Posted on March 3, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
The injury situation surrounding the New York Yankees was so bad in 2019 that it’s spilling over into 2020. With Luis Severino undergoing Tommy John surgery and James Paxton out with a back problem, the rotation has been hit hard by the injury bug. The New York outfield is also battling injury problems with both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton unlikely to be healthy enough to be on the opening day roster.
Judge battled shoulder problems early in the spring that gave way to a pectoral issue after he started to make progress. He’s undergone a battery of tests that have all come up negative. However, he’s not been healthy enough to play in any exhibition games this spring and has no timetable for baseball activities. With the season starting earlier than usual, it doesn’t look likely that Judge will be available for opening day, even if the team remains hopeful.
“I don’t see him ready by Opening Day because of the time frame,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “It’s 3 1/2 weeks, and just then the healing and then having to have a Spring Training.”
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As for Stanton, he’s recovering from a minor calf strain he suffered a week ago. He’s appeared in just one game this spring, going hitless in both at-bats before the injury. Cashman has estimated a four-to-six week recovery time for Stanton, which makes him questionable at best to play opening day on March 26. Injuries limited Stanton to just 18 games last season, so the Yankees aren’t likely to rush him back.
“My gut would be that he wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day; doesn’t mean I’m right,” says Cashman. “I would say it’s better to assume he won’t be ready. Will he be, in theory, ready in April? At some point, the answer should be yes. But Opening Day in late March, I’d say more likely than not.”
If both Judge and Stanton are unavailable at the start of the season and Aaron Hicks still recovering from Tommy John surgery, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Clint Frazier could make up New York’s outfield to start the season. There isn’t much depth in the outfield outside of those three outside of infielders Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade.
Andujar, in particular, is an interesting option. He essentially lost his job at third base to Gio Urshela while sitting out most of 2019 due to injury. The injuries to Stanton and Judge could create an opening in left field for Andujar, who has spent time there during spring training. But whether he can handle the position regularly and can be trusted defensively remains to be seen.
“I will pick the best from the available players that are here competing, and hopefully we stay healthy in other categories, too,” Cashman said of the potential depth issues in the outfield. “We certainly have a number of different people that are more than capable. Hopefully, we’ve got all those choices in play by the time we’re putting lineups together.”
Obviously, the Yankees are no strangers to injuries. Cashman also commented on Tuesday that he’d rather have injuries now when games don’t count rather than later in the year. But having two of their most important offensive players sidelined for the early part of the season is surely a troubling sign for the Bronx Bombers. If both Stanton and Judge can get healthy and return sometime in April, the Yankees should be fine. However, there has to be some concern for them with the injuries to key players already racking up.