Nagging injuries could leave Yankees short-handed against Rockies

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Thanks to the magic of interleague play, the Yankees will play their next three games under National League rules. They open a three-game set with the Rockies in Coors Field later tonight, which means pitchers hitting and bunts and double switches and all sorts of other stuff we never see in the so-called Junior Circuit. It gets passed off as “strategy,” but whatever. Most of the moves are no-brainers that require no real thought.

Anyway, because the Yankees will be in an NL park, they’re going to use their non-starting players more than usual these next three games. Someone like Brennan Boesch will go from rarely-used backup outfielder to important lefty pinch-hitter. Vidal Nuno, the last man in the bullpen, could become a matchup lefty or middle innings guy depending on how the ballpark treats the team’s pitchers. Unfortunately, some nagging injuries might leave the Yankees in a bit of a roster bind.

For starters, Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day with what the team called left ribcage irritation. I think that means an oblique problem, and we all know how tricky those can me. Joe Girardi has already acknowledged his starting shortstop is unlikely to be healthy enough in time for the series opener tonight, so the Yankees will be a position player short. That means they don’t have a backup for Jayson Nix and Chris Nelson, will be are short a pinch-hitter, don’t have an obvious pinch-runner … losing a position player in an NL park hurts.

Secondly, David Robertson is still a question mark for tonight due to his left hamstring trouble. He played catch in New York over the weekend and will give it another try this afternoon, and if that goes well he’ll throw a little in the bullpen. If the bullpen goes well, he’ll be available in the game. If not, Girardi will again be short his best non-Mariano Rivera reliever and only have six pitchers in the bullpen. That might not be such a big deal tonight coming off the off-day, but it will be a problem if Robertson still isn’t available come Wednesday or Thursday.

On top of that, Travis Hafner is close to a dead roster spot. He can’t play the field at all, so for these next three games he’ll be a strategic left-handed pinch-hitter and nothing more. That’s an awesome bat to have on the bench for big situations, but it leaves the Yankees short another position player. With Nunez banged up and Hafner unplayable in the field, the Yankees could be heading to Colorado with a three-man bench of Boesch, Ben Francisco, and Austin Romine. It’s a short-term thing, but it still stinks.

Hopefully Nunez’s ribcage and Robertson’s hamstring will feel better tonight and the Yankees can move forward will a full roster. They’re missing a ton of players as it is, but at least players on the DL can be replaced. These guys who are day-to-day with nagging injuries can’t be replaced, so the team has to play shorthanded until they’re ready to go. That’s not a big deal in AL parks thanks to the DH, but in the NL, where pinch-hitters and the like are imperative, it’s a big disadvantage. The Yankees have a bit of a roster mess heading into this series against the Rockies.

Categories : Bench


  1. Eddard says:

    The starting pitching will have to carry the team. We lose Hafner’s bat, Nuney’s glove and we’re faced with the possibility of having the triumvirate of Jayson Nix, Chris Nelson and Ben Francisco all in the lineup at the same time. The only debate with those 3 is whether or not a pitcher is a better PH option. At least Mo could work a walk.

    • The Real Me says:

      We lose … , Nuney’s glove

      Not sure that’s the worst thing. Nix’s glove is fine. His bat so far has been no worse than Nunez’s. We do, however, lose Nunez’s speed on the bases.

      • CS Yankee says:

        In all fairness, Nuney has a decent glove its what he does when he takes the ball out of it that is scary.

        • The Real Me says:

          I can agree with that. The point is, his defense will not be missed as much as his base running skills. His bat, if he continues his current offensive ways, won’t be missed either.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I see Nuney gave Eddard some love last night and is back in his good graces.

  2. The Real Me says:

    The weather here in CO will be a tocuh on the cool side (they’re saying high 60′s but it will feel colder as the sun won’t be breaking through the clouds regularly) and there’s a chance of rain each day, moreso Wednesday and Thursday. This could nake it a bit tougher on the guys with nagging muscle issues.

    CO weather is a bit unpredicatable. It can be raining in one spot and be clear (literally) a mile away, at least in Southern CO, by Colorado Springs. I think Denver weather is a bit more consistent. And the showers are expected to be fairly wide spread. I’m just hoping that it rains and the showers pass.

  3. Swing Batter Swing says:

    All the more reason to can inter-league play entirely.

  4. LarryM Fl says:

    Eduardo does not fit the Derek Jeter mold of durability. He has been hit in the bicep, hand and now rib cage soreness. We all know Jeter and his ability to withstand the pain. But again we realize even on Eduardo best of days he fails by comparison to Derek. I would hope that he give it a try and maybe he can work through the soreness.

    I maybe being harsh but all these injuries are all DL type. Is there no gritty nature that some injuries can be played through? Pray for snowfall and a better roster later in the season. I’m kidding. There are many issues with an overworked older team without days off.

    • Eddard says:

      Nuney’s already come back from being HBP twice. He’s no Derek Rose, at least Nuney’s putting up a fight.

    • CS Yankee says:

      Agree, rub some dirt on it and lets go.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Perhaps but, at the risk of defending Eduardo Nunez, oblique pain sucks and can really cripple a whole lot of what a baseball player has to go out there and do.

      • trr says:

        The issue is not Mr. Nunez’ toughness, but rather the lack of organizational depth at SS, which was left unaddressed during the off season. Cashman & Co have done a great job on balance, but this is one of thier misses….

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          But no one looks good four deep at shortstop. When you look at your fourth-string SS, you’re usually looking at a guy who looks like Gil Velazquez.

          I write that man’s name way too much on here.

          • The Real Me says:

            +1. To all of this.

          • YanksFan says:

            You can take that a step further – How many teams are good 2 deep at the position?

            For all the complaining about Nunez, he’s a starter on a number of teams around the league.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              A lot of teams would thank their lucky stars Jayson Nix is their third option as well.

        • MannyGeee says:

          In fairness, this DL plague is longer than almost ANY team’s org depth could handle. No one stacks 4 MLB passable shortstops in their org.

          With Jeter on the shelf and Nunie nagging, plus Youk and Tex out, the fact that you have a Chris Nelson and Jayson Nix available to play is about the best any team can hope for.

  5. gageagainstthemachine says:

    meh…just put Hafner behind the plate at catcher…what’s the worst that could happen? I mean…really?!

  6. Robinson Tilapia says:

    The Yankees have been short-handed for the entire season thus far. I’d like to see the roster adjusted a bit to give the left side of the infield some support rather than be five-deep in outfield options, and am surprised that hasn’t happened, but this feels like just another day at the office in some ways. Again, lesser parts are going to have to step up.

    Did y’all think this was going to be easy?

    • trr says:

      No Sir, we did not!

    • The Real Me says:

      Waiting for the May 15th call up of David Adams. Gives them depth at 3B, 2B, possibly 1B and a RH bat. With Musty not yet hitting all the well, I hope they make that move. Another week or so until they can let Ban Fransisco go.

    • hornblower says:

      They really need another infielder. Francisco is dead weight for this series. Anyone who can field a grounder is welcome. I know they have roster problems but there must be a way to make a move.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Not anyone who can field a grounder. Chris Nelson can field a grounder. Gil Velazquez can field a grounder. What’s needed is someone who can provide depth across the infield and can actually handle a bat. That could be Musty. That could be Adams. Of course, neither has an MLB at-bat, so it’s still just is being hopeful on them.

        • trr says:

          still….I’d like to see them get the opportunity, wouldn’t you?

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Doesn’t really matter to me. My only connection to Adams is that I think it’d be cool for another guy, other than Mesa, who I saw play in SI make the big team. I have little emotional connection to my countryman.

            They’re the most logical choices, and I don’t think they’ll embarass themselves. That’s why I want them to play. If someone else were a better choice, I’d want them to play instead.

      • trr says:

        Francisco is dead weight. period.

  7. Arnav says:

    HIROK’s stats against CO are pretty bad.

  8. MannyGeee says:

    This series will just be one of those “perfect storm” type scenarios. Too many injuries, NL rules, a couple of guys coming up lame at inopportune times… it just is what it is.

  9. Garyward says:

    “Most of the moves are no-brainers that require no real thought.”

    Come on dude. I’m a AL guy too but your statement is way off.

    • LK says:

      The only NL move that requires any real thought is the double switch (walking the 8 hitter, having the pitcher bunt, and pinch hitting for relievers don’t count), and it’s not like double switches are rocket science. The difference in the amount of “strategy” between the two leagues is hugely overblown.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        “The difference in the amount of “strategy” between the two leagues is hugely overblown.”

        It really is. Anyone here could make the so-called “difficult” moves an NL manager makes. Anyone here would be a better manager than, say, Dusty Baker.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I bet there’s a couple of guys here who couldn’t.

          • LK says:

            There’s also all the aspects of managing unrelated to in-game strategy, which I doubt any of us could do all that well.

          • WhittakerWalt says:

            You’re right.
            It just seems like double-switching is one of those things, like the infield fly rule. The kind of thing that un-clever people like to say no one knows how to explain, when the reality is that almost all of us know exactly what they entail.

  10. nsalem says:

    Not getting swept is the best case scenario for each of the next two series. If we can get back to NY with a 3-5 record on the road trip I will be happy. Asking for more, considering the circumstances may be asking for too much.

    • trr says:

      I think…..we can go 4-4.
      But yes, this trip has trouble written all over it

      • nsalem says:

        I would sign up for three right now and hope to make it up on the homestand vs M’s and J’s. next week. I think we are 1-5 at Coors with good teams and haven’t been playing great in KC either in recent years. Hope I’m very wrong.

    • Eddard says:

      The formula for 4-4 is to take 1/3 in Colorado, 2/3 in KC and 1/2 in the Cleveland DH. With our pitching 4-4 is definitely possible. CC and Andy will get it straightened out. Phil is pitching is heart out right now. It’s going to be tough to win the series in Colorado against a good team, with a short roster and playing NL style baseball.

    • LK says:

      I’d be OK with 3-5 considering all the injuries, but to say that not getting swept is the best case scenario is way overboard.

  11. upstate yanks says:

    Im scared to see what tonight’s lineup will look like. Nix or Nelson possibly batting 2nd…yuck.

  12. Tim says:

    I mean is Hafner really so bad that he cant play the field AT ALL?? I mean he is still a Major Leaguer. Did he forget how to catch or something? It shouldn’t be such a automatic NO answer to him playing 1B in a pinch especially with the state of our bench right now. Also, why haven’t they considered sending Boesch down and getting a extra infielder? It’s not like he’s been hitting the cover off the ball and we need him as a PH. We don’t need both Ben and Boesch on the bench at the same time whether its with a short or full bench.

    • WhittakerWalt says:

      I think they have him on “Edgar Martinez Lockdown” mode, where he will NEVER play the field for any reason.

    • LK says:

      Hafner hasn’t played the field in years, and I don’t even think he did any fielding practice during ST. It’s not really an option. And given his track record, taking drastic measures to keep him healthy is probably necessary.

  13. mt says:

    The only way Hafner plays the field is in a injury filled game where we would have to play him to avoid forfeit (or avoid pitchers having to fill in at defensive positions.)

    I do think in light of infield shortages they could can Francisco and get up somebody who could field in infield – Boesch can backup OF – I worry about them playing Nunez before he is ready.

  14. YanksFan says:

    What concerns about this series. They can win every game 15-7 and not have to worry about bunts or double switches.

    Seriously, Colorado’s starters have not been good overall. I would guess even worse at home (no time to look up). The Yanks, even depleted as they are, should be able to score some runs. They just need their starters to not suck and pitch 6 or 7 innings.

    If Chris Nelson can’t hit this pitching staff in this park he doesn’t belong on the team.

  15. mustang says:


    • mustang says:

      Robinson Tilapia says:

      “his feels like just another day at the office in some ways. Again, lesser parts are going to have to step up.”

      Worth repeating!!!

      There not good enough, they are hurt, they can’t hit lefties, I will take a 3-5 road trip….

      Hummm now where have I heard these themes before.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Nothing I ever say on here is worth repeating, except for trying to establish Preston Claiborne as the new Pants Lendleton.

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