The Yankees got another 1-2 punch of bad injury news on Friday. Catcher Gary Sanchez was placed on the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed a left calf strain and All-Star reliever Dellin Betances will be on the IL even longer than had been expected.
General manager Brian Cashman announced during a rain delay in Friday's Yankees-White Sox game that Betances, who already was on the IL, has a preexisting bone spur in his shoulder that requires a cortisone shot. He will be shut down for three weeks and could be back for the Yankees in six or seven weeks if the shot works, which Cashman said is his expectation.
Said Cashman: "It's a killer for a period of time because he's an important part of our operation."
“It’s our reality right now,” manager Aaron Boone said before the Yankees' rain-shortened 9-6 loss to the White Sox after Sanchez became the 12th Yankee to go on the injured list. He hadn't even heard the Betances news at that point.
The Sanchez news was somewhat expected after word broke on Thursday night that catcher Kyle Higashioka was on his way to New York from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Sanchez said he was “surprised” when the MRI taken on Thursday showed what the Yankees called a “slight” strain.
“I was feeling fine,” Sanchez said through a translator. “Once they give you the news that there’s a small strain, you feel frustrated. The way you feel and where we are as a team, you want to play, you want to help out. So that is frustrating. Very frustrating.”
Sanchez, who has six homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.065 OPS in 11 games, said he hopes to return when his 10 days are up.
Sanchez hadn’t been behind the plate since Monday because of what the Yankees called tightness in his legs. He was the designated hitter on Tuesday and had a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday.
The Yankees decided to err on the side of caution and place Sanchez on the injured list instead of having him continue to play through the strain.
“Difficult moves, obviously, with that being a small strain in there,” Boone said. “We talked around, ‘Do we nurse it through several more days with these off days’ and, in the end, taking the long view of it, especially when you’re talking calf, groin, hamstring, these kind of things, when you do have a little bit of a strain in there, it gets pretty easy to injure those things, and then it turns into a four-week, six-week, eight-week-type thing . . . Gary wanted to not go on the IL. He wanted to play through it.”
As far as Betances is concerned, if you wanted him back next week, it's bad news. If you were worried that his season was over, it's good news.
He had been working his way back from a right shoulder impingement that first surfaced in spring training when he displayed decreased velocity. After “not feeling great” (according to Boone) during a simulated outing on Thursday, Betances returned to New York for an MRI.
“Just still not feeling right,” Boone said. “Still not coming out like it needs to. He [and] us thought it was best to get back up here with the doctor.”
Aside from Sanchez and Betances, big names such as Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorius, Troy Tulowitzki and CC Sabathia are on the injured list.
At least the Yankees will get Sabathia back on Saturday when the lefthander is activated to start against the White Sox to begin his final big-league season.
Andujar is making progress from the right shoulder strain that has kept him out since April 1. The third baseman swung the bat for the first time since being injured at what he estimated as “50 percent” effort on Friday and also took ground balls.
The Yankees hope Andujar can return, but the possibility of season-ending surgery still has not been ruled out.
How Friday’s Yankees lineup compares with their Opening Day lineup
1. Brett Gardner CF
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Giancarlo Stanton LF
4. Luke Voit DH
5. Miguel Andujar 3B
6. Gary Sanchez C
7. Greg Bird 1B
8. Gleyber Torres 2B
9. Troy Tulowitzki SS
1. Brett Gardner CF
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Luke Voit DH
4. Gleyber Torres SS
5. Greg Bird 1B
6. DJ LeMahieu 2B
7. Clint Frazier LF
8. Gio Urshela 3B
9. Austin Romine C