2:14pm ET: The Yankees have chosen door number three. Drury has been activated off the 10-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. I doubt anything will happen, but I’m curious to see whether Drury’s agent makes a stink about this, claiming his client is not healthy and should be on the disabled list (and thus collecting big league pay and accruing service time) rather than on an optional assignment.
11:30am ET: For the Yankees and Brandon Drury, decision time has arrived. Drury’s official 20-day rehab window expires tomorrow, which means one of two things must happen. Either the Yankees will activate him off the disabled list, or they’ll pull him off the minor league rehab assignment and basically start the process over. There’s no third option.
Drury, 25, has played 17 minor league rehab games to date — Triple-A Scranton has an off-day today, so he won’t play another game before his 20-day rehab window expires — during which he’s hit .315/.433/.481 (170 wRC+) with two homers. The numbers look good and Drury continues to receive treatment for the irritated tendon in his neck that is causing the migraines and blurred vision. Does that mean he’ll be activated tomorrow? Not necessarily.
Just last week, Drury told Randy Miller he is “not sure” how long it’ll be before he feels well enough to rejoin the Yankees. “It’ll take some time,” he said. Here’s what else Drury told Miller:
“It’s better, but it’s not where I want it to be yet to feel like I’m a hundred percent ready to go,” Drury said. “I still battle with it. Some days are better than others. I feel like I’ve had more good days than bad days recently, but right now I’ve got to keep my priority the treatment and get this thing right.
“I still get blurry vision sometimes just when I’m walking around or watching TV, and in baseball you need your eyes.”
Furthermore, late last week Drury started wearing yellow-tinted glasses during night games because he’s still looking for ways to improve his vision. It still gets blurry — “very blurry” at night, he said — and that’s kind of a problem. The Yankees and Drury say he is progressing, though clearly he is not all the way back yet. Activating a not yet healthy player off the disabled list doesn’t make much sense.
That means the Yankees will pull Drury back from rehab and start the process over, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. The Yankees can’t stop the rehab assignment, then start a new 20-day rehab window right away. You can’t rehab a player twice for the same injury. There are rules in place to prevent teams from manipulating rehab assignments like that. It’d have to be a new injury or a setback.
Also, Drury and his agent might have a problem with the Yankees claiming he’s suffered a setback and pulling him back from rehab. Sure, Drury said a few days ago he doesn’t feel ready, but he might feel ready now. He doesn’t want to be on the disabled list and playing rehab games in Scranton any longer than he has to, you know? The 20 days are up and Drury is probably looking forward to rejoining the Yankees. I know I would.
The Yankees could activate Drury and option him to Triple-A Scranton — he does have two minor league options remaining — which would allow him to continue playing until he feels right. The problem with that is Drury and his agent would argue he’s still dealing with the migraines and blurred vision, and injured players belong on the disabled list (collecting big league pay and service time) and not in Triple-A on an optional assignment.
Realistically, the Yankees are either going to activate Drury and add him to the MLB roster tomorrow, or they’re going to pull him back from rehab and send him for more tests. I don’t think they’re going to do anything nefarious to try to game the system. If Drury is healthy, they’ll activate him because he makes the roster better. And if he’s still not healthy, they want to find out how they can get him healthy as soon as possible.
This is an unusual situation because Drury’s not rehabbing a common baseball injury with a firm recovery timetable. He didn’t pull a hamstring and is now using rehab games to get back into game shape. The dude can’t see clearly, he’s undergoing treatment, and the Yankees are trying to find out whether his condition has improved enough that he can play games. It’s a trail-and-error rehab assignment more than anything.
I honestly have no idea how the Yankees will handle the end of Drury’s rehab assignment tomorrow. They could activate him or they could pull him back, and neither would surprise me. Either way, the Yankees can’t delay this decision any longer. The rehab window is up. Miguel Andujar has done a swell job filling in at third base, but the sooner the Yankees get healthy Drury back, the better.