On May 4, the Yankees placed Damaso Marte on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 26, after seven pretty poor performances. The injury was termed tendinitis and weakness in his left shoulder. That’s never good news, especially for a guy who came back from the WBC nursing an injury. The outlook grew a bit bleaker when Marte took a trip to Dr. Andrews’s office in Alabama, but the good doctor didn’t find anything wrong. That was in mid-June. We’re now in mid-August, and we still haven’t heard anything about Marte returning any time soon.
Marte’s rehab assignment began on July 16 when he pitched an inning for the GCL Yankees. He then moved up to AAA Scranton, where he’s made 10 appearances so far. In his last 5.1 innings he’s allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out four, allowing no runs. It would seem from the results that he’s near a return. But, again, we haven’t heard anything to that effect from anyone. Just how long will Marte stay on this rehab assignment?
MLB rules allow for rehabbing players to play in the minors for 30 days. Since Marte first appeared on July 16, his clock started then. Today marks Day 27, so unless the Yankees pull him off the assignment for some reason, he’ll have to rejoin the team by Monday, in Oakland. It’s strange that he’s so close, yet the Yankees have been tight-lipped about his return.
If they were so inclined they could pull the same move they did with Humberto Sanchez last year. When his rehab clock was almost up they shut him down with another injury. When he finally got back into games, his clock re-started. Marte, of course, is a different situation. He’s a major league vet, and unlike Sanchez last year, the Yankees would be bringing him right back on the 25-man roster, whereas Sanchez would have been optioned to the minors. The move doesn’t seem likely, but it can’t be ruled out.
Assuming Marte does come back on Monday, as per his rehab clock, what move would the Yankees make to free up a roster spot? Would they dare option David Robertson while he’s pitching so well? Phil Coke? Would they go with 13 pitchers until rosters expand on September 1 and option Ramiro Pena? Those seem like the only three possible moves, and for one reason or another neither seems particularly palatable.
We’ll soon find out the Yankees plan. Until then all we can do is wonder. It sure would be nice to finally see some productivity out of the reliever to whom the Yanks committed three years and $12 million. If he can produce at anywhere near his previous levels, he’ll be a tremendous asset to the Yankees down the stretch.