TAMPA, Fla. – On the brink of a new season brimming with championship hopes, the New York Yankees still can't escape their injury filled 2019 identity.
Dealing with spring training ailments, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are unlikely to be in the Yankees’ opening day lineup on March 26 at Baltimore.
That’s the opinion of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who spoke about his sluggers’ latest injuries Tuesday morning.
"None of the games count while we’re missing important players, so I’d rather be dealing with it right now,'' Cashman said.
Judge was still having additional medical testing on Tuesday, part of a battery of exams to determine what’s plaguing him.
According to Cashman, the discomfort is now located in Judge’s right pectoral area. The right fielder was originally sidelined due to an achy right shoulder.
“More likely than not, I don’t see him ready by opening day,’’ Cashman said of Judge.
Stanton is in a similar situation, due to a Grade 1 right calf strain.
“I’d say it’s unrealistic personally to have him for opening day,’’ Cashman said of the outfielder/designated hitter who played just 18 regular-season games last year due to various injuries.
Due to the time frame required for healing and rehab, “arguably, with three-and-a-half weeks to go before opening day, I’d think we’d rather be safe than sorry,’’ Cashman said of Stanton’s situation.
“Will he be ready in theory by April, at some point? The answer should be yes.’’
Round 2 for Judge
Judge had two medical exams scheduled for Tuesday, following a series of tests on Monday, all of which have occurred in Florida.
“We’re running him through a car wash of exams,’’ Cashman said. “He’s actually feeling better, but we’re still running him through the tests just to eliminate everything and everything.’’
Once those tests are concluded, there will be a consultation with Judge about the results, and whether more testing is necessary.
“In the meantime, he’s really responding well to the treatment protocols our performance science teams have been running him through,’’ Cashman said. “But we’ll see.’’
The Yankees have not specified what tests had been administered to Judge, adding more intrigue to his mysterious, traveling injury.
As of Tuesday morning, “there’s been nothing that we’ve been able to diagnose as to what ails him,’’ said Cashman, although “they have certainly some theories on it.
“But until they run through everything, they want to be in a good position to make that determination.’’
See you in April
Sidelined since last Wednesday, Stanton might not be ready to join the Yankees until mid-to-late April.
“I’d think we’d rather be safe than sorry,’’ Cashman said of Stanton, who injured his calf while participating in outfield drills on Feb. 25.
Stanton played just 18 regular-season games in 2019 largely due to left biceps, left shoulder and right knee issues. During Game 1 of the AL Championship Series at Houston, Stanton suffered a right quad strain that effectively ended a bitterly disappointing year.
“Will he be ready in theory by April, at some point? The answer should be yes,’’ said Cashman, adding that the slugger’s recover time is safely, at minimum, four-to-six weeks from the time of injury.
“Most of (that time) is the healing part and then getting him game ready,’’ Cashman said. “Some time in April is realistic, if there’s not a setback or anything of that nature.’’
Filling the void
In the short term, the absence of Judge and Stanton means more playing time for Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar.
“We certainly have a number of people who are more than capable,’’ Cashman said. “And hopefully we have all those choices in play by the time we’re putting lineups together.’’
In other words, stay healthy Brett Gardner and company.
To open the season, Frazier could join the lefty-hitting Tauchman as a regular corner outfielder, while Andujar could shuttle between DH and left field – a position he’s learning in camp.
The Yankees GM isn’t wearing out his cell phone seeking replacements via trade.
As for seeking help on the open market, “we have not talked to anybody,’’ said Cashman, who has already lost starter Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) for the season. “It’s pretty early.’’
Lefty starter James Paxton (back surgery) isn’t due to return until around June 1.
However, “I can just tell you we have not reached out to one club looking for anybody,’’ Cashman said. “At this stage, we have not engaged with any team about, ‘What do you have available?’ or ‘What are you trying to do?’ It’s pretty early.’’
And given the Yankees’ feelings about their outfield and pitching depth, “we might very well have all the answers in camp,’’ Cashman said. “Doesn’t’ mean we won’t’’ make a deal, but “we’re still trying to determine what we have and what we don’t have in terms of alternatives.’’
Last year, with center fielder Aaron Hicks set to begin the 2019 season on the injured list, Cashman swung a late spring training trade to import outfielder Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies.
“We like what we see, we’ve got a lot of exciting players that we think can impact us in a positive way,’’ Cashman said of the club’s young talent and overall depth.
As Opening Day draws closer, trade discussions “might start percolating a little bit,’’ Cashman said. “But more likely than not, there is no real market available until after the June (First Year Player) draft.’’