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  • Ed Botti

Notes from Tampa

by Ed Botti

March 15, 2024

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Normally when I write my Notes from Tampa column. I like to get into the battles taking place on the field for a spot on the opening day roster. It is always interesting and exciting to see these battles unfold. Last year we had the battle for shortstop won easily by Anthony Volpe.


It seems like just last week that Derek Jeter was given the job, and that was way back in March of 1996 after Tony Fernandez broke his arm.


This season was a little different. There really weren’t many open spots, position player wise, for this veteran based team. I guess we can put the catching rotation into this category, but it appears pretty obvious that Jose Trevino and Austin Wells are set to handle that position.


As noted on these very pages just a few short weeks ago when I stated “I always start spring training with 1 question; can they endure a 6 week training camp without suffering any serious injuries”?


Well, it didn’t take too long for the injury bug to rear its ugly head and for me to get my answer.


No. They cannot.


Injuries are a part of Baseball, and any sport for that matter. You have to deal with them as they come, and they will. As my Father would always say “mark my words”.


As usual, he was right.


Just this past week we learned that the 2 most important players on the 2024 Yankees both came up lame; Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge.


So where do they stand as of today?


Aaron Judge: The Captain underwent an MRI on March 11 after reporting discomfort in his abdominal area for a week or so. Aaron is telling us the discomfort is located in the middle of his abs, making sure to point out that it was not his oblique and that he feels it on the follow-through of his swing. He also stated that he thinks that it is due to the work he put in over the offseason.

 

For those wondering why he made it a point to state it is not an oblique injury or strain; an oblique strain is when one of the abdominal muscles (internal or external oblique muscles) become tattered, torn or detached. Many times from the lower four ribs. It is painful to breath, cough, sneeze and laugh (not to mention play a professional sport). Recovery periods can range from weeks to months.


According to Aaron “I think just from swinging from November all the way until now, every single day, it put some wear and tear on it. Especially coming back after a toe injury when your mechanics are a little messed up and you’re just working on some things”.


Aaron Boone had described Judge as being “mid-spring beat up.”


That, is a new term for me, and begs the question; how can a professional athlete feel beat up after 3 weeks of spring training?


My first thoughts were how such a valuable player and finely tuned physical specimen can undertake an off season training routine that puts his regular season in jeopardy?


I am not privy to the dynamics of the communications between a player, the team and its strength and conditioning people. But, I find it preposterous that he injured himself during unsupervised off-season training.


Aaron has appeared in six games this spring, amassing two hits in 14 at-bats (.143), with a double, one RBI, two walks and three runs scored.


Aaron said that he'd like to have about 30 at-bats before Opening Day, and that he would resume swinging a bat "maybe later this week."


Aaron Boone said that he has Judge “penciled in” to play center field on Saturday, March 16. Judge would then rest for a day and play again on March 18.


The good news is that the MRI came back clean. So, Aaron should have nothing holding him back, right?

 


Photo by BACKGRID


Gerrit Cole: I wish I had a better news but I don’t. Cole went for his visit to the Carl Pavano MRI machine on March 11, and more testing on March 12 due to right elbow discomfort.


Any time a major league pitcher has discomfort in his throwing elbow, it is serious.


Cole underwent an MRI exam on March 11 after communicating to the team that he has had difficulty bouncing back between starts. Gerrit equated his discomfort to his level of fatigue he usually would feel after throwing 100 pitches during the regular season.


The Team is saying it could be several days before they announce a prognosis for Cole since they are seeking multiple opinions from doctors and team medical staff.


According to sources, the Yankee ace has been scheduled to visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles, and that no tear has been detected in his valuable ulnar collateral ligament.


However, he is expected to miss at least one to two months, according to the New York Post.


Several Yankee physicians and ElAttrache have analyzed Cole’s preliminary results, and while none of them have identified a tear there’s enough concern about the ligament that ElAttrache has suggested an in-person visit.


That is not a good sign.


The initial analyses earlier in the week were optimistic, with the belief the concern could be resolved with rest and other conventional treatments, but ElAttrache has stepped in and recommended more testing, raising the level of concern.


Masahiro Tanaka was able to pitch successfully with a weakened elbow ligament, but many that watched him pitch in Japan have stated he was never the same.


In a year when they have mortgaged a good deal of their pitching future in the deal for Juan Soto, who may just be a 1 year rental, along with other off-season moves, there are substantial question marks behind Cole in the rotation.


Marcus Stroman only threw 24 innings in the second half of last season due to hip and rib-cage issues.


Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are both coming off injury riddled and/or underperforming seasons.


Clark Schmidt was a nice story last season, but he did pitch to a 4.64 ERA.


The 6 through 11 starters (you will need at least 11 these days) include Luke Weaver, Cody Poteet, Cody Morris, Clayton Beeter, Will Warren and Luis Gil.


Not exactly leaving us dripping with enthusiasm, is it? But, one of them or more will be given a chance to step up.


The shoulder bug was not done, as we are waiting for 2 time Yankee Tommy Kahnle to pitch after he suffered a shoulder issue that ended his season early last September.


Kahnle said he had wanted to begin his offseason throwing program sometime around last Thanksgiving. Unfortunately he was unable to do so until December 12, because of lingering discomfort.


The word is he has been pain-free since March 6. He has stated that he does not expect to pitch in games until the first week of the regular season, which tells me he will not break camp with the team.


To a much lesser degree of concern, projected backup infielder Oswald Peraza also dropped by the Carl Pavano MRI machine back on March 7. He also underwent a dye-contrast arthrogram on March 8.


A strain in his shoulder was diagnosed.


Boone stated that Peraza will be restricted from all baseball specific activities for six to eight weeks. You may recall that Peraza’s shoulder problems began on February 25, although he did return to the lineup on March 5 when he played second base against the Mets and then he played shortstop the next day against the Rays. He has been shut down since.


In 70 MLB games, he has hit .216.


I may be in the minority here at SSTN, but I don’t see him being more than a reserve bench player.


Other players of note that are injured, but not being relied on heavily for 2024 are Jasson Dominguez who did tear his UCL last season and underwent Tommy John surgery on September, 20. The latest on the Martian is that he is now throwing up to 75 feet and is expected to begin taking swings from both sides of the plate on March 11. He did begin hitting right-handed on February 26.


Bullpen mates Lou Trivino (Tommy John Surgery)  and Scott Effross (Tommy John surgery and back surgery) just may be the equivalent of decent trade deadline additions. We’ll have to wait and see.


I wish I had more positive news to report on this week, but it would just be sugar coating.


Cole and Judge are critical to any success this team planned on in 2024. Extended absences by either of them would be catastrophic to their 2024 mission.


I will leave you with this, last season the Texas Rangers lost ace Jacob deGrom in early June. They traded for a worn out Max Scherzer in July who didn’t do much at all, and they won the World Series.


So, it aint over until it’s over!

15 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Mar 16

At least Gerrit Cole didn't have to travel far once he left LAX Airport. Dr. Neal ElAttrache's office is very close to the airport, and is located at the Howard Hughes Center, part shopping mall, part residential complex, part office complex, maybe 5 minutes north of LAX Airport. So fortunately, Gerrit Cole was in and out of LA quickly, and away from the harassing paparazzi.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Mar 16

The worst part of Cole's trip here to Los Angeles was the way he was harassed by the paparazzi when he arrived at LAX Airport and was trying to walk from the terminal to a vehicle that was waiting for him in the parking garage. That guy was relentless. The headline in this article is misleading. Cole's reaction to the harassment was not "in hilarious fashion". Nothing "hilarious" about it at all. Rather, Cole handled it with class and dignity and grace by simply completely ignoring the pest. CLICK HERE & SEE VIDEO OF PAPARAZZI CONFRONTATION WITH COLE: https://fanrumor.com/watch-paparazzi-harasses-gerrit-cole-who-responds-in-hilarious-fashion-how-concerned-are-you-about-his-injury/?e_md5=d2b174e0600971d0604cbddf091e279c&e_sha1=9dfa76063237fb558d56464783fc1ddb033d78ee&e_sha256=6dffdb9720913dfa05a3892e816d8cc09c645a1973f5fe1d76680585effb3687

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Mar 15

Focusing on Schmidt's 2023 totals is misleading. He had a disastrous April, 6 GS, 25 IP, 6.84 ERA, .994 OPS. In other words, the average batter he faced in April was 64 OPS points better than Juan Soto was last year.


From May to the end of the season, however, Schmidt was 4.23 ERA (MLB average 4.37), .731 OPS (exactly MLB average). Not Gerrit Cole by any stretch, but as a MLB-average pitcher, certainly a competent back of the rotation starter.

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etbkarate
Mar 15
Replying to

Because boros is a greedy (fill in the blank)!

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sbarbeau
Mar 15

So, it looks like Cole, realistically, is going to miss 15 starts- If he was going to win 10 of those starts, someone(s) else is going to have to win 10 games- Likely?

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Mar 15
Replying to

You are correct sbarbeau - The Yankees have to find a way to win at least 10 of those games. That isn't going to be easy with a pitcher who was slated to be in the minor leagues.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Mar 15

They signed back Trivino while he was still rehabbing, and Effross they knew about since December, so these 2 injuries really aren't a big deal for them, the FO, this Spring. Just not telling the public about Effross is.


Something happened during the first half of 2022, that moved Peraza from top prospect to the next Florial. So, the better question is: Why did they refuse to trade him for either Castillo or Lopez at the '22 deadline?


Judge. A previous Captain, #23, Mattingly has said looking back on it, all the extra batting practice he thought he needed, only in retrospect, does he now think that shortened his career by 2-3 years. Unfortunately, Cap, as O'Neill call him, …


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