Posted on August 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
With a playoff spot looking less and less like a sure thing, the New York Yankees have once again been bitten by the injury bug. Shortstop Didi Gregorius was placed on the 10-day DL Tuesday with a bruised heel. Gregorius suffered the injury after colliding with Toronto first baseman Kendrys Morales on Sunday. He briefly stayed in the game but left after playing just one inning in the field after the injury. At the moment, the Yankees don’t appear to have a firm timeline on his return.
“There is nothing broken or anything like that, but he’s got a pretty significant bruise,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the injury on Sunday.
Prior to the injury, Gregorius was having arguably the best season of his career. Despite a dreadful May, Gregorius has the best OPS of his career. He kicked things into gear following the all-star break and has been great in the second half. If not for the injury, there’s little doubt Gregorius would have set a new career-high for home runs, topping the 25 long balls he hit last year.
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Needless to say, losing Gregorius means losing another important piece of the puzzle. The Yankees are already waiting for Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to return from injury. They must now play the same kind of waiting game with Gregorius. Since nothing is broken, there’s a chance Gregorius could return within a couple of weeks. However, depending on the severity of the bruise, it could be longer. Gregorius may also need to play through some pain upon his return.
In the meantime, Gleyber Torres is expected to take over as the everyday shortstop. Torres is a natural shortstop who has been forced to move to second base because of the presence of Gregorius. He should have no problem filling in while Gregorius is out.
However, at second base, the Yankees will likely use a combination of Neil Walker and Ronald Torreyes. Walker has been helping out in right field in Judge’s absence recently. If he were to play more second base, it could force Giancarlo Stanton out of the DH spot and into right field. Torreyes would be a better defensive option but doesn’t provide as much pop offensively as Walker could. Of course, Walker has struggled offensively for much of the season.
Exactly how the Yankees sort things out remains to be seen. What matters is they have another key player on the DL with September around the corner. New York is currently nine games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Catching Boston seems like a fantasy at this point. The Yankees do have a 3.5-game lead for the top wild-card spot. However, there are three teams in the AL West within striking distance of that spot.
Losing Gregorius for at least a couple weeks will only hurt their chances of locking down a spot in the postseason. Once again, one of the most powerful lineups in baseball has become a little bit thinner. Nevertheless, the Yankees have to find a way to survive the loss of another key player.
“I think we’ve responded well, and we have to,” Stanton said of the team’s recent injuries. “These are good tests, to get us out there playing when we’re not at our full potential. Other guys will step up in place.”