Update: Aaron Hicks exits Sunday’s game with oblique injury

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

5:56pm ET: Hicks will be placed on the disabled list, he told reporters following today’s game. He said he was told he would miss 3-4 weeks. That is: bad.

4:21pm ET: Hicks left today’s game with right oblique tightness, the Yankees announced. So it’s not the Achilles. It’s a new injury. That’s bad. Obliques can take a while to recover. Hicks is heading for tests to determine the severity of the injury and all that. Fingers crossed.

3:41pm ET: Aaron Hicks was removed from this afternoon’s game after four innings, presumably with an injury. The YES Network cameras caught him grimacing several times throughout the game, most notably after running to first on a base hit, and running down a ball in center field. There wasn’t one obvious play where he suffered the injury.

Hicks missed a few games with an Achilles injury last weekend. He returned a few days ago and seemed to be running fine since, though he could have reaggravated the Achilles injury at some point this weekend. Or it could be something else entirely. The Yankees haven’t announced an update yet, so stay tuned.

The Yankees are already without Jacoby Ellsbury, who is currently on a minor league rehab assignment. I doubt they’d rush him back from a concussion should Hicks miss time. Maybe they’ll call up Clint Frazier or Dustin Fowler. If Hicks lands on the DL, I’d bet Rob Refsnyder comes back until Ellsbury is ready. We’ll see.

Gleyber Torres will undergo Tommy John surgery


The season is over for Gleyber Torres. The Yankees announced this afternoon that their top prospect, and one of the best prospects in baseball, will soon undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Torres tore his ulnar collateral ligament when he hyper-extended his elbow on a play at the plate over the weekend.

Here is video of the play:

Initial x-rays came back negative, but additional tests Monday showed the ligament tear. I suppose the silver lining here is that the injury is not to his throwing elbow. Torres is expected to be ready to go in time for Spring Training. The Tommy John surgery rehab timetable for position players is much shorter than it for pitchers.

Torres, 20, came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade last summer. He hit .287/.383/.480 (142 wRC+) with 14 doubles, seven homers, a 20.0% strikeout rate, and a 12.8% walk rate in 55 games and 235 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Reports indicated the Yankees were planning to call up Torres later this season to take over at third base, though obviously that is off the table now. Baseball, man, It can be a real son of a bitch. Get well soon, Gleyber.

Bird’s setback means it’s time for the Yankees to start looking for first base help


Yesterday afternoon, Brian Cashman announced the Yankees have “pulled the plug” on Greg Bird‘s rehab assignment because he still doesn’t feel right. The weird thing is that it’s unclear what exactly doesn’t feel right. Officially, the Yankees pulled him off rehab with a right knee contusion. So is this a new injury? Or is the ankle still a problem?

Either way, Bird’s rehab assignment has been put on hold. Hopefully this is a short-term thing and he can resume playing in a few days. That would be rad. At this point though, given all the injury issues, it might be time for the Yankees to stop counting on Bird for first base help this season, and begin looking outside the organization.

Now, let me be clear about this: I’m not saying the Yankees should give up on Bird. Hardly. He remains a big part of the future (I hope) and he should continue to get chances to be the first baseman of the future. What I am saying is Bird is dealing with so many problems right now …

  1. Continued recovery from shoulder surgery and the ongoing process of shaking off the rust.
  2. A bone bruise in his ankle from the foul ball in Spring Training.
  3. Now a knee contusion, apparently.

… that taking a step back and allowing him to focus on getting healthy rather than doing all he can to return to the Yankees as soon as possible might be the best thing. Does Bird want to do that? Of course not. He’s a competitor and he missed all of last season. He wants to get back into the lineup as soon as possible. It would be weird if he didn’t.

The Yankees have to take the big picture into consideration though. Bird already spent a month playing through an ankle injury — a bad decision that only looks worse as time goes on — and now apparently he has a knee problem. The absolute last thing anyone wants is Bird to re-injure his shoulder by changing his mechanics at the plate to compensate for a weakened lower half. That’s something that can happen subconsciously.

The best thing now might be treating this almost as a rehab season. Let Bird rest and get healthy. The knee, the ankle, everything. Give him as much time as he needs, then give him regular at bats in the minors to make sure his swing is all the way back. Remember how bad he was earlier this season? No one wants to see that again. When Bird comes back, the Yankees want him to be healthy and ready to do damage.

For that to happen, a “rehab” year for Bird, the Yankees will need to bring in first base help. Chris Carter had a nice game last night, though he’s been pretty terrible overall, and I’m not sure there’s enough upside here to remain patient. Yes, Carter has legit 40+ homer power and that’s cool. There are so many other holes in his game though. Last season was a career year for him, and those 41 homers came with a 112 wRC+ and +1 WAR. Meh.

Who the Yankees could target for first base help is another conversation for another time, and something we’ll no doubt talk about in the near future. The Eric Hosmer rumors are inevitable — did you realize the Royals are only two games back of a postseason spot? — though I’m partial to Yonder Alonso. There are first basemen out there to be had, better first baseman than Carter who would make it easier to be patient with Bird.

Even though they’re in first place, the Yankees are a rebuilding transitioning team at heart right now, and they’re focused on developing their young players to build a new core. Bird is part of that group. He’s not healthy right now though. He’s not healthy and it seems like his swing might not be all the way back either (3-for-21 in Triple-A on rehab). This is extending beyond the simple “he’s banged up” stuff players deal with all the time.

The Yankees should put Bird’s long-term future first, and in the wake of this latest setback, that means given him all the time he needs to get 100% healthy and to get his swing back. Going out and getting first base help, someone better than Carter, would make that easier. And whenever Bird is all the way back, be it August or September or next April, the Yankees will find a way to get him in the lineup.

Yankees place CC Sabathia on DL, send down Herrera, call up German and Cessa


As expected, CC Sabathia is heading to the disabled list. Joe Girardi confirmed the move while speaking to reporters this afternoon. It’s a Grade II left hamstring strain. Yuck. Domingo German has been called back up to replace Sabathia on the roster. The ten-day rule doesn’t apply to him since he’s replaceing a player on the disabled list.

The Yankees did not provide a timetable for Sabathia’s return, but the Grade II strain ensures he will be out a while. We’re not going to see him until after the All-Star break. That really bites. Sabathia, who has a 3.46 ERA (4.11 FIP) this season, suffered the injury throwing a pitch earlier this week. The same injury, a Grade II left hamstring strain, ended his season early in September 2013.

German made his big league debut Sunday afternoon and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings to close out the blowout win. Trackman clocked his average sinker at 98.2 mph. Yowza. I’m sure there’s some “first MLB appearance” adrenaline in there, but 98 mph isn’t uncharted territory for German. He can really bring it. German came over in the Nathan EovaldiMartin Prado trade.

In addition to the Sabathia and German moves, the Yankees have also optioned Ronald Herrera and called up Luis Cessa. Girardi told Erik Boland that Cessa is going to replace Sabathia in the rotation, though they haven’t decided whether he’ll start Saturday or Sunday. Sunday is Sabathia’s turn, though starting him Saturday would give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day. I’m a Cessa fan. I’m happy.

In the short-term, man, the Yankees are really going to miss Sabathia. He had an ugly four-start stretch back in May, but otherwise he’s been rock solid all season, and especially of late. Four earned runs allowed in his last six starts and 36.1 innings! With Tanaka doing his best Javy Vazquez impression, Sabathia steadiness was much appreciated.

Greg Bird still doesn’t feel right, Yankees have “pulled the plug” on his rehab


7:33pm ET: The Yankees announced Bird has been pulled off his rehab assignment with a right knee contusion. He fouled a pitch off his shin the other day, but was fine and stayed in the game. I wonder if that’s just a mistake and they meant a right ankle contusion? Either way, it’s a setback.

6:27pm ET: Greg Bird‘s rehab has hit a snag. Brian Cashman told Erik Boland that Bird still doesn’t feel well, so they have “pulled the plug” on his rehab. The issue is still with his ankle, not his surgically repaired shoulder. Bird has been out since early May with a bone bruise in the ankle, an injury he originally suffered in the final week of Spring Training. He fouled a pitch off the ankle and tried to play through it in April.

Bird has been on a minor league rehab assignment the last two weeks, going 9-for-38 (.237) with 12 walks and four strikeouts in 12 games. The numbers don’t mean much though. How does he feel? How does his swing look? Does his have his lower half working right? Those are the important questions, and no, apparently he doesn’t feel good.

Joe Girardi said earlier today Bird will see a doctor, and hopefully that brings good news. Maybe it is nothing more than normal “hey you’re playing baseball everyday again” soreness. It’s not easy to be optimistic though. The Yankees have a pretty terrible history with bone bruises (see: Teixeira, Mark) and Bird himself has had plenty of injury issues in his career, even going back to his days in the minors.

Unless the doctor visit brings good news, the Yankees are going to have to start thinking about trading for a new first baseman. Chris Carter has worn out his welcome and Tyler Austin probably isn’t good enough to start at first base for a contender. Playing Matt Holliday there full-time doesn’t seem like a good idea at his age either.

I suppose the good news is the Yankees are in first place despite getting nothing from first base, a premium offensive position. They shouldn’t bank on that continuing though. If Bird is going to miss more time, they have to start thinking about an upgrade if they plan on giving themselves the best possible chance to contend. They can’t keep waiting for Bird. Not at this point.

Update: CC Sabathia exits start with hamstring strain

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

11:59pm ET: Sabathia has a left hamstring strain, the Yankees announced. Here’s video of the injury. I imagine Sabathia is heading for tests to determine the severity of the strain.

11:35pm ET: CC Sabathia left tonight’s start after four innings with an apparent left leg injury. He grabbed at his hamstring between pitches at one point, though he did stay in to complete the inning. Sabathia walked off the field gingerly and headed to the clubhouse.

The Yankees have been really fortunate with the health of their starting pitchers so far this season. They used a sixth starter for the first time this past weekend, and that was only to give the struggling Masahiro Tanaka an extra day, so he wouldn’t have to face the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

I suppose the good news is the problem is not with Sabathia’s right leg, with the troublesome knee. He’s had all sorts of problems with his right knee over the years. Whatever it is, hopefully it’s minor. The Yankees have not yet provided an update on Sabathia, so stay tuned.

Update: Jacoby Ellsbury suffers concussion crashing into wall


8:24pm ET: Ellsbury has indeed suffered a concussion, the Yankees announced. He also has a sprained neck. Ellsbury will presumably be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list, meaning he’ll have to be cleared by MLB’s doctors before he can be activated. Mason Williams, Clint Frazier, and Dustin Fowler are the Triple-A outfielders. Williams is the only one on the 40-man roster, though the Yankees do have an open spot.

7:38pm ET: Jacoby Ellsbury exited tonight’s game after crashing into the center field wall making a catch on the very first pitch of the game. Here’s video. Trainer Steve Donohue looked at him and Ellsbury did stay in the game to complete the inning. He was removed in the second, however. His lineup spot did not come up in the bottom of the first.

Earlier this season Ellsbury missed one game with a pinched nerve in his elbow after another wall-crashing catch. This time they were focused more on his head and neck, so obviously the concern is a concussion. Ellsbury has never had a concussion in pro ball. The internet tells me he suffered one crashing into the wall making a catch in college though.

Ellsbury, 33, came into the game hitting .281/.349/.422 (113 wRC+) with four home runs and eight stolen bases in 38 games this season. The Yankees have a really great fourth outfielder in Aaron Hicks, plus several great outfield prospects in Triple-A, though losing Ellsbury would still stink. The more good players, the better.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Ellsbury, so stay tuned.