While the injury bug continues to fluster the Nationals attempt at contention in 2019, the Yankees are undeterred by its laundry list of injured players as it reshapes (time and again) their active roster. In storming back late to beat the Rays last night, the Yanks took control of the AL East despite an unfathomable seventeen players spending time on the injured list. The reality is that injuries will continue to be part of their 2019 story, even as players return to the field. Star right fielder Aaron Judge, at least, is resigned to being less than 100 percent for the duration, as “you don’t have time to get all the way there,” says Judge, per Dan Martin and Peter Botte of the New York Post. Though he acknowledges the aches and pains as par for the course during a 162-game major league season, it’s disheartening, if difficult to quantify the impact of Judge’s statement for the Yanks moving forward. Regardless, the towering 27-year-old will don the pinstripes once again as soon as he is ready to play, full healthy or not. The rest of the injured Yanks are doing their best to do the same, so let’s check in on a couple of those updates…
- James Paxton’s ten days on the injured list are just about up, but that doesn’t mean their ace lefty is quite ready to return. Per Martin and Botte, Paxton will throw another bullpen session on Sunday, while the Yankees plan to make do with an opener or bullpen game. Paxton is as critical to the Yankees success as Judge, if not more so, as he was racking up strikeouts by the dozen when he went down with knee inflammation. While he won’t be back on Sunday, his return to the rotation does not appear too far off.
- Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, is on his way to extended Spring Training with the hopes of being ready to make his major league debut sometime in June, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). Gregorius, of course, is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Though they’ll no doubt welcome the gregarious Gregorius with open arms whenever he is ready, the infield trio of Gleyber Torres (117 wRC+), DJ LeMahieu (110 wRC+) and Gio Urshela (142 wRC+) have more than held their own in his absence. Urshela, especially, has exceeded any and all expectation, as the 27-year-old journeyman boasts a .347/.398/.500 slash line through 108 plate appearances. Gregorius would boost the infield’s overall defense, however, as Torres, with five errors on the season, is just one shy of matching the sure-handed Gregorius’ total over 132 games last season. Still, given the upward-trending state of affairs in New York, there’s no reason to rush Gregorius back to the diamond, even if he doesn’t need a full Spring Training to prepare, as Aaron Boone suggests.
- Boone also says that Giancarlo Stanton’s comeback trail could begin with a rehab stint this Sunday. Giancarlo has been out since April 1 with a left biceps strain after playing in just three games to start his sophomore season in New York. Stanton racked a .266/.343/.509 line in his first season in pinstripes with 38 home runs and an even 100 RBIs. Though his production took a step down from his MVP season in Florida the year prior, Stanton remains the co-face of the Yankees’ two towers offense, and his return will only deepen an already-productive lineup. It’s been a revolving door of injured sluggers following Stanton in the DH slot, with Kendrys Morales the latest to man the spot ashe slugged his first home run as a Yankee in last night’s win.