An Early Crush of Injuries Tests the Yankees’ Spring Optimism

Miguel Andujar, the Yankees third baseman, listened to the gently phrased questions on his injured proper shoulder and the risk of having season-ending surgical procedure. He acknowledged the chilly truths about torn labra: They can’t heal on their very own, and most gamers that suffer related ruptures find yourself on the working desk.

Yes, Andujar mentioned, he will get that. But as he spoke earlier than the Yankees’ Three-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, Andujar dismissed the worst-case state of affairs, vowing to beat the odds, keep away from surgical procedure and return to motion inside weeks.

If he does so, it might be a uncommon occasion of luck for the Yankees, who now have eight gamers on the 10-day Injured List, together with their ace (Luis Severino), circus sturdy man and residential run chief (Giancarlo Stanton), and their front-line shortstop (Didi Gregorius). Andujar joined them after a headfirst dive into third base towards the Orioles on Sunday.

After initially feeling a “weird” sensation in his shoulder, Andujar mentioned, he remained in the sport, and he nonetheless felt sturdy afterward and even into Monday. But a magnetic resonance imaging examination revealed a small labral tear, prompting the Yankees to close Andujar down for not less than two weeks. After that, he’ll start a cautious program of bodily remedy, which he and the workforce hope will preclude the want for surgical procedure.

“I’m optimistic,” Andujar mentioned. “My shoulder is strong. There’s a still a chance I can get through this and get back on the field.”

Aaron Boone was simply as inclined to show his gaze away from the risk of an Andujar-less summer time. Hard in charge him: The 24-year-old infielder completed second in the American League’s rookie of the yr voting in 2018, main all first-year gamers in hits (170) and breaking the Yankees’ file for doubles in a rookie season — beforehand set by Joe DiMaggio in 1936.

Although inconsistent on protection — he dedicated 15 errors final yr — Andujar’s efficiency partly defined the Yankees’ determination to cross on pursuing Manny Machado in free company this winter. After shedding to the Red Sox in a division collection, the Yankees had been decidedly upbeat about Andujar and their roster usually getting into 2019.

That optimism was primarily based on three components: that Aaron Judge, who missed seven weeks with a damaged wrist final summer time, could be wholesome in 2019; that Stanton could be higher acclimated to enjoying in the high-pressure New York market in his second yr; and that catcher Gary Sanchez had nowhere to go however up after batting a disastrous .186 final season.

Bundled with the continued maturation of Andujar and his fellow rookie Gleyber Torres, the Yankees felt they might shut the hole on Boston with out spending a lot on new additions. Judge spoke for his teammates just lately when he mentioned, “From the first day in camp, I felt this was going to be a better team than last year.”

But 5 video games in, it has been a harsh actuality for the Yankees, who’ve but to achieve traction on the season regardless of beginning off towards two evenly regarded opponents, the Orioles and Tigers. An unusually extreme run of accidents has solely compounded their frustration.

Severino, who acquired a analysis of shoulder irritation final month, nonetheless has not thrown off a mound, and he isn’t more likely to return till May at the earliest. Center fielder Aaron Hicks is battling a cussed decrease again downside; he has already acquired two cortisone photographs. Dellin Betances, the flame-throwing reliever, is sidelined with a shoulder impingement, though he threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and could possibly be again in every week.

Stanton’s harm was the most mysterious: a grade-1 pressure of his left biceps he sustained with what Boone known as a “funky” swing on Sunday. Like Andujar, Stanton can be out of the lineup for not less than 10 days, though his harm is much less critical. Nevertheless, the Yankees have been compelled to rely upon reinforcements sooner than anticipated, placing their depth — and emotional resilience — to the take a look at.

The always-upbeat Boone mentioned he felt the Yankees would emerge as a greater workforce after April’s challenges.

“One of the strengths of our organization is the depth,” he mentioned, including that every of the Yankees’ replacements had been “capable of producing at the big league level.”

Boone’s rallying cry may need resonated a bit extra had the Yankees not misplaced their opening collection to the Orioles. Most damning was their situational hitting: The Yankees went 10 for 56 with runners on base in the three-game collection, together with 6 for 29 (.207) with males in scoring place, together with eight strikeouts.

There wasn’t a lot enchancment on Tuesday, when the Yankees managed simply six hits towards the Tigers and didn’t have a runner in scoring place over the closing 4 innings.

Starter Masahiro Tanaka threw successfully for 6⅔ innings, however his work was undone by nearer Aroldis Chapman, who continues to lose velocity.

As Chapman allowed the deciding two runs in the ninth inning, his once-feared 100-miles-per-hour fastball ticked down as little as 95.

“I feel great,” he mentioned regardless of permitting 4 of the seven batters he confronted to achieve base, dooming the Yankees to a different loss.

First baseman Luke Voit requested for endurance from unsettled followers, saying: “It’s super early. There are still 157 games to go.”

But a unique crew should proper the ship.

Without Andujar and Stanton, call-ups like Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade will get their probability. D.J. LeMahieu, the infielder acquired by the Yankees in January, began in place of Andujar on Tuesday.

But will or not it’s the identical Yankees? Boone insisted that his “expectations have not changed,” though nobody might blame him for crossing his fingers — tightly.

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