The Yankees are placing first baseman Anthony Rizzo on the injured list today, with Aaron Boone telling reporters that Rizzo has a “likely” concussion. He says the club has traced this to a collision he had with Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres on May 28, per Deesha Thosar of Fox Sports. Rizzo passed concussion protocol at the time but recently complained of fogginess, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. He will be evaluated week to week while Jake Bauers and DJ LeMahieu handle first base, per Hoch. The club has now made it official, listed Rizzo’s ailment as post-concussion syndrome. Infielder/outfielder Oswaldo Cabrera was recalled in a corresponding move.
It’s an unusual injured list move, as players with concussions or concussion-like symptoms usually find themselves out of action in the immediate aftermath of the event in question. In this instance, the Yankees seem to believe Rizzo is being impacted by something that happened over two months ago. The play in question can be seen in this video, relayed on Twitter by Talkin’ Baseball. The slow motion replay appears to show Tatis, while attempting to get back to first on a pickoff throw from the catcher, make contact with Rizzo’s head via his hip. Rizzo then appears visibly dizzy in the moments after.
Rizzo was removed from that game and sat out the club’s next three contests, but was back in the lineup June 2. He’s hit .172/.271/.225 in 192 plate appearances since that collision, which perhaps lends credence to the idea that he has been affected in some way. Still, it seems strange on the surface that it took over two months to hone in on a diagnosis. Rizzo himself tells Hoch that he was more tired of late but thought it was just due to the typical grind of the season. He added that he would sometimes wake up feeling hungover and forget the number of outs during games. “I didn’t just forget how to do this all of a sudden,” he said, in reference to his declining results. It seems the situation is still evolving, with the club planning to reevaluate Rizzo regularly in the weeks to come in order to navigate a path forward.
Rizzo’s struggles have been just one part of a fairly tepid Yankee offense this year, as they were also without Aaron Judge for almost two months. He was on the IL from early June to late July thanks to a right great toe sprain. Overall, the club is hitting .231/.302/.404 for a wRC+ of 95 this year, with that mark placing them 21st out of the 30 clubs in the majors.
There are lots of moving pieces in the position player mix now, with Judge back but having served as the designated hitter recently. That’s pushed Giancarlo Stanton into the outfield alongside players like Bauers, Harrison Bader, Billy McKinney, Greg Allen and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. LeMahieu and Kiner-Falefa have also been splitting third base with Josh Donaldson on the injured list, but it seems like Bauers and LeMahieu will now be covering first as well. Cabrera should be able to be plugged in wherever needed, as he’s played all four infield positions and the outfield corners.