to a $75K deal which is about half of his slot value.
• LHP Cesar Cabral is done with rehab, has cleared waivers and been assigned to Double-A Trenton. None of the Rule 5 Draft rules apply to him now. He’s just a regular old minor leaguer.
• Jose Ramirez was promoted to Triple-A. It was initially thought to be for just one start, but it is permanent. Ramirez had a 2.76 ERA, a 10.6 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 in 42.1 innings at Double-A this year.
• Ronnier Mustelier has been placed on the minor league DL with midsection tightness. Incredible bad luck as he was a candidate to get called up sometime soon. Musty is hitting .280/.319/.408 in 39 games so far this season.
• The Yankees are back in the Bronx this week. Be sure to buy your Yankees tickets.
Photo credit: (June 11, 2013 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America).