TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees think they have plenty of organizational depth when it comes to third base, but their preference isn’t to test that belief too early in the season.
And so they were able to breathe a sigh of relief when third baseman Brandon Drury, who felt that same relief, appeared to avoid serious injury as spring training came to a close.
“I was excited to get that news,” Drury said Saturday morning, referring to the X-rays of his left elbow that came back negative a day earlier. “I couldn’t squeeze my hand at the time, it was just numb, so I needed to come in and get some ice on it.”
Drury, acquired earlier in spring training in a three-team trade, left Friday’s game against the Red Sox shortly after getting hit on the elbow by Boston lefthander Brian Johnson. Drury said Saturday morning that he initially was concerned.
“I’ve been hit there before, so I’ve had that feeling of not being able to squeeze, and I was OK, so I had that hope I was going to be good,” he said. “But any time you can’t squeeze your hand or have that feeling [numbness], it’s not good. But it’s better now.”
Drury, given Saturday off to rest the elbow, said he will resume baseball activities Sunday.
“I think I could do everything right now — actually, I know I could do everything — but we’re going to rest it today and tomorrow I’ll be back,” he said.
Referring to the season opener Thursday in Toronto, he said he is 100 percent certain he will be in the lineup. “I’ll be ready for sure,” he said.
Drury won’t travel to Port Charlotte on Sunday for the Yankees’ final Grapefruit League game of spring training but is expected in the lineup for Monday night’s exhibition game in Atlanta. When he takes the field for that game, he’ll be wearing protection for the elbow.
“I’m going to wear an elbow guard now just to be safe,” said Drury, who has a .239/.340/.413 slash line in 17 games. “I don’t really like the feel of it, but it’s better than getting hit on the elbow.”
Drury already had been wearing a batting helmet that features a face guard, similar to the one Giancarlo Stanton began using after he returned from the injuries caused in September 2014 when the Brewers’ Mike Fiers hit him in the face with a pitch. Drury said getting “grazed” in the face by a pitch while in the minors was the worst experience he’s had, but he didn’t want to chance it.
“The way guys throw these days, 98 [mph], up in the zone all of the time, thought I’d be safe and cover my face up,” he said. “I’d seen these face guards that they make, so I just thought that would be smart.”