The Yankees are in trouble. That’s what SI.com’s Jon Tayler wrote on April 4, just a week into the 2019 season.
Now, eight days later, the Yankees have been swept by the Astros and are returning home without their starting catcher. Gary Sanchez was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday with a left calf strain, bringing their total casualty count up to 12.
Of the nine players in their opening day lineup, four of them are on the injured list: Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton (bicep strain), Miguel Andújar (torn labrum in right shoulder) and Troy Tulowitzki (left calf strain). And that doesn’t even include starting centerfielder Aaron Hicks (left lower back strain) and shortstop Didi Gregorius (recovering from Tommy John surgery).
The Sanchez injury came just as he was starting to get hot. The 26-year-old catcher ripped three home runs in the Yankees’ 15-3 win over the Orioles, and is slashing .268/.333/.732 overall with six homers and 11 RBIs. Sanchez’s strong start seemed important not just for the injury-plagued Yankees but also for him personally. Once considered the best pure hitter of the Baby Bombers, Sanchez was frequently injured, put up disappointing offensive numbers (.186/.291/.406 with 18 homers) and played dreadful defense behind the plate.
The bright spot for Sanchez and the Yankees, though, was that both he and Yankees manager Aaron Boone are “optimistic” that Sanchez won’t be sidelined for long. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reported on Twitter that Sanchez will have “three more days of no activity, then resume workouts.”
"When you do have a little bit of a strain in there, it gets pretty easy to injure those things and then it becomes a four-, six-, eight-week type thing. Or best case, it lingers and it's an issue," Boone told reporters before the Yankees’ Friday night game against the White Sox, according to Hoch. "I think the best case right now is to take him out of it. Hopefully, it's something that is a pretty short stint."
The Yankees also announced Friday that right-handed reliever Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) had a setback during a simulated game on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. Originally expected to return to the bullpen later this month, Betances instead returned to New York for an MRI. During the rain delay in Friday night's 9-6 loss to the White Sox, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that Betances will have a cortisone shot on Saturday and will be shut down for three weeks. It is expected to be at least six or seven weeks until he pitches in a major-league game, per The Athletic's Lindsey Adler.
But not all Yankee news was bad on Friday. Andújar is hoping to avoid surgery to repair his torn labrum, which would sideline him for the remainder of the season. After taking 50 swings on Friday, 25 off a tee and 25 “dry,” the third baseman said he felt no discomfort, according to Hoch. Stanton hit off the tee, hit soft toss and is progressing well, Boone told reporters.
And the Yankees’ injured list is going to get shorter on Saturday when CC Sabathia makes his first start of the season after having offseason heart and knee surgery.
Of course, no part of the situation is ideal. On top of all this, ace starting pitcher Luis Severino (Grade 2 lat strain) suffered a setback earlier this week that will keep him out till mid- to late-June at the absolute earliest. But as long as the Yankees can stay afloat with the Red Sox and Rays in the AL East, they should be getting about a dozen reinforcements over the next several months.