TAMPA, Fla. — At Yankees camp, where MRI tests rival the number of exhibition games played, Giancarlo Stanton's opening day availability is in doubt.
On the heels of Luis Severino's season-ending elbow injury, Stanton developed a strained right calf during outfield drills on Tuesday.
After a 2019 season ruined by various injuries, Stanton will "be down for a little bit,'' Aaron Boone said on Wednesday afternoon.
Now's a good time to find your old "Next Man Up'' T-shirt.
According to the manager, "It's going to be a couple of weeks'' before the slugging outfielder/designated hitter returns to the field.
And that timetable "probably puts us up against it a little bit,'' Boone said of Stanton's likelihood of being ready by the March 26 season opener at Baltimore.
"I would say it’s (enough) time for him to get back,'' Boone said, but it's complicated by "getting him built up'' through a normal spring training. "We'll see.''
Stanton played in just 18 regular season games last year, due to left biceps, left shoulder and right knee issues.
In Game 1 of the 2019 AL Championship Series at Houston, Stanton suffered a right quad strain that effectively ended his season.
Over his nine full MLB seasons, Stanton has played a minimum of 150 games just three times, including his 2017 NL MVP season with Miami and his 2018 debut as a Yankee.
"It’s disappointing because you want to get guys going and you want them built up,'' Boone said. "But it's just a little bump in the road and we're equipped to handle it.''
During Tuesday’s exhibition game against Toronto at Dunedin, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced that Severino was headed for Tommy John surgery.
Around the same time, back at Tampa, Stanton felt calf soreness toward the end of outfield drills.
“I don’t think he thought it was that big of a deal,’’ said Boone, adding that Stanton reported feeling better on Wednesday morning.
Just to be safe, the Yankees sent him for an MRI that showed the strain.
Stanton was not in the clubhouse following the Yankees’ rain-abbreviated, 8-2 exhibition win against the Washington Nationals.
But Wednesday's starting left fielder was at his locker, ready to speak.
"I felt good out there,'' said Miguel Andujar, who caught the only ball hit to him at his new position.
As a roving fourth outfielder, Mike Tauchman was already expected to see plenty of playing time at all three spots before Stanton's injury.
And now, an opening day roster spot could be available for Clint Frazier.
Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) won't return until about midseason, adding to an A-list injured list that includes starter James Paxton (back surgery), due to return by June.
Though the Yankees planned to slow-walk Stanton in the early spring - he'd played just one of the Yankees' first five Grapefruit League games - the slugger had no physical limitations as he entered camp.
"I had a full offseason. I did everything I needed to do,’’ Stanton said before the club's first full-squad workout last week.
Following the IL drama of 2019, the Yankees made sweeping changes to their strength and conditioning methods and personnel this offseason.
Personally, “I had a lot of different training. I didn’t have much time off,’’ Stanton said after injuries limited him to 72 plate appearances in the 2019 regular season.
“I got my rest, but I had to rehab the moment the season was over,’’ Stanton said. “And then, by the time I was done rehabbing, I had my normal offseason training.’’