The Yankees will be without Tyler Austin for the majority of Spring Training after the 25-year-old suffered a small fracture in his left foot, manager Joe Girardi told reporters (Twitter link via Joel Sherman of the New York Post). Austin sustained the injury when he fouled a ball off his foot in batting practice yesterday. He’ll be in a walking boot for the next three weeks and will be shut down from all baseball activity for six weeks, Sherman adds.
For most of the offseason, the expectation surrounding Austin was that he would compete with Greg Bird for at bats at first base with the Yankees. Given Austin’s minor league experience in the corner outfield, he could’ve conceivably mixed in some occasional time in right field (where Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are set to compete for the starting role). The signing of Chris Carter (another right-handed first base/DH candidate) certainly diminished Austin’s chances of making the roster, but the news of this injury seems to all but assure that he’ll head to the minors to open the regular season.
Austin made his Major League debut in 2016 and showed off plenty of power, hitting .241/.300/.458 with five homers and three doubles in just 90 plate appearances. He also struck out a troubling 36 times in that stretch, though, suggesting that his approach at the plate could still use some refinement. Austin is coming off an excellent season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he posted a combined .294/.392/.524 batting line and 17 homers in 444 plate appearances.
As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets, the Yankees will also be without Mason Williams for the next two weeks due to inflammation of his left patella tendon. Williams is a long shot to make the roster due to the presence of Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hicks, Judge and Matt Holliday on the roster. He’s played in just 51 Triple-A games (plus 20 MLB contests) and has an option remaining, so further work in the minors seems likely.