Yankees place CC Sabathia on 15-day DL with groin strain, call up Phil Coke

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

3:54pm: Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon Sabathia hurt himself in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game. He didn’t say anything until after the game, however. Nova will indeed move into the rotation and start in Sabathia’s place. The timetable for Sabathia is about three weeks, says Girardi.

2:24pm: Earlier this week CC Sabathia had his best start in about three years, so, naturally, he was placed on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain today, the Yankees announced. We’re not allowed to have nice things. Phil Coke has been called up to fill the roster spot. Definitely never expected to write that sentence again.

Sabathia threw seven shutout innings against the Orioles two nights ago. I have no idea when he got hurt, but Sabathia has been known to pitch through pain, so it could have happened during that start. He’s pitched with a bone spur in his elbow, a hamstring strain, and all sorts of knee problems over the years.

In all likelihood Ivan Nova will step into the rotation to replace Sabathia. Luis Cessa and Chad Green, both of whom came over in the Justin Wilson trade, are pitching well in Triple-A and are rotation candidates as well. It’s unclear how long Sabathia will be sidelined. Hopefully it’s only two weeks and not any longer.

My guess is Coke is a stopgap. The Yankees signed him out of an independent league last week where he had been working as a starter, so he’s stretched out to 70 pitches or so. Coke will replace Nova as the long man. Aroldis Chapman is due to return Monday and that may be the end of Coke’s second stint in pinstripes.

Sabathia, 35, has a 3.81 ERA (3.51 FIP) in five starts and 28.1 innings this season. He’s been the Yankees’ second best starter overall. Sabathia’s vesting option for 2017 is based on the health of his shoulder, not his groin, so this injury doesn’t change anything.

X-rays negative after Brett Gardner takes pitch to elbow


Following tonight’s win, Joe Girardi announced x-rays on Brett Gardner‘s right elbow were negative after he was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Here’s the play. Gardner did remain in the game at first, but was eventually replaced in the outfield in the ninth inning.

Girardi did admit to being concerned because Gardner is pretty sore. The Yankees are already without Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) and they can’t afford to lose another one of their top hitters. That said, the Yankees do have plenty of outfield depth, with Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley in MLB and Slade Heathcott, Ben Gamel, and Aaron Judge in Triple-A.

Hopefully this is nothing more than a nasty bruise and Gardner and return to the lineup in a day or two, if not tomorrow. The Yankees currently have a three-man bench and an eight-man bullpen, so if Gardner does need to miss more than a few days, the team will have no choice but to call up another position player.

Yankees place A-Rod on 15-day DL with hamstring strain, call up James Pazos

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Yankees placed Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain this afternoon, the team announced. Left-hander James Pazos has been called up to fill the roster spot on what I assume is a temporary basis. No 40-man roster moves are required or anything like that.

A-Rod left last night’s game after coming up lame running out a ground ball in the fifth inning. Here’s video of the injury. Rodriguez was replaced by pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley in the eighth inning, and the Yankees sent him for an MRI this morning. There’s no word on the severity of the strain just yet. Is this a two weeks thing or a two months thing?

The fact the Yankees called up a reliever — they’re two days into a 20 games in 20 days stretch — indicates they will play Ackley and Aaron Hicks more going forward, with the veteran regulars rotating in and out of the DH spot. Despite his slow start, I’m ready to see what Hicks can do on an everyday basis. I say run him out there full-time with A-Rod out.

The Yankees could and likely will call up another position player like Rob Refsnyder or Ben Gamel (or Aaron Judge or Nick Swisher) and get back to a normal four-man bench at some point during this 20-day stretch. For now, having the extra left-hander in the bullpen will be nice against the lefty heavy Orioles and Red Sox this week.

Rodriguez is only hitting .194/.275/.444 (100 wRC+) on the season overall, but he’s gone 7-for-20 (.350) with three home runs in his last six games, so he was heating up. The Yankees need all the offense they can get right now. A-Rod missed a few games but was able to avoid the DL after tweaking his oblique taking swinging in the batting cage between at-bats last week.

A-Rod going for MRI on injured right hamstring tomorrow

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Following tonight’s loss, Joe Girardi confirmed Alex Rodriguez has a right hamstring injury and will go for an MRI tomorrow. A-Rod pulled up lame running out a ground ball in the fifth inning, then was replaced by pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley in the eighth. Here’s the video.

A-Rod went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the game before being lifted. He went into Tuesday’s game on a 7-for-16 (.438) hot streak, and three of those seven hits were homers. Rodriguez missed a few games with a sore oblique last week after tweaking something in the batting cage.

If the injury is a day-to-day thing — and I hope it is — my guess is Aaron Hicks will take over in right field with Carlos Beltran sliding over to DH. If it’s a long-term injury, well, that’s a much bigger problem. I wonder if we’ll see Nick Swisher in that case. Hopefully this is nothing.

James Kaprielian heading to DL with elbow inflammation


Bad news: right-hander and top pitching prospect James Kaprielian is heading to the High-A Tampa DL, the Yankees announced. The team says he will be “treated conservatively” with rest and a throwing program, and there is no timetable for his return. The MRI showed no structural damage in his elbow, so that’s good.

Kaprielian, 22, has a 1.50 ERA (1.97 FIP) with 22 strike outs and three walks in 18 total innings this season. He’s been marvelous. Reports have indicated his fastball has jumped into the 94-96 mph range and even as high as 99 at times. It’s not uncommon for big velocity spikes to be followed by elbow problems, unfortunately.

The elbow injury and conservative rehab approach could very well erase any chance Kaprielian had at pitching in the big leagues this year. He was going to have to fly though the minors, and even then he would have been on some sort of innings limitation. Bah.

A-Rod and Hicks injuries create some short-term roster headaches for the Yankees


The just completed nine-game homestand did not go well for the Yankees. Not at all. They lost six times in the nine games, and, over the weekend, they lost both Alex Rodriguez and Aaron Hicks to injury. A-Rod hurt his oblique taking swings in the indoor batting cage between at-bats Sunday, and Hicks jammed his shoulder attempting a diving catch Friday.

The good news is neither A-Rod nor Hicks suffered a serious long-term injury. The MRI on A-Rod’s oblique came back negative, and he did travel with the team to Texas for their upcoming series with the Rangers. Hicks’ MRI showed “traumatic bursitis,” which sounds a lot worse than it really is. He received a cortisone shot and is only expected to miss a few days.

That A-Rod and Hicks only suffered day-to-day injuries is good news. The bad news is the two simultaneous injuries create some roster headaches for the Yankees. They have 23 healthy players on their 25-man roster right now, which means only a two-man bench. Playing short for a few days while one player nurses an injury is one thing. Playing short two position players is very different.

‚ÄúThat would be pretty hard to do … Playing two short would be really difficult,” said Joe Girardi to Daniel Popper following yesterday’s game. The Yankees said they were not going to make an immediate roster move when they announced the results of A-Rod’s MRI last night, but the key word there is immediate. They could still make a move prior to tonight’s game and I expect they will.

What I think will happen and what I think should happen are different things. I think the Yankees will place Hicks on the DL and ride out A-Rod’s injury for a few days. I think the Yankees should place both Hicks and A-Rod on the DL to not only avoid playing short-handed, but also to give the two players as much time as necessary to get healthy. A DL stint means no temptation to bring them back early.

Remember, oblique injuries are very tricky and very easy to re-aggravate. Plus A-Rod is 40 now, and 40-year-olds tend to take longer to heal that 25-year-olds. I can’t help but feel like something the Yankees believe will keep Alex out for, say, four or five days will end up sidelining him for nine or ten days. Same with Hicks to a lesser extent. He won’t be back until the end of the week at the earliest based on the five or six day timetable the team threw out there.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees have 40-man roster flexibility — they have one open spot thanks to Aroldis Chapman‘s suspension, plus two 60-day DL candidates (Greg Bird, Bryan Mitchell) and likely a third (Branden Pinder) — and a bunch of call-up options in Triple-A. A right-handed hitter(s) who can play a little outfield would be ideal, though not completely necessary. Here are the main candidates:

1. Nick Swisher. Swisher has raked in his short time with Triple-A Scranton (175 wRC+), which is good to see, but be careful not to read too much into a 12-year veteran mashing Triple-A pitching. He’s healthy and that’s good. Swisher also stunk the last two years and his knees are shot, so he’s basically a first baseman and DH at this point. (He hasn’t played the outfield at all with Scranton.) Also, Swisher can’t be sent back down when Hicks and A-Rod are healthy.

2. Ben Gamel. Gamel is a left-handed hitter and the Yankees already have three of those in the outfield if you include Dustin Ackley. He has hit this year though (118 wRC+), and he’s far better suited to play right field than Ackley. In a perfect world Carlos Beltran will slide into the DH spot full-time while A-Rod is on the shelf. Gamel may be the best option in terms of expected performance on both sides of the ball.

3. Aaron Judge. Well, if the Yankees want a right-handed batter, Judge would fit the bill. He’s played well in the early going (125 wRC+) despite some strikeout issues (30.9%). The Yankees have been going young whenever possible lately, and Judge would be a better fit than Gamel because he is a righty. That said, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and sending him back down when Hicks and A-Rod return would burn his first minor league option year. Also, Judge simply might need more time in Triple-A. That strikeout rate is no bueno. You’d hate to rush a guy this talented before he’s ready.

4. Lane Adams. The Yankees claimed Adams off waivers this winter specifically because he’s a right-handed hitting outfielder, something they lacked at the upper levels. He started the year in Double-A before moving up to Triple-A when Cesar Puello got hurt, and so far he hasn’t stood out with the bat (78 wRC+). Adams is the best defender among the team’s outfield options, which is not nothing. It’s unknown how much any of these guys will contribute with the bat right now. Adams could help the most in the field.

5. Rob Refsnyder? Once upon a time Refsnyder was a right fielder, though he has played only nine games at the position since 2013. The Yankees had him work out exclusively at second and third base in Spring Training and Triple-A. That said, he’s a right-handed hitter, and he did some damage against lefties late last year. The Yankees could use the help against southpaws. Would they stick Refsnyder in right field for a few days until Hicks returns? My guess is no, but it is an option.

Gamel is the easy move because he’s already on the 40-man roster and is playing the best on both sides of the ball right now. Swisher is the “old Yankees” move in that he’s a veteran who would be getting priority over younger players. Adams is the boring option, Judge is the bold option, and Refsnyder is the out of the box option. If the Yankees do stick someone (Hicks) on the DL, I think Gamel would get the call. I’m wrong all the time though.

Neither A-Rod nor Hicks have been hitting all that much in the early going, so it’s possible whoever gets called up will actually improve the team in the short-term. Still, the Yankees want to get those two going, and they’re at their best when those two guys are playing up to their potential. A-Rod and Hicks won’t be able to snap out of their funks while injured. There’s nothing the team can do about that though. They just have to hope they can return soon.

Point is, having A-Rod and Hicks hurt at the same time really creates some problems. The injuries remove two right-handed bats from a team struggling against lefties (74 wRC+) and they could be left playing shorthanded for a few days. These are only day-to-day injuries, but the fact both happened at the same time gives the Yankees little choice but to stick someone on the DL for the time being.

Update: MRI on A-Rod’s oblique comes back negative


6:27pm: The MRI on A-Rod‘s oblique came back negative, the Yankees announced. I assume that means he doesn’t have any kind of strain that will require a DL stint. The Yankees say no immediate roster move will be made, and Alex will travel with the team to Texas. They love him down there, you know.

3:42pm: Alex Rodriguez left this afternoon’s game with an oblique injury, reports Jack Curry. The Yankees have since confirmed the news. A-Rod tweaked his side while taking swings in the batting cage between at-bats. There’s no word on the severity just yet, though the Yankees say he’s heading for an MRI.

The Yankees are currently without Aaron Hicks, who is nursing a shoulder injury and received a cortisone shot yesterday. Obliques can be very tricky and easy to re-aggravate. If A-Rod is going to be down for a few days, the Yankees are going to have to put someone on the DL and make a call-up. Can’t play with a 23-man roster.

Dustin Ackley doesn’t have much right field experience at all, so while putting him in right and Carlos Beltran at DH is possible, it might not be the best move with both Hicks and A-Rod out. Nick Swisher and Ben Gamel seem like the primary call-up candidates, though I’d be surprised if it’s Swisher, especially if both Hicks and A-Rod are due back soon.

Rodriguez, 40, came into Sunday’s game 7-for-53 (.132) on the season. He ripped a double off the wall this afternoon and had a home run knocked down by the wind yesterday. The Yankees won’t miss his bat in the short-term, but he’s not going to get out of his funk sitting on the DL either. Hopefully he comes back soon.