Posted on June 3, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is eligible to come off the 7-day concussion at any time. But more than a week after crashing into the center-field wall to make a spectacular catch, he remains sidelined with concussion symptoms. The Yankees were hoping that Ellsbury would be able to participate in batting practice on Friday. Instead, he’s been shut down for the time being, as he continues to experience headaches. Ellsbury is set to visit a neurologist on Monday when the Yankees return home from a road trip.
“I was just telling him, ‘You’ve got to be right,'” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday. “I know it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s tough when you have a concussion. You’ve just got to be careful and do the right thing. I know he’s frustrated. He wants to come back. I told him, ‘You can’t come back if you’re not healthy.'”
Ellsbury appeared to be making progress toward a return. He has spent time recently running in the outfield and hitting in the batting cage. However, that activity may have caused his symptoms to return, forcing the Yankees to shut him down.
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“It’s tough when you have a concussion, you just have to be careful and do the right thing,” Girardi said. “It’s probably the trickiest injury for us to deal with. I know he’s frustrated, he wants to come back.”
Prior to the injury, Ellsbury was having arguably his best season since coming to New York in 2014. He’s currently batting .281 with an OPS of .771. However, his season has been put on hold with the concussion. The fact that he doesn’t know when he’ll be healthy enough to return is only adding to the frustration of being on the DL.
“We definitely miss Jake,” Girardi said. “As I told him (on Friday), I said, ‘We’ve just got to get you healthy.’ These things, you can’t predict. It’s not a broken bone — when you say it’ll heal in six weeks or it’s a Grade 1 strain where you say a guy is going to be back in two (weeks). We don’t know. Sometimes it’ll feel good, and then the increased activity will hurt you. So far, that’s what has been his problem.”
With Ellsbury out, Aaron Hicks has taken over as New York’s regular center fielder. Now in a more prominent role, Hicks has continued his stellar season. He’s hitting .323 with an OPS of 1.023. However, to this point, the Yankees have declined to call up either Clint Frazier of Dustin Fowler, their best outfield prospects who are both putting up good numbers at triple-A. That has resulted in a lack of outfield depth for the Yankees.
Before Ellsbury went to the DL, there was a four-man rotation in the Yankees outfield that also included Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge. Girardi admits that having the four outfielders helped to keep each of them fresh and may account for each having a productive season. However, at this time, he doesn’t feel like the Yankees need to call up either Frazier or Fowler to help replace Ellsbury.
Of course, with Ellsbury experiencing what amounts to a setback, there’s no telling when he may be back on the field for the Yankees. The trio of Gardner, Hicks, and Judge have all surpassed preseason expectations, which is why the Yankees have survived Ellsbury’s absence with little drop-off. However, long term, the Yankees need Ellsbury in the mix, and the longer he stays out, the more concerned they become.