Posted on August 4, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s happening again. In an all too familiar occurrence this season, the New York Yankees are being hit by the injury bug. On Saturday, the club was forced to place slugger Edwin Encarnacion on the 10-day Injured List because of a hairline fracture to his wrist. Outfielder Aaron Hicks joined him on the IL later in the day due to an elbow problem.
Encarnacion was hit in the wrist during the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep over the Red Sox. An MRI revealed a hairline fracture of the right wrist. He was placed on the IL in between games of the doubleheader with Mike Ford being called up as a replacement. Encarnacion will be re-evaluated in a week, although the expectation is that he’ll miss at least three weeks of action.
“I hope no more than three weeks,” said Encarnacion. “We’ll see, I don’t know. But I hope that. Maybe three, maybe four, maybe five [weeks] depending on how the rehabilitation goes.”
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Since the Yankees traded for him in mid-June, Encarnacion has hit .238 with an OPS of .824. He has served primarily as a DH but has been asked to play a little more at first base with Luke Voit on the IL. With both Encarnacion and Voit unavailable, DJ LeMahieu should expect to be New York’s primary first baseman. Ford is also an option, although he’s just 6 for 30 in the majors this season. The Yankees are also without an obvious option at the DH spot with both Voit and Encarnacion sidelined.
Meanwhile, Hicks hurt himself making a throw from center field on Saturday. An MRI revealed a flexor strain that prompted his second trip to the IL this season. Fortunately for Hicks, Tommy John surgery has been ruled out after being an initial possibility. He will be shut down for seven to 10 days and then begin to throw. However, it’s possible that Hicks ends up missing a significant chunk of time.
With Hicks forced to the IL, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Cameron Maybin will likely share duties in center field and left field. The Yankees could also call up Clint Frazier from triple-A to reinforce their outfield. But even with plenty of in-house options, losing Hicks would be a big blow to the Yankees, even though he’s having a down season offensively, hitting just .235 with an OPS of .769.
Of course, the Yankees have been no stranger to injury. The likes of Voit, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and others are already missing. With Encarnacion and possibly Hicks joining them, the Yankees have over a dozen players on the IL. While they have the depth to survive these injuries, it’s far from ideal.
“Look, any time your guys go down, it’s frustrating,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “It’s tough. You feel for them. We’ve dealt with this all season long. The next-man-up [approach] has served us really well. We’ll pick those guys up and hopefully in both cases, they’re back sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it’s another opportunity for someone else to impact our club.”
At the moment, the Yankees have a comfortable 8-game lead atop the AL East over the Rays. But the more injuries New York suffers, the more vulnerable they become to a late-season run from Tampa. More importantly, injuries will continue to make it more difficult for the Yankees to peak at the right time and be at their best when the playoffs roll around.