Rachel Balkovec.

Rachel Balkovec. Credit: New York Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. – It could have been far worse.

Rachel Balkovec, who made history in January when the Yankees named her as the manager of the Tampa Tarpons – their Class A affiliate – was struck in the face during batting practice Tuesday at the club’s minor-league complex here, the team announced Wednesday.

Doctors have recommended Balkovec rest for 5-7 days, meaning she won’t be able to manage the Tarpons Thursday when they start their spring exhibition season.

“All things considered, I feel very fortunate,” Balkovec said in a statement released by the team late Wednesday afternoon. “The doctors have asked me to be smart about limiting my activities over the next several days, and I plan on following their guidance. As much as I already miss being around the players and staff, I do not anticipate this affecting my role and responsibilities for the regular season.”

Balkovec, who became the first full-time female manager in the history of affiliated baseball at the minor or major-league level Jan. 11 (when the Yankees named her to the post with the Tarpons) did not suffer a concussion though she experienced “quite a bit of swelling,” a team spokesman said. The Tarpons open their regular season April 7 at Lakeland.

Deivi’s debut

Deivi Garcia, at one time considered among the top pitching prospects in the game but who went through a brutal 2021, allowed one hit and struck out one over two scoreless innings in his first start of the spring Wednesday night against the Orioles.

The 22-year-old Garcia started just two big-league games last season, posting a 6.48 ERA. After the second one, May 29 in Detroit when the 5-9 righty allowed five runs (four earned) and five hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 6-1 loss, he was not strongly considered for a promotion again. That was mostly because he immediately struggled in the minors, going 3-7 with a 6.85 ERA. Garcia, a stellar fastball-curveball pitcher during much of his climb through the minors, has had difficulty with the slider the Yankees have had him incorporate into his repertoire.

Extra bases

Boone said Gerrit Cole, who threw a simulated game Tuesday, is expected to make his spring debut Sunday at home against the Pirates … Righty Clarke Schmidt, a one-time top pitching prospect whose 2021 was all but derailed by the right elbow strain he suffered early in spring training, is scheduled to make his 2022 spring debut Thursday in Lakeland against the Tigers, but severe weather is in the forecast and there’s better than decent chance the game gets canceled.

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