By now, it is a Dog Bites Man story. Another Yankees player is lost to injury for an extended period, and what else is new?
Tuesday, the latest Groundhog Day update from general manager Brian Cashman was that 34-year-old infielder Kevin Youkilis will have back surgery on a herniated disc Thursday and be unavailable for 10 to 12 weeks. "At least,'' Cashman said.
Youkilis returned from the disabled list 18 days ago after apparently overcoming back issues, but last Thursday he experienced a setback after an 18-inning loss in Oakland. An MRI revealed "he took a turn for the worse,'' Cashman said.
Nothing out of the ordinary there, either: Alex Rodriguez needed a second hip operation during the offseason, Derek Jeter refractured his ankle, Curtis Granderson suffered two broken bones -- first in his wrist, then his hand -- Mark Teixeira hurt his wrist tendon again, and so on.
"Wrists and backs are nightmares, clearly,'' Cashman said. "And we've getting expertise on labrum repair in hips . I'd never heard of that 10 years ago, and now it's something we're getting educated on too much.''
Meanwhile, Cashman can only "keep an eye on guys we hope we can get back, because those guys can be the saviors for us as we try to propel ourselves into the postseason during the stretch drive.''
As for when that salvation will come, Cashman said, "For me to speculate would probably be irresponsible at this stage. It's like predicting the weather.'' (Rain postponed Tuesday night's's game against the Dodgers.)
Signed as a free agent in December, Youkilis "was the best option'' in Rodriguez's anticipated prolonged absence, Cashman said. "Kevin is a hell of a player when he's healthy. He's a gamer, a guy with power and great discipline. He looked great in the spring. We had high hopes. But he just hasn't been in a position to show what he's capable of doing because of the back.''
The trick for an aging player compromised by back problems, said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly -- speaking from his experience as a Yankees great -- "was finding a routine. Staying sharp and strong enough to stay on the field, but not do too much work that it pushed me backward.''
With Youkilis pushed backward, Cashman confirmed that the Yankees' default position is to continue using rookie David Adams, summoned from Triple-A May 15, at third base. In 21 games, he is hitting .213 with two homers and seven RBIs, virtually the same numbers Youkilis produced in 28 games (.219, 2, 8).
"This creates an opportunity for David Adams to continue to show what he can do and grow into a ballplayer at the major- league level,'' Cashman said. "As of right now, we're going with what we have.
"We'll figure it out the best we can. We've been doing it so far and we'll continue to do so.''