Yankees’ Injury Scares Are Coming Alive…Again
By Derek McAdam
March 10, 2023
The Yankees’ 2023 Spring Training so far is giving fans some hints of deja vu. It is the first Spring Training since 2018 that the Yankees have a top MLB prospect that is nearing his big league debut, as Anthony Volpe is seeking to follow in Gleyber Torres’ footsteps and join the club as soon as possible. There was much hype around Torres, but Volpe may take the crown, as he is a talented player who also happens to be from New Jersey.
On the other hand, the Yankees have already announced that several pitchers will begin the season on the IL, including top free agent signing Carlos Rodon. While it has been known for a little while that Tommy Kahnle was questionable to be ready for Opening Day, he and Lou Trivino will also join Rodon on the IL to begin the season. This is also not to mention that Frankie Montas will also be out for several months recovering from shoulder surgery.
Four pitchers have already landed spots on the IL, while catcher Ben Rortvedt is going to be out for some time after his shoulder injury. It reminds me of the 2019 season, where the Yankees had injury after injury. It seemed as if no one could stay healthy, but the “Next Man Up” season became one of the best Yankee seasons in recent memory. That team had a chip on its shoulder, and did not let the injuries take them down.
In the couple of seasons surrounding 2019, the same problem was also present. The Yankees just could not seem to shake off the injuries, and several players came to light because of the injuries. But in the end, the players that were being paid the most money seemed to have the toughest time staying on the field.
With less than three weeks to go until Opening Day, the injuries are already giving fans, including myself, something to worry about. Rodon will be out with a forearm strain, Trivino with an elbow sprain, and Kahnle with bicep tendonitis. Whenever muscle injuries arise, I start to question many aspects. Remember, these are not freak accidents that occur, such as getting drilled by a come-backer or colliding with a base runner at first base.
I also wonder how most of the injuries are to the pitching staff (knock on wood the positional players don’t start to get hurt). That seems strange, considering that the injuries are all muscular. Are the pitchers not warming up properly, or does that have nothing to do with it and it’s all just pure coincidence? Maybe we’ll soon find out that answer.
Brian Cashman says that while Rodon’s injury was “something, but not significant or serious,” he will return in April in a “perfect world.” Cashman’s comments are no doubt confusing. If the injury is not serious, why is he making it seem as if it is a long shot for Rodon to return next month? It may just be my misunderstanding, but it does not seem as if Cashman is confident that Rodon will be able to return in April. Rodon will not throw for seven to 10 days and will then be reevaluated, so let’s see what happens.
Plus, Yankee fans know how the injury announcements work: If a player is deemed to be out for two weeks, it turns into three or four. However, I understand it….sometimes. Teams are going to be more cautious than ever regarding these players, as millions of dollars are invested into them. It’s also early in the season, and there’s no reason to rush any of these players back when we haven’t even made it to Opening Day yet.
But, I feel as if teams take on the mindset of making sure that the player is “100% healthy,” although no player is 100% healthy once the season begins. Fatigue won’t take long to set in, but it’s something that all players will experience at some point in the season, even baseball fans like myself (I’m sure most fans probably do).
So where do the Yankees go from here? It seems likely that Clarke Schmidt will make a few starts for the Yankees after seemingly losing out to Domingo German as the rotation replacement for Montas. A potential rotation will most likely now consist of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr., Luis Severino, German and Schmidt, not particularly in that order.
However, Schmidt has to have some improved starts if he wants to make the rotation. He got rocked by the Tigers in 1.2 innings on March 3, allowing four runs during the span. He also allowed two runs in three innings yesterday against the Red Sox, although the start was an improvement from the Detroit game. It may just be a slow start for Schmidt, but he will have to pick up the pace in order to secure the rotation spot.
All of this may be one big overreaction, and I definitely hope that I am. However, Yankee fans that have followed the team over the past few seasons understand that injuries have cursed this team. The last thing teams want is to come into the regular season with a decimated roster due to injuries.
We can also look at it this way. Injuries like Rodon’s at the beginning of the season are better than him going down in late September, as he is expected to be a crucial part of the rotation once the post-season rolls around. Let’s hope that these are the last of the big injuries that we see and the Yankees can be as healthy as possible come March 28.