Posted on September 13, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Gary Sanchez
Image via nypost.com

For the New York Yankees, the injuries that have defined their season just won’t stop. Two more players have been bitten by the injury bug, putting their status for the postseason into question. Catcher Gary Sanchez and DH Edwin Encarnacion both suffered injuries during the course of Thursday’s double-header sweep of the Tigers. The club remains optimistic about both, but only time will tell if either returns in time for the playoffs.

Sanchez appears to be the bigger concern at the moment. New York’s catcher strained his groin Thursday while trying to steal second base. Sanchez suffered a similar injury earlier this season that caused him to miss a little over two weeks. Yankees manager Aaron Boone indicated Friday that the strain is similar in severity to the one Sanchez had earlier this year, giving the club hope that the timeline will be similar.

“I don’t want to start saying 10 days, two weeks, three weeks, all these things, because we’re now in the early stages,” said Boone. “I would say, based on the information given to me, I have some optimism.”

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The Yankees will begin their postseason three weeks from Friday. That could allow Sanchez to return in time if he follows the same timeline as his previous groin strain. However, it would be tough for him to get any game action before the regular season ends five days earlier. Sanchez has hit .233 with a career-high 34 home runs this season, helping him produce an OPS of .849. If he’s unavailable, there would be a significant drop-off between him and backup Austin Romine.

“Hopeful we’ll get him back by the end of the season,” said Boon. “Obviously, these next few days, how he responds and everything, we’ll be able to determine the factor.”

The situation is a little different with Encarnacion. He left during the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader after hitting a home run. He was diagnosed with an oblique strain that’s considered mild. Boone said that he’s “optimistic” that Encarnacion will return “at some point.” But he offered no specific timeline.

Encarnacion has also been an integral part of New York’s offense since coming over in a trade in the middle of June. Since joining the Yankees, he’s hitting .249 with an OPS of .856. The good news is that the Yankees have some other options at the DH spot if Encarnacion can’t return, including Luke Voit, Mike Ford, and Clint Frazier. But they would surely prefer to have Encarnacion, who has played in the postseason in four straight years.

On the bright side, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is working his way back from injury late in the season. Stanton has just 31 at-bats in the majors this season due to a myriad of injuries. Boone says that Stanton is moving in the right direction, and barring a setback, he should return before the end of the regular season.

It’s no doubt frustrating for the Yankees to continue to have players sidelined by injuries. The fact that they’re happening in mid-September and putting players like Sanchez and Encarnacion in jeopardy of missing the postseason makes it all the more distressing. However, the Yankees have spent all year overcoming injuries, and having a few more pop up in September isn’t going to change their approach or expectations when the playoffs begin.

“The goal and the intentions and what we expect never changes,” says Boone. “It hasn’t changed all year and it hasn’t changed now. But anytime we lose some of our dudes, I get frustrated.”

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