TORONTO — Already running low on outfielders, the Yankees lost another one Saturday afternoon. And maybe a relief pitcher, too.
In short, the day, which ended with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, was a mess.
Rookie leftfielder Billy Mc Kinney, called up Friday to replace the injured Aaron Hicks, suffered a left shoulder AC sprain when he crashed into the wall trying to chase down a first-inning drive by Josh Donaldson. Injuries in the outfield already had pushed the Yankees to use Aaron Judge in centerfield Saturday, something that may well continue in the coming days.
Rookie third baseman/first baseman Miguel Andujar was called up to replace McKinney.
“Obviously, we ran out of outfielders on our 40-man roster,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We’ll regroup and continue our discussion about what our real options are and how it will look in the next 72 hours.”
And so it was another outfield injury — not Tyler Austin’s two monstrous homers and not even a horrendous eighth inning by Dellin Betances — that commanded news-of-the-day status.
Betances allowed a leadoff homer in the eighth by Yangervis Solarte and then saw Kevin Pillar steal second, third and home as Toronto broke a 3-3 tie. By then, though, the Yankees had lost at least one player and possibly two.
Righthander Adam Warren was knocked from the game in the sixth when he took a comebacker off his right ankle area. Aaron Boone said Warren’s prognosis was not yet known.
McKinney’s is; he’ll join outfielders Hicks (right intercostal muscle strain), Jacoby Ellsbury (right oblique strain) and Clint Frazier (concussion) on the DL along with first baseman Greg Bird (right ankle surgery).
Ellsbury, rehabbing in Tampa, is not eligible to come off the DL until Thursday, and it’s not a certainty that he’ll be ready then.
“We’re not in a position right now to predict he’s going to be ready by Thursday,” Cashman said. “That’s why we’re going to continue to circle the wagons here in the coming days.”
As Cashman said, the Yankees have no more outfielders on their 40-man roster. Among those on the 25-man roster with outfield experience are Tyler Wade, Brandon Drury, Austin and Ronald Torreyes. Boone said Wade and Torreyes are the likeliest of that group to get time in the outfield, with Wade possibly seeing time in center.
The dearth of centerfielders is what prompted Boone to give Judge his first major-league start in center. He wanted to give Brett Gardner a day off, but that lasted less than an inning.
After CC Sabathia (one earned run in five innings) retired Steve Pearce to start the bottom of the first, Donaldson launched a fastball to left-center. McKinney raced back and leaped toward the wall. The left side of his head and his left shoulder appeared to hit the wall, and he crumpled to the ground as Donaldson reached second with a double.
“I thought I had a little more room,” said McKinney, who stayed in for one more batter and then was replaced by Gardner. Judge stayed in center, where he caught the one ball hit to him.
Austin’s two-run homer into the second deck in left tied it at 2 in the fifth and his two-out solo shot into the second deck in the seventh tied it at 3-3.
In the eighth, Solarte drove a fastball from Betances into the second deck in center to make it 4-3. Pillar singled with one out, setting up his mostly unchallenged tour of the bases that made it 5-3. With Pillard at third, Betances didn’t look at him and he broke for home. Betances stepped off the rubber and fired home, but his uncatchable throw went to the backstop. It was that kind of day.
“It’s certainly a challenge to be playing with the injuries that we’ve been receiving in the short term,” Cashman said. “None of them seem to be long-term, but obviously it leaves us with a lot more discussions about how to deploy on a daily basis. So we’ll deal with it and find a way to get through it. That’s what you do.”