TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees appeared to dodge a bullet on Saturday as centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury did not suffer a broken right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Braves at Steinbrenner Field.
An X-ray and CT scan taken after the game were negative, the Yankees announced. Ellsbury is day-to-day. Opening Day is April 4 against the Astros.
Ellsbury was hit by a 90-mph fastball from Braves righthander Julio Teheran. He immediately doubled over in pain, shook his hand and headed to the dugout. He was removed for a pinch runner and left the stadium for tests.
“He was in pain,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I mean, he had seam marks on his wrist. It doesn’t help when doctors push on it.”
At the moment Ellsbury was struck, Girardi was doing an interview with YES in which he talked about the importance of keeping Ellsbury healthy.
“You don’t want to see it,” Girardi said. “I remember seeing it with [Curtis] Granderson a couple years ago. It scares you. So keep your fingers crossed he’s OK.”
Keeping Ellsbury on the field is a big part of the Yankees’ 2016 plans. He played in 111 games last season and hit a disappointing .257 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs.
Ellsbury was benched for the wild-card playoff game against Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel — the same opponent and pitcher the Yankees will face in the season opener.
The Yankees already are nursing leftfielder Brett Gardner back from a bone bruise in his left wrist. Gardner made his exhibition debut on Wednesday and is playing every other day for now.
Girardi said Aaron Hicks will man centerfield if Ellsbury is out for any length of time. Girardi would prefer not to move Gardner back and forth between center and left.
“That’s the luxury of Hicksy,” Girardi said. “We can put him anywhere.”
Ellsbury, who made a diving catch in deep center in the first inning, went 0-for-2 and is batting .261. Even before he was hit by the pitch, he was not scheduled to play until Tuesday at the earliest. Girardi gave most of the veteran players Sunday off and the entire squad is off on Monday.
CC to pen?
General manager Brian Cashman addressed the skepticism in some corners that the Yankees actually will stick CC Sabathia (7.36 ERA) and his $25-million salary in the bullpen if Ivan Nova (2.00 ERA) continues to pitch better in the battle for the fifth-starter spot.
Nova will make his fourth start on Sunday against the Twins in Fort Myers.
“It’s a pure competition,” Cashman said on YES. “Whoever’s going to be the best and wins it, they’re going to declare it themselves. We’ll gravitate to that. We’re true to our word. It’s going to be whoever gives us the best chance to win every five days.”
In the same interview, Cashman said Austin Romine is ahead of Gary Sanchez for the backup catcher position and said he was pleasantly surprised with how Rob Refsnyder has looked in his first action at third base.
Rivera, Goose show up
Mariano Rivera paid his first visit of spring training. Goose Gossage returned to the clubhouse after keeping a low profile for a few days after a pair of controversial interviews about the state of baseball.