Update: Montgomery appears to be okay after getting hit in head by line drive during batting practice

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

4:16pm ET: The Yankees announced that Montgomery was evaluated and cleared to start tomorrow’s game. Phew. That was scary.

3:44pm ET: Ken Rosenthal hears from a Yankees official that “it appears” Montgomery will be okay. Good news. The Yankees have not yet announced an official update on Montgomery or their pitching plan for tomorrow’s game.

3:34pm ET: According to multiple reports, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the right side of the head by a line drive while signing autographs during batting practice this afternoon. He was helped off the field and reportedly held a towel up to his head in the dugout for a few minutes before exiting back into the clubhouse.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Montgomery, so stay tuned. I imagine he’ll go through MLB’s concussion protocol, and also go for an x-rays and other tests. A line drive to the head is no joke. Hopefully Montgomery comes out of it with a bruise and nothing more. Head injuries are scary stuff.

Montgomery is currently scheduled to start tomorrow night’s game, though the Yankees might have to call an audible. Bryan Mitchell, who threw 67 pitches in relief Tuesday, could get the ball instead. Caleb Smith is scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and could be another option. We’ll see.

The Yankees placed Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation earlier today. They’re also without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (Tommy John surgery). Montgomery was recalled yesterday to take Sabathia’s spot in the rotation.

Shoulder inflammation sends Masahiro Tanaka to 10-day DL

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

1:03pm ET: Joe Girardi described the injury as fatigue, or a dead arm. There’s no structural damage and the Yankees are essentially planning to give Tanaka a ten-day break. He won’t throw for five days before getting back to it. That’s not so bad, as long as that’s all it really is.

12:24pm ET: The Yankees are down another starting pitcher. Masahiro Tanaka has been placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation, the Yankees announced. Gio Gallegos was called up to fill the roster spot for the time being. The Yankees are already without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (elbow). Pineda is done for the season with Tommy John surgery.

Perhaps the shoulder issue explains Tanaka’s rough start in Toronto three days ago, when he allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings plus two batters. Overall, this has been a poor season for Tanaka (4.92 ERA and 4.65 FIP), though he’s been much better over the last two months or so. He has a 3.33 ERA (3.64 FIP) in his last eleven starts after pitching to a 6.55 ERA (5.68 FIP) in his first 12 starts.

Tanaka’s next start was scheduled for Monday against the Mets, and the Yankees do have plenty of options to replace him. Bryan Mitchell is already stretched out and on the 25-man roster. Caleb Smith and Luis Cessa are sitting in Triple-A, as is Domingo German. All three of those guys are on the 40-man roster and eligible to be called up. None are within the ten-day send down window.

Chance Adams is a possibility as well, though he just started for Triple-A Scranton last night, so he’s not an option for Monday. The Yankees have an open 40-man roster spot. Adding Adams and calling him up at some point in the future would be a piece of cake. For what it’s worth, Smith is lined up to start tomorrow for the RailRiders and Cessa is lined up for Monday. That’s convenient.

There’s no word on how long Tanaka will be sidelined yet. I imagine he’s already had an MRI and all that. Sabathia received cortisone and lubrication injections in his troublesome right knee yesterday, and he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. It’s possible he could be activated as soon as his ten days on the DL are up, meaning the Yankees would only need someone to make one spot start to fill in for Tanaka before Sabathia returns.

The Yankees called Jordan Montgomery back up yesterday and he’s going to replace Sabathia. Montgomery is on a 180-ish innings limit this year, giving him roughly 60 more innings to go this year. That seems like plenty to get through the season, no? Hopefully. For now, the Yankees are down yet another starting pitching. Good thing they got two at the trade deadline, huh?

CC Sabathia heading for tests on troublesome right knee

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

CC Sabathia left tonight’s start after three innings due to discomfort in his troublesome right knee, Joe Girardi said. He’s going back to New York for tests and there’s concern he’ll have to go on the disabled list. Sabathia has had right knee problems for years now and has been wearing a knee brace during his starts since 2015.

Following the game Sabathia said he tweaked his knee at some point in the third inning tonight. It’s not something that has been gradually been getting worse the last few weeks. Sabathia admitted he is concerned because it hurts more now than it has the last few years. That sucks. His knee is basically bone-on-bone at this point. He gets regular lubrication injections and all that.

Should Sabathia go on the disabled list, which sounds likely, the Yankees have an obvious replacement in Jordan Montgomery. The only problem is Montgomery will be limited to 180 innings or so this season, per Girardi, so the Yankees will have to deal with that at some point. Groan. Pitching depth always has a way of evaporating.

Rehab progress means Greg Bird has a chance to be a factor in September

(Presswire)

For all intents and purposes, this is a second straight lost season for Greg Bird. He missed the entire 2016 season following shoulder surgery — he was able to squeeze in an Arizona Fall League stint — and this year he’s been sidelined since early May with ongoing ankle issues. Since the end of the 2015 season, Bird has only 263 plate appearances to his credit, and that includes Spring Training.

At this point the hope is Bird can return from ankle surgery at some point this year and maybe give the Yankees a nice shot in the arm down the stretch. The Yankees won’t push him too hard after the way things have gone this season, though it’s starting to look more and more likely Bird will return this year. He’s already started hitting just two weeks out from surgery. From Dan Martin:

“I played catch for the first time (Monday) and hit for the first time (Tuesday),” said Bird. “It felt great. I already feel the difference in a lot of things that I’ve done since the surgery and that makes me believe I could be back soon — especially with the stitches out and the (incision) is good … The discomfort is gone. Now it’s about getting ready to play again, getting in the weight room and on the field. I have to get used to it — and get used to not having the ankle in the back of my mind.”

Brian Cashman of course downplayed Bird’s chances of returning by the end of this month — “It’s hard to predict with this kind of injury because it’s unusual. But he’s progressing,” said the general manager to Martin — because that’s what Brian Cashman does. This isn’t the first time Bird has started working his way back this year, remember. He was on a rehab assignment for a few weeks in June before being shut down again.

The Yankees went out and acquired Todd Frazier essentially for first base depth even though he’s playing third, and I’m glad they did because I didn’t want the Yankees to be in a position where they were counting on Bird coming back. Anything he gives them this year is gravy as far as I’m concerned. In fact, as I said the other day, I’d like to see the Yankees bring in another bat. I don’t expect it to happen, but I’d like to see it.

So perhaps Bird can be that bat, even if he doesn’t return until sometime after rosters expand on September 1st. He’s had a very long layoff and needs to get his timing down, so his minor league rehab stint could run the full 20 days, but the fact Bird is already hitting and doing baseball stuff suggests his season is not over. The top priority here is next season and getting Bird ready for 2018. But, if he can make it back in September, the Yankees will be that much better.

Starlin Castro’s ongoing hamstring issues could push Yankees into August trade market

(Stephen Brashear/Getty)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty)

Thanks to a series of hamstring injuries, Starlin Castro has played in only six of the Yankees’ last 30 games. He spent two weeks and change on the disabled list in late-June and early-July, then a week after returning, he went back on the disabled list with another hamstring strain. Supposedly it’s two different strains. The second wasn’t a reaggravation of the first. Whatever. Point is, Starlin is hurt, and he’s not coming back anytime soon.

“He is still a ways away. He still hasn’t run,” said Joe Girardi to Dan Martin yesterday when asked about Castro’s status. The Yankees and Castro are in wait and see mode. They have to give him time to heal and then get him ready for big league games, which is a long-ish process. If Starlin were to start running on, say, Friday, he’s still roughly two weeks away because he has to run, take batting practice, get in rehab games, etc. That’s not good.

With Castro out for the foreseeable future, the Yankees have two options here. One, they could stick with the status quo and keep running Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade out there. Torreyes played well as the fill-in shortstop in April and he’s playing well right now, so going with him seems fine. At the same time, he played an awful lot earlier this month, and it got old quick. Wade? I like him a lot, though he has looked overmatched at times. (Many times.)

Option two is go out and get another infielder, which is tough to do now that the trade deadline has passed. Maybe the Yankees should have signed Danny Espinosa after the Angels released him and before he hooked on with the Mariners two weeks ago? Eh. He can really play defense, but he also hit .162/.237/.276 (39 wRC+) before being released and is a .207/.282/.354 (70 wRC+) hitter in his last 1,800 plate appearances dating back to 2013. I’m not going to complain about missing out on Espinosa. I was just throwing a name out there.

An August waiver trade to add a stopgap second baseman is certainly possible, though I get the sense the Yankees aren’t eager to trade a prospect and/or take on salary for a stopgap. Castro is going to be the second baseman when he returns. Potential August waiver trade candidates include Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, Jed Lowrie, and Brandon Phillips, so there will be infielders available. It’s just a question of whether the Yankees want to trade prospects or (more realistically) take on their salary to facilitate a trade for a stopgap player.

My guess is the Yankees are going to stand pat and roll with Torreyes and Wade for the time being. If Castro’s hamstring strain continues to linger or he suffers a setback, then maybe they’ll look to make a trade. Their top two middle infielders in Triple-A right now are Cito Culver and Donovan Solano, so yeah. The Yankees can’t afford to lose anyone else. Perhaps a small depth trade for a non-40-man journeyman is coming. Another Solano type.

So far the Yankees have not just gotten by without Castro these last few weeks, they’ve thrived. They’ve been able to climb back into first place. They added reinforcements at the trade deadline and Torreyes has shown he can be quite productive in short bursts. The ability to get the bat on the ball and run like hell can go a long way. The Yankees are at their best with healthy Castro though, so over these next few weeks, the priority will be getting him healthy for the stretch run. And if his recovery takes longer than expected, the Yankees may to look for some last minute help.

Update: Romine leaves with bruised hand, x-rays negative

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

6:17pm ET: Following the game Joe Girardi said Romine is unlikely to be placed on the disabled list, though he figures to miss a few days. Gary Sanchez will have to carry the workload behind the plate until then.

4:40pm ET: Good news: x-rays came back negative. Romine has a bruised left hand. The Yankees were looking at the possibility of scrambling for a backup catcher all of a sudden. Here’s the play:

3:51pm ET: Austin Romine exited this afternoon’s game after taking a pitch to the top of the left hand. It swelled up instantly. Romine did stay in the game to run the bases, though he was removed after the inning. I’m sure he’s heading for x-rays and all that. There are so many small, easy-to-break bones in your hand.

It’s worth noting Kyle Higashioka is currently on the Triple-A disabled list with a back injury, meaning veteran journeyman Eddy Rodriguez is the No. 3 catcher on the depth chart. The Yankees would need to add him to the 40-man roster to call him up should Romine need to go on the DL. Also, the trade deadline is tomorrow, so the Yankees could perhaps swing a minor deal for a catcher, if necessary.

The Yankees have not released an update on Romine, though they usually get the x-ray results pretty quickly. We should learn if there’s a fracture reasonably soon. Stay tuned for any updates.

Update: Michael Pineda will have Tommy John surgery

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Monday: Pineda will indeed have Tommy John surgery, the Yankees announced. He was examined today by Reds team doctor Dr. Timothy Kremchek, who agreed with the initial diagnosis and recommended surgery. Pineda will go under the knife tomorrow. Kremchek will perform the procedure in Cincinnati.

Friday: The rotation situation just got a little more dire. Brian Cashman announced this morning that Michael Pineda has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and Tommy John surgery has been recommended. He is going for a second opinion, which every pitcher does in this situation. Either way, Pineda’s season figures to be over.

This is the second straight year the Yankees have lost a starting pitcher to a blown out elbow in the second half. Last year Nathan Eovaldi shredded his elbow in August and needed his second career Tommy John surgery. I suppose the silver lining here is the timing. The Yankees still have time to act before the trade deadline. They didn’t with Eovaldi.

Pineda, 28, started his Yankees career with a major injury (shoulder surgery) and seems likely to end it with another major injury (Tommy John surgery). He is due to become a free agent after the season and the timing of this injury is just terrible for him. It’s going to cost him millions. He’s looking at a short-term “rehab and prove yourself” deal now.

Since coming over from the Mariners, Pineda has thrown 509 innings with a 4.16 ERA (3.65 FIP) for the Yankees. That includes a 4.39 ERA (4.65 FIP) in 96.1 innings this season. The Yankees came out ahead in the trade because Jesus Montero was so awful for Seattle, though Pineda never did become the top of the rotation force they envisioned.

As for the rotation going forward, Cashman said Luis Cessa will make a start next week and Chance Adams is an option as well. I imagine pitching well in Sunday’s doubleheader would buy Bryan Mitchell another shot too. Pineda hasn’t been great, but losing pitching is never good. I feel terrible for the guy considering the timing too. We’ll always have those strike ’em outs, Big Mike.