Posted on May 4, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees James Paxton
Image via NJ.com

For the New York Yankees, it’s one step forward and one step back in the injury department. On Saturday, the Yankees were able to activate third baseman Miguel Andujar from the Injured List after more than a month on the shelf. However, he was activated at the cost of James Paxton, who was placed on the 10-day IL. In essence, the Yankees got a big part of their lineup back but have lost a big part of their rotation.

Paxton left Friday’s start after just three innings due to knee discomfort. The Yankees are describing the injury as knee inflammation. The lefty underwent an MRI on Saturday and doesn’t believe it will be a long term issue.

“It was just something that was nagging at me enough that I couldn’t execute pitches,” Paxton explained. “I’m not real worried it’s going to be something long term. I’m hoping it’s something that’s just a quick fix.”

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Even if it’s not a serious injury, Paxton is yet another Yankee on the IL. Also, without an off day in the near future, the Yankees will have to find a replacement for Paxton at least the next two times through the rotation. Jonathan Loaisiga would appear to be the most likely option, having made two starts for the Yankees already this season. Of course, Paxton went to the DL with a 3.11 ERA over seven starts, so he’s been on top of his game early in the season.

The good news, as mentioned, is that Andujar was activated on Saturday and inserted right into the cleanup spot of the batting order. The young third baseman went on the IL three games into the season with a shoulder injury that was potentially season-ending. However, Andujar has healed nicely and says he isn’t thinking about the injury and isn’t worried about working his way back into form after spending all of April on the shelf.

“Every day, I feel better,” Andujar said through a translator. “I have to keep on working on my shoulder, keep getting the strength back. If things keep improving the way they have been improving day by day, I feel really good about that.”

That being said, the Yankees will take it a little easy with Andujar at first. Gio Urshela has received most of the playing time at third base over the past month and excelled offensively. He began Saturday hitting .338 with an OPS of .898. His emergence should make it easy for the Yankees to use Andujar at DH to ease him back and help fill the void the club has with so many other key players on the IL.

“With our roster the way it’s set up right now, Gio will play a lot of third so we can DH Miggy a fair amount as well,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We’ll just kind of mix and match based on the day, but I feel comfortable that he’s ready to go from a defensive standpoint.”

While not ideal, losing Paxton to a short-term injury in exchange for Andujar’s return is a good deal for the Yankees. The club should feel good about how their rotation has performed and the depth they have to manage without him for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Andujar should provide a big boost to a lineup that is still missing some pieces.

“Miggy is a really good player,” says Boone. “With so many guys out right now, to get a guy that swings the bat the way Miguel does back in the fold, I think it’ll add some length to the lineup.”

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