Archive for Injuries
Two weeks from today, teams will be able to call up extra players from the minors and expand their rosters to up to 40 players. The debate about September call-ups and whether it’s right to play the final month of the season with a different set of rules will fire back up, but I’m in favor of expanded rosters. The minor league season is over, give some guys a chance to come up and experience MLB life, and reward the teams with depth. That one team chooses to call up fewer players than another is their problem. The roster size limit is the same across the league.
At this moment right now, the Yankees only have seven players on the 40-man roster who are not in the big leagues and are actually healthy. The seven: LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Matt Daley, RHP Bryan Mitchell, C Austin Romine, C Gary Sanchez, UTIL Zelous Wheeler, and OF Zoilo Almonte. Both OF Ramon Flores (ankle) and RHP Preston Claiborne (shoulder) are currently playing in rehab games in the rookie Gulf Coast League and could be healthy in time for the start of September.
RHP Jose Campos had Tommy John surgery and OF Slade Heathcott had knee surgery earlier this year, so they are definitely not call-up options. RHP Jose Ramirez went down with … something early last month. He has a long history of injury problems, though I’m not sure what’s wrong with him this time. Either way, he is out and has yet to resume pitching in rehab games. C John Ryan Murphy was placed on the Triple-A Scranton DL just last week after taking a foul tip to the face mask, which implies a concussion. No word on how long he will be out. Surely the Yankees will play it safe.
Daley, Mitchell, Romine, Wheeler, and Almonte all seem like locks to be called up in September, mostly because they were all up at different points earlier this summer. That gives the Yankees two extra arms, a third catcher, another utility guy, and a platoon outfielder. Claiborne will definitely come back up if he’s healthy in time. I don’t believe Sanchez or a healthy Flores will be called up but Banuelos is up for debate. Last month I would have said no way, but he’s pitched much better of late. Right now, at this moment in time, I think he would get called up even if it’s only to soak in the big league atmosphere, not pitch. The Yankees did that with Andrew Brackman back in the day.
It seems likely the Yankees will cut ties with Rich Hill and call up one of their younger lefty bullpen options like LHP Tyler Webb or LHP Jacob Lindgren come September, and I suppose Daley and/or Wheeler could be easily cut loose to clear more spots. Maybe they prefer Scott Sizemore to Wheeler or something. Calling up prospects who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season is always a popular idea but it doesn’t happen all that often. The one times the Yankees have done it in recent years was with Romine and Murphy, and that was because they wanted to carry a third catcher in September. There is some risk to adding, say, Tyler Austin to the 40-man a few weeks before necessary, and teams are generally risk averse. The Yankees especially so.
Campos, Heathcott, and Ramirez are dead 40-man roster spots because of their injuries — Ramirez could return soon, obviously — limiting the team’s flexibility. They have the option of calling them up and transferring them to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot, but then you run the risk of having the player sit on the big league disabled list accruing service time next year if he has a setback over the winter or in Spring Training, or if his rehab just takes longer than expected. The only time I can remember the Yankees calling up an injured player for the sole purpose of putting him on the 60-day DL to clear 40-man spot was Justin Maxwell in 2011. He was not a prospect and no one cared about his service time. Calling up injured players and placing them on the 60-day DL is another one of those things we talk about that rarely happens.
So, unless the Yankees go against the grain to clear some 40-man spots, they only have five obvious September call-up candidates on the 40-man roster. Six if you count Banuelos, more if Claiborne and/or Ramirez and/or Murphy get healthy in time. Hill will probably turn into Lindgren or Webb as well. Only four of those extra players are position players and two of those four are catchers (assuming Murphy gets healthy), meaning if Joe Girardi wants to make wholesale changes in blowout games, he’ll still need to keep two or three regulars on the field. (Remember, they only have a three-man bench right now.) That’s not ideal, but that’s the way the roster works right now. Injuries have left the Yankees really short this year and that carries on down into the minors.
Rehabbing right-hander Andrew Bailey will not pitch for the Yankees this season, Joe Girardi confirmed to Chad Jennings. Girardi said the two-time All-Star and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year has suffered a “few setbacks” this summer as he works his way back from a torn shoulder capsule. Bailey had been throwing bullpen sessions in Tampa, last we heard.
The Yankees signed Bailey to a minor league contract over the winter knowing he was unlikely to pitch before September, if at all. The contract includes a club option and was always geared towards 2015. Bailey, 30, has thrown only 44 innings from 2012-14 (4.91 ERA and 4.68 FIP) due to a series of injuries, including the torn capsule and a torn thumb ligament. Torn capsules are very serious. No pitcher has ever returned from one and pitched like they did before getting hurt. The Yankees took a low-risk flier on Bailey and, given the nature of the injury, it’s no surprise he won’t be able to pitch this year.
As expected, Masahiro Tanaka threw 25 fastballs in the bullpen this afternoon, his first time throwing off a mound since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament in early-July. “Today I was able to throw the way I wanted to,” he said to Marly Rivera. “I felt very good and all is headed in the right direction.”
According to Rivera, pitching coach Larry Rothschild cautioned they have to “see how he feels in a few days” before deciding on the next step. Tanaka indicated he would like to throw breaking balls next time out. Rothschild also said the “way the team plays has no impact on his rehab, cause it’s not worth it,” and he’s right. The Yankees have to do what’s best for Tanaka long-term and not grasp at the last straws of contention by rushing him back.
4:01pm: Tanaka played catch again today and he will throw a 25-pitch side session in the bullpen tomorrow, according to Meredith Marakovits. It will be the first time he throws off a mound since getting hurt.
12:30pm: Via George King: Masahiro Tanaka could get back up on a mound and throw in the bullpen as soon as tomorrow. “It will be in the next few days if he continues to progress,’’ said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. That fits into the six-week timetable that was initially reported when he got hurt.
Tanaka, who has been out since early-July with a partially torn elbow ligament, threw ten fastballs off flat ground during Wednesday’s throwing session and everything went fine. He’s continuing to progress well with no pain and that is the most important thing. If Tanaka comes back in September, great. But at this point the focus should be on 2015.
5:15pm: Tanaka threw ten pitches during today’s throwing session — all fastballs — he told reporters. It was his first time throwing actual pitches and not just lobbing the ball while playing catch. He said everything went well, though it’s unclear what the next step will be.
12:30pm: Masahiro Tanaka continues to make progress with his throwing program as he tries to rehab from a partially torn elbow ligament. George King says the right-hander is now making 90 throws from 120 feet — he started his throwing program with 25 throws from 60 feet last week — though yesterday’s rain in Baltimore forced him to play catch in the Camden Yards lobby instead of on the field.
The Yankees are getting Michael Pineda back tonight and if all goes well, Tanaka will return next month. He still has yet to throw off a mound and progress to game situations and all that, so he’s still a few weeks away. The important thing is that he’s making progress. The Yankees need all the help they can get at this point, and squeezing another two or three starts out of Tanaka in September might be the difference in the postseason race.
Michael Pineda will be activated off the disabled list and return to the rotation on Wednesday, the Yankees announced. That’s what I was hoping for. Esmil Rogers will presumably move back into the bullpen after making a spot start last Friday.
Pineda, who has only made four starts this year, has been out since late-April with a muscle problem in his back/shoulder. If he pitches anything like he did earlier in the year (1.83 ERA and 2.73 FIP), he’ll be an enormous shot in the arm for the rotation and team in general.
The Yankees have placed Brian McCann on the 7-day concussion disabled list, the team announced. He took a foul tip to the face mask last night. Austin Romine has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton and will presumably back up Francisco Cervelli. With Mark Teixeira (finger) banged up and McCann out, Carlos Beltran is the team’s only consistent power threat.
11:31pm: Joe Girardi told reporters McCann will be re-evaluated tomorrow, which will determine if he needs to be placed on the disabled list.
10:18pm: McCann has been diagnosed with a mild concussion, though there really is no such thing as a mild brain injury. It’s unclear if he will be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list.
9:49pm: Brian McCann left tonight’s game for an unknown reason in the sixth inning. He took a hard foul tip to the face mask earlier in the game, but did stay in for another few innings. I supposed the Yankees could be playing it safe with him after taking a big lead. They do have catching depth in the minors, but losing McCann for any length of time would be pretty bad. Stay tuned for updates.
In his second rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, Michael Pineda struck out seven in 4.1 innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits and did not walk a batter. Fifty-two of his 72 pitches were strikes, and Donnie Collins says he sat 92-94 with his fastball. Pineda was scheduled to throw 70-80 pitches or so after throwing 58 pitches last time out. He’s been on the shelf since late-April due to a muscle problem in his back/shoulder.
Joe Girardi and the Yankees have hinted that Pineda could return to the rotation next week if this start went well. He lines up perfectly to replace Esmil Rogers, who made the spot start tonight in place of the injured David Phelps. The rotation has performed well of late, but obviously getting Pineda back would be huge. I’m sure it’ll be a day or two before we learn what the next step will be. He seems to be healthy and that’s the most important thing.
Mark Teixeira needed three stitches in his left pinkie after getting stepped on while sliding across home plate during last night’s game. X-rays came back negative but he will miss at least one game and maybe more. Here are some more injury updates prior to this afternoon’s series finale against the Tigers, courtesy of Marly Rivera, George King, Fred Kerber, Jack Curry, and Vince Mercogliano:
- Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) came through the first two days of his throwing session well — yesterday was a rest day and he will throw again today — and the team has a return date in mind, but they won’t reveal it. Can’t say I blame them. It is sometime in September, however. “I’m happy the early return on rest and two throwing days on Tanaka have gone well,” said Brian Cashman.“I’m not gonna say (the date). We’ll take this day-by-day … He’s in one of those situations where every day you hold your breath, hoping it’s a good day. The more of those that come, the better it will be for us.”
- CC Sabathia (knee) acknowledged he will continue to need treatment going forward and will never truly be 100% healthy because there is no cartilage left under his knee cap. Doctors removed a previously undetected bone spur during surgery and he’s scheduled to undergo another stem cell procedure in a few weeks. “Hopefully, this procedure he just had is good enough to return him to our rotation every five days for an entire year starting next year,” said the GM.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw his between-starts bullpen session yesterday and will make his next rehab start with Triple-A Scranton on Friday. He has been ruled out as a replacement for the injured David Phelps that day, though he could return to the rotation next week. “He’s probably available to go somewhere between 75 and 80 (pitches), and then we see where we’re at,” said Joe Girardi. “I said we wanted to get him to 90 (before bringing him back), but with the circumstances that we’re in, you never know.”
- Carlos Beltran (elbow) has started throwing to the bases as part of his throwing program. He expects to return to the outfield at some point — “I’m a position player, have to work on all aspects of my game,” he said — though Girardi acknowledged they aren’t as desperate to get him back in the field after the trade deadline. “There is less of a sense that we need to get him out there,” said the skipper. “We will keep him throwing. The one thing we don’t want to risk is him having a setback.’’
- Jacoby Ellsbury (thumb) is still sore after being stepped on during a rundown on Tuesday. “I’ll just play through it,” he said. There is no long-term concern.