David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
The Yankees are going through platelet-rich plasma as if it's Gatorade. Mark Teixeira became the latest to sign on for the blood-spinning therapy yesterday with the announcement of his strained back muscle.
Teixeira talked in vague terms about his return, and the team is holding off on the DL for now. But with another Yankee on the shelf for an indefinite period, that got us wondering just how many injuries is too many.
Then again, maybe that was a better question for the team at the other end of the hallway. The only resemblance these Rangers had to the AL West power we're used to seeing was the blue-and-red uniforms.
If you think it's easy to do what the Yankees are doing -- staying competitive with a decimated starting rotation and remaining on the heels of the AL East-leading Orioles -- ask Rangers manager Ron Washington how he's enjoying life in Arlington these days.
The Texas roster has been wiped out, with 21 players spending time on the DL this season -- tops in the majors. No Prince Fielder, no Jurickson Profar, no Mitch Moreland, no Matt Harrison, no Derek Holland.
Monday night, the Rangers didn't have Alex Rios -- out with a sprained ankle -- and started rookie Miles Mikolas (10.05 ERA). Yet somehow they beat the Yankees, 4-2, to become the final team to reach 40 wins this season. It was only the third victory this month for Texas, a $130-million would-be contender that turned into a ghost ship after stacking players on the DL.
"When you start losing your difference-makers, it's too much," Washington said. "But once again, it opens up the door for somebody else to show they can play in the big leagues. And right now, the Texas Rangers are giving a lot of opportunities."
That's how you wind up with Jim Adduci in leftfield, Jake Smolinski at DH and converted catcher J.P. Arencibia -- fresh up from Triple-A -- at first base, as the Rangers did Monday night.
The Yankees also went sub city with Kelly Johnson manning first for Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate to give Brian McCann a breather. Zelous Wheeler took over at third.
On the mound was rookie Shane Greene, who was promoted after Chase Whitley, a converted relief pitcher. But as Brian Cashman trolls the trade market, the Yankees must rely on Greene, Whitley and David Phelps. We'll consider Hiroki Kuroda and Brandon McCarthy as the 1-2 of the rotation. The other three? That's opportunity knocking.
"You just have to have the attitude that -- no matter what happens -- we're going to press on," Joe Girardi said. "We're out there to win games. We're not going to make excuses."
The Rangers have used 51 players, 30 pitchers and 15 rookies this season -- the most of any team in all three categories. But the Yankees aren't far behind with 44 players, 26 pitchers and 13 rookies. When Greene took the mound yesterday, it was the 46th time a rookie starter has done so for the Yankees -- double that of the next-highest team, the Mariners (23). They are 28-18 in those games, also a good indication of how they've managed to stay in the playoff hunt.
"You weren't expecting it," Girardi said, "but it happens."
The Yankees spent more than $200 million for this season on a top-heavy roster that figured to be vulnerable to a few key injuries. But they haven't caved. Now we'll see how much Teixeira's loss hurts.
Monday night, the Yankees had as many errors as hits -- five -- and scored only two runs.
"That's life," Teixeira said. "You've got to grind through things."
Until you can't anymore.