Yankees utilityman Dustin Ackley has been diagnosed with a torn right shoulder labrum, manager Joe Girardi said today, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. A surgical option is on the table, per the report.
Ackley, 28, had struggled to a .148/.243/.148 batting line over 70 plate appearances. He had shown promise in a brief run with New York late last year after being acquired from the Mariners, but the former top prospect was limited by a back issue.
Originally a second baseman, Ackley has increasingly seen time in the outfield over recent years. For New York, he played mostly in right and at first base, as he’s filled in the gaps that have arisen due to other injuries. A left-handed hitter, Ackley has mostly been utilized against righties; unsurprisingly, he’s been better when hitting with the platoon advantage over his career.
The loss of Ackley for what seems to be a lengthy stretch will obviously force a roster realignment. Rob Refsnyder could function in a generally similar role, though he has limited outfield experience, has never played first as a professional, and hits from the right side. Fortunately for New York, the club has plenty of left-handed-hitting options in the outfield. And for now at least, first baseman Mark Teixeira is battling through his own injury difficulties and poor start to the year. Losing Ackley removes a fill-in option there, though it seems that the club feels reasonably comfortable utilizing reserve catcher Austin Romine and third baseman Chase Headley at first to spell Teixeira.
Ackley’s injury certainly raises questions about his future with the Yankees. He’s earning $3.2MM this year in his second-to-last run through the arbitration process, and could figure as a non-tender candidate if he can’t return to health and turn around his work at the plate later this season.