Jacoby Ellsbury likely to miss more than 15 days with knee sprain

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Following last night’s game, Joe Girardi told reporters Jacoby Ellsbury is likely to miss more than the minimum 15-day DL stint due to his right knee sprain. Ellsbury suffered the injury when he caught a cleat on a swing and said the injury is on the outside of his knee. Girardi added surgery will not be required. That’s all we know at this point.

“It’s basically, he’s on the 15-day DL. Do I think we’ll get him back in 15 days? No. Do I think it’ll be a long DL stint? No,” said Girardi, according to Brendan Kuty. “But, as I’ve said all along, it’s going to depend on how he responds to the treatment and with the speed being a big part of his game, we’ll just have to see what he’s doing.”

Depending on the severity, a knee sprain could require anywhere from two weeks to two months to heal. Maybe longer. We’re just going to have to wait and see. Since Ellsbury is a speed player and this is a leg injury, the Yankees have to make sure he’s 100% before returning. I mean, that’s always true, but you catch my drift.

Slade Heathcott figures to play quite a bit in Ellsbury’s absence, at least against righties with Chris Young playing against lefties. Brett Gardner has slid into the leadoff spot with Carlos Beltran taking over as the number two hitter. Problem is Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius are batting seventh and eighth instead of eighth and ninth now, respectively.

Ellsbury is the Yankees’ best all-around player and one of their best hitters, so losing him for any length of time is really bad. Even the minimum 15 days was going to be tough. I have no idea what Girardi means when he says Ellsbury will be out longer than that, but hopefully it’s not much longer. I’m as excited to see Heathcott as anyone, but geez, no Ellsbury is a huge blow.

Update: Yankees place Jacoby Ellsbury on 15-day DL with knee sprain, call up Slade Heathcott

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

11:27pm: It’s official, Ellsbury has been placed on the 15-day DL with what they’re calling a right knee sprain, the Yankees announced. Heathcott will indeed be called up.

11:00pm: Ellsbury will be placed on the 15-day DL, reports Jack Curry. Slade Heathcott will be called up to fill the roster spot. Heathcott is not on the 40-man roster but either Brendan Ryan or Chase Whitley can be slid to the 60-day DL.

10:40pm: Ellsbury is going for an MRI, Joe Girardi told reporters after the game. He said expects Ellsbury to miss some time but not much. Ellsbury has a history of getting injured and staying injured longer than expected, so we’ll see. Obviously a leg injury for a speed guy is bad news.

8:14pm: Jacoby Ellsbury exited tonight’s game against the Nationals in the fourth inning with a right knee injury, the team announced. Ellsbury appeared to hurt himself on a swing, but he stayed in to run the bases. Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue came out to check on him, but Ellsbury remained in the game, scored from second on a single, and was then taken out of the game.

Replays showed Ellsbury pointing to his right leg — near his knee but it was tough to tell on television — while talking to Girardi and Donahue. He took a swing and his knee appeared to buckle a little bit. I didn’t even notice it at first. Ellsbury has had minor leg injuries during his time with the Yankees, including an ankle issue last year and calf problem this spring.

Needless to say, the Yankees can not afford to lose Ellsbury for any length of time. Brett Gardner is more than qualified to step in as the leadoff hitter, but Ellsbury is one of the team’s best hitters, and there’s no replacing that, regardless of lineup spot. His defense and base-running ability can’t be replaced either. Hopefully it’s nothing major.

Update: Tanaka to make first AAA rehab start Thursday

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

Tuesday: Tanaka will make his first minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton on Thursday, the Yankees announced. The RailRiders will be at home playing Durham (Rays) that night. There’s no word on how many pitches or innings Tanaka is scheduled to throw yet. All of his bullpen sessions have been around 30 pitches, so perhaps he’ll throw three innings and 45 pitches Thursday. We’ll see. Tanaka told reporters he is scheduled to throw 45 pitches Thursday.

Monday: Earlier today, Masahiro Tanaka threw a 29-pitch bullpen session at Nationals Park, the Yankees announced. The Yankees have an off-day today and open a quick little two-game series with the Nats tomorrow. Today’s bullpen session was scheduled and is Tanaka’s third as he works his way back from a wrist and forearm issue.

“We just felt that it would be good for him to throw one more, because he hasn’t thrown in a while. We’ll make sure he’s sharp, then he’ll go down and make a rehab start,” said Joe Girardi to Mark Feinsand over the weekend, following Tanaka’s second bullpen session. Apparently Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild mentioned Thursday as a possible rehab start date if today’s bullpen session went well, which it did by all indications.

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton are home Thursday, making them the likely destinations for the rehab start. Unlike Chris Capuano, who basically had to go through an entire Spring Training, Tanaka only needs a tune-up and could make just one or two rehab starts. Not four or five like Capuano, who was pitching in Extended Spring Training for a few weeks before joining one of the minor league clubs.

“I think you have to see where he’s at and how many pitches he gets to (in the first start). The one thing you don’t want is to have to be in a situation where he can only give you three or four innings,” said Girardi to Feinsand. Obviously the Yankees will play it safe with Tanaka, but everyone has insisted the injury was minor from the start, so his rehab could be quick. The Yankees could use him as soon as possible, that’s for sure.

Update: Chase Whitley to undergo Tommy John surgery

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Monday, 4:36pm: Whitley will indeed undergo Tommy John surgery, the Yankees announced. Team doctor Chris Ahmad will perform the procedure tomorrow. Not unexpected, but damn. Sucks. See you next year, Ace Whitley.

Friday, 6:05pm: Whitley does have a torn UCL, Girardi told reporters this afternoon. No decision has been on surgery yet. He’ll see another doctor in New York first. Capuano will start Sunday and push everyone else back a day.

5:51pm: As expected, the Yankees placed right-hander Chase Whitley on the 15-day DL this afternoon. He has a right elbow sprain, the team announced, which means his ulnar collateral ligament has been compromised somehow. Whitley went for tests today and Jon Heyman hears the initial diagnosis is indeed a UCL tear, so Tommy John surgery is a real possibility. The Yankees haven’t said anything about the exact nature of the injury yet.

Whitely, 25, left last night’s start in the second inning with an elbow injury. He told reporters after the game that his elbow had been bugging him for a while now, but he didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. “Tonight (the discomfort) just carried over to the game. I’ve been able to get through it in the game, and tonight obviously you could pretty much tell,” said Whitley to Chad Jennings.

If Whitley does indeed need Tommy John surgery, he would be the second Yankees starter to blow out his elbow on the Tropicana Field mound within the last 13 months. Ivan Nova tore his UCL in a start at the Trop last April and had Tommy John surgery soon thereafter So I guess we can blame the Rays, right? Heyman says Whitley will likely seek a second opinion before having surgery. I’d ask for a second opinion before having my moneymaker cut open too.

In four starts this year Whitley had a 4.19 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 19.1 innings. One start was good, one start was great, one start was bad, and one start was cut short by the injury. Whitley nearly made the team out of Spring Training, but the Yankees opted to send him to Triple-A so they could use him as an occasional spot starter to rest everyone else in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka‘s wrist/forearm injury pushed Whitley into the rotation full-time.

Joe Girardi confirmed Chris Capuano will replace Whitley in the rotation following last night’s game. Capuano threw six innings in his latest minor league rehab start earlier this week as he works his way back from a quad injury, so the timing worked out well. It’s unfortunate he’s coming back under these circumstances though. Girardi isn’t sure when Capuano will make his first start just yet. The Yankees have two off-days next week and don’t need their fifth starter again until May 26th.

For the time being, righty reliever Jose Ramirez has been called up from Triple-A to give the bullpen an extra arm. Presumably he or someone else (Branden Pinder?) will be sent down once Capuano is ready to be activated. There’s no need to activate Capuano just yet, so the Yankees get to carry an extra reliever for a few days. Ramirez, 25, has a 2.95 ERA (2.71 FIP) in 18.1 innings for the RailRiders this year.

Update: Chase Whitley exits Thursday’s start with elbow injury

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

10:05pm: Following the game, Joe Girardi told reporters Whitley has been dealing with an elbow issue for a while now. He didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. Ugh. Hate that. No shame in speaking up if you’re hurt, especially if you’re a pitcher and it’s your arm. That’s the moneymaker, man.

8:48pm: Whitley left the game with a right elbow injury, the Yankees announced. He’s being looked at by a doctor and will go for tests in the morning. YES showed Whitley winching in pain after throwing several pitches in that second inning. Ominous, this is.

8:03pm: Right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s start against the Rays in the second inning with an unknown injury. There was nothing obvious — Whitley didn’t appear to be favoring anything from what I saw — before Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to the mound. Whitley exited the game without even attempting a test pitch. Here’s the video.

Whitley walked his final batter on four pitches, none of which were particularly close. He made several other pitches that were well off the mark as well, including one that went to the backstop, which was the only indication something was wrong. The Yankees have not yet given any sort of update on the injury, so stayed tuned.

Injuries are never good, especially to pitchers, but the timing isn’t disastrous for the Yankees. Chris Capuano threw six innings in his third minor league rehab start earlier this week and will presumably be able to step right into Whitley’s rotation spot, if necessary. These things always work themselves out, don’t they?

Injury Updates: Tanaka, Nova, Capuano, Ryan, Lail

Same. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Same. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees and Rays continue their four-game series with the second game at Tropicana Field later tonight. Until then, here are some updates on injured Yankees, courtesy of Chad Jennings, George King, and Bryan Hoch.

  • Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session as scheduled this afternoon. It was his first time throwing off a mound since landing on the DL two weeks ago. Tanaka threw all of his pitches and everything went well. The Yankees are going to see how he feels tomorrow before determining the next step.
  • Ivan Nova (elbow) threw 33 pitches in an Extended Spring Training game earlier today. Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild were among those in attendance at the team’s complex in Tampa. “I was a little bit excited. It felt like I was doing too much. I guess I was trying to impress the manager and the pitching coach. I don’t know why,” said Nova, who will pitch in another ExST game on Monday.
  • Chris Capuano (quad) is scheduled to throw six innings and 90 pitches for Triple-A Scranton tonight. It’ll be his third and maybe last minor league rehab game. “We shouldn’t really need to see much more than that,” said Girardi. “We’ll make that determination on how he feels, but it’s possible (he could be activated for his next start), yeah.”
  • Brendan Ryan (calf, hamstring) was able to take batting practice yesterday. There’s still no firm timetable for a rehab assignment, let alone a return from the DL. Ryan started the season on the DL with a calf injury before pulling his hamstring a few days ago.
  • Brady Lail, who was hit in the head by a line drive in last night’s Double-A Trenton game, said he is fine on Twitter. Seems like he escaped with no major injuries, which is a minor miracle. Great news. That was scary.

Blister forced Luis Severino to exit Sunday’s start after two innings

(Trenton Thunder)
(Trenton Thunder)

Right-hander and top pitching prospect Luis Severino was forced to exit Sunday afternoon’s start with Double-A Trenton after only two innings due to a blister, Brian Cashman confirmed to Dan Martin. There’s no word on whether he will make his next start. We’ll find out soon enough.

Severino, 21, allowed four runs on five hits in his two innings before exiting, though his performance could have easily been affected by the blister. Can’t throw the ball the way you want if you can’t grip it properly, right? Severino threw 42 pitches in the two innings and figured to remain in the game had the blister not been an issue.

So far this season Severino has a 3.86 ERA (2.87 FIP) in six starts and 28 innings, all with Trenton. His strikeout (28.1%), walk (6.6%), and ground ball (48.7%) rates are all very good and it’s only a matter of time until his .355 BABIP returns to normal. I’m not too concerned about the relatively high ERA right now.

That said, the somewhat slow start has likely put an end to any thought of calling Severino up in the first half. Chase Whitley has been serviceable overall in his three starts, Bryan Mitchell is waiting in Triple-A, and Chris Capuano is about a week away from returning, so the Yankees have some pitching depth. There’s no temptation to rush Severino now.

Blisters can be very tricky. Severino could be ready to start later this week or the blister could sideline him for a few weeks if it’s particularly nasty. Both Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos missed several weeks with blister issues when they were with Trenton years ago, for example.

Sucks Severino is hurt, but it is only a blister, and in the world of pitching injuries, that’s as tame as it gets. Gotta build up those calluses, Luis.