TAMPA — At the beginning of Yankees camp, Robinson Chirinos was an intriguing asset that had an outside shot of making New York's Opening Day roster.
After all, he's a veteran behind the plate with plenty of experience working with ace Gerrit Cole from their time together with the Astros.
A few weeks later, however, Chirinos is destined for a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to an injury.
In the eighth inning on Wednesday night, Chirinos was hit on the right wrist as he attempted to dodge a pitch from Pirates right-hander Blake Cederlind. He was immediately taken out of the game after being evaluated by a trainer, undergoing an assortment of tests the following day. Those images revealed a fracture in his right wrist.
"Feeling for Robinson right now," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Thursday. "Now the [imaging] information is getting in front of some specialists to determine what the next step is and what the timeline is. Is it surgery? Is it not? Those things will become more clear over the next couple days."
Odds are Chirinos would have been on the outside looking in once Boone made his final roster cuts later this month, with starter Gary Sánchez and his backup Kyle Higashioka set to head north with the big-league club. Nonetheless, this will test New York's depth at a position with a surplus of young talent.
As we saw last year with Erik Kratz, the Yankees didn't shy away from holding three catchers on the active roster. Granted, that was in the midst of Sánchez's season-long slump and the backstop has been mashing so far this spring.
Three of the Bombers' top 20 prospects, per MLB Pipeline, are catchers and non-roster invitees at spring camp. That's Austin Wells (New York's first-round pick from last year's draft), Anthony Seigler (another former first-rounder) and Josh Breaux (a second-rounder from 2018).
None of those three are expected to make their big-league debuts in the near future, though. That means if something were to happen to Sánchez or Higashioka once the regular season begins, either the Yankees would be forced to go out and add another backstop or seek a different veteran option internally.
31-year-old and six-year veteran Rob Brantly is the most experienced option from the remaining pool of non-roster invitees. Brantly homered in New York's first exhibition game of the spring back on Feb. 28.
Either way, the absence of Chirinos will be a blow for this team. If everyone else stays healthy, he won't necessarily be missed from an on-field perspective, but he's already had an impact on all the catchers in this organization this spring in other ways.
"It's been awesome having Robinson in here," Boone said. "He's been a great teammate, he's really influenced the catching room, he's been a lot of fun for me to be around, just a really good guy. Especially hurting for him today knowing how much he's put in to try and be a part of this team."
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