Yankees place Ellsbury on disabled list, call up Rob Refsnyder

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

As expected, the Yankees have placed Jacoby Ellsbury on the 7-day concussion disabled list, the team announced. Rob Refsnyder has been called up to fill the roster spot. The Yankees have already been rained out today. We won’t see Refsnyder in uniform until tomorrow night.

Ellsbury left last night’s game after crashing into the wall making a catch on literally the first pitch of the game. Trainer Steve Donohue checked him out and Ellsbury did stay into complete the inning — no other balls were hit his way — before being removed prior to the second inning. It’s a concussion and a neck strain, the Yankees say.

The fact Refsnyder was called up rather than a true outfielder like Mason Williams tells us Aaron Hicks will step into the lineup full-time to replace Ellsbury. That’s the best move. Hicks is having a great year, and the Ellsbury injury gives the Yankees a chance to get the switch-hitter into the lineup everyday.

Refnsyder can play both corner outfield spots, but when Hicks sits, Brett Gardner will have to slide over into center field. That’s no big deal. He’s more than capable. The Yankees have not given any sort of timetable for Ellsbury’s return. He’s having a nice year and losing a good player stinks.

DotF: Rutherford, Gilliam extend hitting streaks in Low-A win

Here are the day’s notes:

  • 1B Tyler Austin (foot) faced hitters in live batting practice for the first time today, according to his Twitter feed. He’s been out since fouling a ball off his foot very early in Spring Training. Farm system head Gary Denbo recently said Austin could begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week, as long as things go well the next few days.
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) and LHP Daniel Camarena (shoulder) are likely to miss a few weeks, Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique told Shane Hennigan. With Austin, Choi, and 1B Greg Bird all injured, I wouldn’t expect 1B Chris Carter to be cut loose anytime soon.
  • UTIL Rob Refsnyder was sent back to Triple-A Scranton following last night’s game, the Yankees announced. He was up as the 26th man for the doubleheader. By rule, he had to be sent back down immediately after the game.
  • OF Isiah Gilliam was named the Low-A South Atlantic League Offensive Player of the Week. He went 11-for-23 (.478) with four doubles and two homers last week.

Triple-A Scranton (8-4 win over Pawtucket in 12 innings, walk-off style)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 2-4, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB — second homer of the season and second homer in the last three days
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 4-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB — tied the game with a two-out double in the ninth … had a chance to finish the cycle with a walk-off home run in the 11th — imagine doing that twice in the span of a month? — but they intentionally walked him … he’s up to .308/.353/.566 on the season
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-5, 1 BB, 1 K — snapped the bat over his knee after the strikeout (here’s a GIF)
  • RF Mason Williams: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • C Eddy Rodriguez: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 K — walk-off grand slam!
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 0-5, 1 K
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 62 of 96 pitches were strikes (65%)
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 , 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 30 of 42 pitches were strikes (71%) … good Frieri showed up tonight

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Game 34: Let’s Win Two

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees have a pair of games today, and I suppose it’s fitting they’re going to play two on Derek Jeter day. Jeter’s No. 2 will be retired later tonight, prior to the second game of today’s doubleheader. But first, the Yankees have Astros have to play the first game, and the Yankees will have to do it without Aroldis Chapman. He was placed on the disabled list earlier this morning.

Anyway, the Yankees come into today having lost three straight games for the first time since the first week of the season. Annoying! The Yankees are still in first place though — shout out to the Royals for taking care of business against the Orioles these last few days — and their +51 run differential remains best in the AL. A little bump in the road, this is. You’ve got to win one before you can win two, so let’s do that this afternoon. Here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Luis Severino

Perfect baseball weather in New York today. Bright blue sky, only a few clouds, and temperatures in the 80s with a cool breeze. Love it. This afternoon’s game will begin at 2:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Updates: As I said, Chapman has been placed on the disabled list. Chad Green is up to take his roster spot. Also, Rob Refsnyder has been called up to serve as the 26th man for the doubleheader, but apparently the rules say he is only available for the second game, not the first. Weird.

Game 30: Day After The Doubleheader

(Kirk Irwin/Getty)
(Kirk Irwin/Getty)

For all intents and purposes, the Yankees played four games in three days this weekend. They beat the Cubs on Friday, beat them again Saturday, then tied the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader before winning the second. That 18-inning game was a grind, huh? It took a lot out of me just watching it. Imagine playing in it? The Yankees must be gassed.

Anyway, the Yankees are back at it today in a new city. They’re in Cincinnati for a quick two-game series with the first place (!) Reds. Are they tired? Yeah, probably. But that’s baseball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you play 18 innings. Hopefully there’s no hangover and the Yankees keep playing well. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Hicks
  3. 1B Matt Holliday
  4. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy and cool in the Queen City, and there are some sprinkles in the forecast. Nothing that should delay the game or anything. They might have to play through some drizzle. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game, which I hope will last only nine innings.

Roster Move: As expected, the Yankees called up a fresh arm for the bullpen. Chad Green was called up and Rob Refsnyder was sent down, the team announced. Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve get to stick around after their kick ass performances last night. This is more evidence the bullpen shuttle is dead. In the post, those two would be halfway to Scranton already.  Green was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton yesterday before their rainout. He’s good for super long relief tonight, which I pray will not be necessary.

Yankees place Greg Bird on 10-day DL with ankle bruise, call up Rob Refsnyder

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

Greg Bird will finally get a chance to rest his achy ankle. Earlier today the Yankees announced they have placed their young first baseman on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised right ankle. Joe Girardi said Bird had an MRI a few weeks ago and another one today, and both showed a bone bruise that is healing slowly. Rob Refsnyder has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot.

“In watching him yesterday, and talking to (hitting coach Alan Cockrell) about his work yesterday, I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of explosion in his lower half,” said Girardi. “We talked after the game. We felt that we just need to give this some time … He just felt like his ankle wasn’t working properly. Yesterday was the first day I really, really noticed it.”

Bird, who missed all of last season with shoulder surgery, has been playing through soreness since fouling a pitch off the ankle at the end of Spring Training. He sat out a few games early in the season to rest the ankle and also get over an illness. Girardi said Bird will be shut down completely for 7-10 days — he won’t make the road trip with the Yankees — and they’ll reevaluate him after that.

“I know what I am capable of and those guys know, too. It’s frustrating but you got to deal with it,” said Bird to George King yesterday. “I have been open to them and I am playing and giving my all … (The ankle) is slowly getting better. When I am playing I am playing.”

Bird had a monster Spring Training and is off to a dreadful start to the regular season, hitting .100/.250/.200 (35 wRC+) with 30.6% strikeout rate in 72 plate appearances. His timing seems completely off at the plate — the bone bruise is in his right ankle, his front ankle when hitting, so it could have an effect on his leg kick — and he hasn’t looked 100% when running either.

Letting Bird play through the ankle soreness perhaps wasn’t the team’s best idea, especially given what happened with Mark Teixeira and his bone bruise two years ago. Hopefully this disabled list stint does the trick. The ankle gets to heal, Bird gets a bit of a mental break, then he can go rake in a few minor league rehab games before rejoining the Yankees.

Rob Refsnyder Optioned to Triple-A

(Charles Wenzelberg)
(Charles Wenzelberg)

Earlier today, the Yankees announced that Rob Refsnyder had been optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26-year-old was batting just .209/.314/.349 in 43 at-bats, and was openly put on the trading block three weeks ago. There was some talk that he could have a shot at heading north in a bench role on the heels of the Didi Gregorius injury, but his inability to play shortstop made that a long shot, and his punchless Spring did little to force the team’s hand.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Refsnyder going forward. The Yankees may be looking to clear a 40-man roster spot, and at least one team – the Rays – was interested in Refsnyder’s services. I wouldn’t be shocked if a (tremendously underwhelming) trade was in the near future.

This move also means that Pete Kozma will be the team’s utility infielder to start the season, as confirmed by George A. King III. He’s a career .222/.288/.293 (58 wRC+) hitter that hasn’t played in the Majors since 2015, but he has a fine glove at shortstop (9.7 UZR/150 in 1399 innings at the position) and experience at second and third, to boot. Kozma is an unexciting player at best, though that is true of most utility infielders – and it’s doubtful that he sees all that much playing time, barring another injury, so it makes sense to use a fungible piece in this role.

Sorting out the 35 players the Yankees still have in big league camp

Bird and Judge. (Presswire)
Bird and Judge. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only six days away, and at this point the Yankees still have nearly a full 40-man roster worth of players in big league camp. They have 35 players in camp and the World Baseball Classic is part of the reason. Some players, like Donovan Solano, have been in camp without actually being in camp these last few weeks. The Yankees and every other team needed the extra bodies while players were away at the WBC.

All throughout this week the Yankees will cut down their roster as they prepare for Opening Day on Sunday. It’s late in camp, so not only will the big league players start playing a full nine innings and back-to-back days, the minor leagues need to do that too. There’s only so much playing time to go around, and at this point of the spring, it’s time for clubs to emphasize their MLB roster players.

Earlier today the Yankees reassigned Solano, Wilkin Castillo, and Ruben Tejada to minor league camp, meaning there are now 35 players remaining in the big league Spring Training. Let’s take stock of those 35 players and figure out where they fit into the Opening Day roster equation. Some will definitely make it, some definitely won’t, and a whole bunch of guys are on the bubble. Let’s get to it.

Definitely Making The Team (19)

Might as well start here since this is our easiest and largest roster group. These are the players we know will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity.

Any doubt about Bird making the Opening Day roster was erased when he was named the starting first baseman last week. It was plenty fair to wonder whether he’d need some time to Triple-A to regain his strength and/or timing after missing the entire 2016 season with shoulder surgery, but he’s crushing the ball this spring. No doubts about him now. Everyone else is pretty straightforward, right? Right.

Very Likely To Make The Team (3)

This group includes three players who are not a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but are in prime position to make the club out of Spring Training. The three players: Aaron Judge, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Severino. Judge has had a strong camp to date. I’m not sure what else the Yankees could want to see from him, though I still don’t think the right field job is 100% his right now. Hicks has played well this spring. (Like he does every spring. Career .303/.365/.521 hitter in Spring Training!)

Mitchell and Severino are both competing for a rotation spot, though I think they’re on the roster either way, starter or reliever. Mitchell won a bullpen spot in camp last year and he hasn’t really done anything to not deserve a roster spot since. I still think Severino is the odds on favorite to get one of the open rotation spots. I’m also not convinced he’ll go to Triple-A should he not get a starting spot. The chances of Severino making the Opening Day roster in some capacity sure seem pretty darn high to me. He’s not a lock, but the odds are in his favor.

Injured (2)

Baseball can be cruel. The Yankees lost both Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin to injury this spring, and while neither suffered a severe long-term injury, they are going to miss the first several weeks of the regular season. Austin fouled a pitch off his foot and broke a bone. He could return to game action in mid-April. Gregorius strained his shoulder making a throw and could be out until May. Yuck. Both Austin and Didi are disabled list bound to begin the regular season.

In The Mix For A Roster Spot (7)

Wade. (Presswire)
Wade. (Presswire)

Most players in this group will be shuttle pitchers. Chad Green is competing with Severino and Mitchell (and Warren, I guess) for the two open rotation spots, and I feel the Yankees are much more willing to send him to Triple-A rather than stash him in the bullpen. Jordan Montgomery has impressed in camp, so much so that Joe Girardi is talking about him as a possible Opening Day roster option. Can’t say I expected to have him in this group at the outset of Spring Training.

Aside from Green and Montgomery, the other three pitchers in this group are all relievers: Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder, and Chasen Shreve. We will inevitably see those guys in the Bronx at some point this season, though I’d say it’s less than 50/50 they’re on the Opening Day roster. Heller probably has the best chance to win a job out of camp. He’s had a fine spring and is, in my opinion, the best bullpen prospect in the organization.

Rob Refsnyder, who has been mentioned as a trade candidate at times this spring, didn’t have much of a chance to make the Opening Day roster at coming into the spring. Then Austin and Gregorius got hurt which, if nothing else, opened the door for Refsnyder a little bit. His inability to play shortstop hurts him, obviously. The Yankees would have to be comfortable using Castro at shortstop.

An unexpected Opening Day roster candidate is Tyler Wade, who has played well this spring and could get a look at shortstop while Gregorius is sidelined. The question is whether the Yankees want to tie up a long-term 40-man roster spot — the veteran non-roster infielders in camp can be dropped off the 40-man roster as soon as Gregorius returns, but Wade will be on the 40-man for good — so Wade can fill-in for a month. I have him in this group for a reason though. I think it’s possible the Yankees go with him at short while Didi is out.

Oh Geez, They Might Actually Make The Team (3)

It happens every year, doesn’t it? Some random player you forgot the Yankees acquired shows up to camp, performs well, and before you know it, he’s on the Opening Day roster. Kirby Yates did it last year. Chris Martin the year before. Cody Eppley a few years before that. You never see it coming with these guys. Here are this year’s candidates, listed alphabetically:

  • Ernesto Frieri: The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal two weeks ago, which suggests they were impressed by the way he threw with Colombia during the WBC.
  • J.R. Graham: Graham recently had a three-run disaster outing, but eight of his ten Grapefruit League appearances have been scoreless. Ten strikeouts and two walks in 9.1 innings too.
  • Pete Kozma: Kozma’s chances of making the Opening Day roster improved with the news of the Gregorius injury as well as the Solano and Tejada demotions. He’s a candidate to help fill in either at shortstop or as the utility infielder.

With Gregorius hurt and two open bullpen spots, I’d put the chances of at least one of these five players making the Opening Day roster at: annoyingly high. My money is on Frieri making it. He’s looked pretty darn during the World Baseball Classic and with the Yankees, plus his experience as a Proven Closer™ will work in his favor.

Esmil Rog ... I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)
Esmil Rog … I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)

Long Shot To Make The Team (1)

The Yankees reassigned their very best prospects to minor league camp last week, which took some of the excitement out of the remaining Grapefruit League games. It was that time of the spring though. The kids have to go get ready for their seasons. The at-bats aren’t there any more in the big league camp. The regulars are going to play and play a lot this week.

The final player still in big league camp is catcher Kyle Higashioka. He is No. 3 on the catcher depth chart, which means he is heading to Triple-A Scranton until someone gets hurts or rosters expand in September, whichever comes first. Higashioka’s only chance to make the big league roster out of Spring Training involved and injury to Sanchez or Romine, and, thankfully, the Yankees have stayed healthy behind the plate.