Chase Headley received an epidural shot in his back Thursday night that will keep the third baseman out until at least Sunday, Joe Girardi said.
Until then, Girardi said, the club will be “rolling the dice a little bit” and will not make a move to bring up a reserve infielder.
That means Austin Romine, a catcher his entire career who has made three major-league starts at first base, will fill that role for the time being. “He took some ground balls at third [Thursday],” Girardi said.
Ronald Torreyes started at third base Friday night. Girardi said if something happened to second baseman Starlin Castro, he would move Torreyes to second and shift Romine to third. If Didi Gregorius was unavailable, Torreyes would move to shortstop, with Romine going to third.
The club’s rationale in rolling the dice is “we’re trying to keep the pitching,” Girardi said. Yankees starters have not provided a lot of length the last couple of weeks, which has taxed a bullpen that has struggled with the increased workload.
The Yankees sent down utilityman Rob Refsnyder on Thursday and brought up lefthander Tyler Webb, who can provide multiple innings if need be.
And if the bullpen gets further burdened before Sunday?
“It’s kind of day by day,” Girardi said. “Those are the discussions we’ve had last night, today. It’s kind of based on need. We’ll see.”
Headley said he first started feeling an issue with his back during the Yankees’ four-game series in Toronto June 1-4. The spasms started Thursday, which kept him out of that night’s game against the Angels.
“I thought I had it under control, but it kind of locked up on me,” said Headley, who added that he doesn’t believe it’s a disc-related problem. “But I feel much better today.”
Headley is hitting .245/.335/.362 with four homers and 31 RBIs but had performed better of late, with a .333/.464/.452 slash line in his last 13 games.
Even with the epidural — which Headley did not disclose to reporters when talking to them Friday afternoon — he felt he could have played Friday if necessary.
“They want me to take it easy,” Headley said. “I feel I could have [played Friday], but they wanted to give it one more day.”
But, as Girardi said, it will be at least two.
Girardi said Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion), who took on-field batting practice for a third straight day Friday, should be ready to start a rehab assignment “pretty soon.”
Girardi didn’t offer any specifics as to what he’ll do when Ellsbury returns to the lineup. Aaron Hicks has been terrific all season, especially since Ellsbury went to the concussion DL on May 25.
Girardi said whenever Ellsbury is ready, all four of his outfielders — Ellsbury, Hicks, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge — will get plenty of playing time.
“We’re going to keep rotating our outfielders because I think it will benefit all of them,” Girardi said. “Give them all some days off and play them all, see who’s rolling and really playing well and go by that. Obviously, you have to see how Jacoby’s doing, but I think you can spell some guys more often and just keep guys playing, all the time. Maybe they DH one day, that sort of thing, one of the outfielders can DH one day if Matty [Holliday] needs a day . . . There’s a lot of things you can do where they’re all playing.”