WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Didi Gregorius was headed back to Tampa on Monday for tests on an ailing throwing shoulder that knocked him out of the World Baseball Classic.
The Yankees, to be polite, don’t give a darn about how Gregorius’ absence would affect the underdog Netherlands in the WBC. They were much, much more concerned about whether they will have their shortstop on Opening Day at Tampa Bay on April 2. At the moment, they don’t know.
“Because we haven’t seen him, we don’t know exactly what it means,” Joe Girardi said before the Yankees beat the Nationals, 9-3. “He’s going to have more tests [Tuesday]. It’s obviously not what you want to hear, but hopefully it’s something short.”
The Yankees also threw cold water — for now — on the idea that super-prospect Gleyber Torres will get a chance to “Wally Pipp” Gregorius.
General manager Brian Cashman said if Gregorius has to begin the season on the disabled list, Torres will be behind expected Triple-A shortstop Tyler Wade, plus Ronald Torreyes and Ruben Tejada, in the pecking order. Even though Torres, 20, is having a fabulous spring training, he most likely will start the season with Double-A Trenton.
“That’s stuff you’ve got to leave up to the team,” Torres said through a translator after raising his average to .464 with a two-run double in his only at-bat Monday.
But back to Gregorius. Cashman said he reported feeling “pain” in his shoulder Saturday during the Netherlands’ exhibition against the Diamondbacks.
“They thought it was a lat strain,” Cashman said. “We insisted they get an MRI. They weren’t going to do an MRI, but we said we wanted an MRI, and it showed what Joe said.”
What Joe said is that Gregorius was diagnosed with a “hematoma of the subscapularis.” A hematoma is defined “as a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues.” The subscapularis is a large triangular muscle in the shoulder.
Dr. Paul Cagle is a shoulder surgeon at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai West who is not involved in Gregorius’ treatment.
“This could represent a spectrum of injuries: tendinitis, bursitis or a rotator cuff tear,’’ he said in an email. “Extent will highly influence his ability to return to play. For tendinitis or bursitis, the athlete can often get back within a couple weeks and rehabilitate while participating. If it represents a rotator cuff tear, it will be more significant. If a partial tear, may not require surgery and sometimes can heal on its own. A full tear would likely require surgery and the return to play could be in several months.”
Cashman declined to share his feelings about possibly losing a key player to the WBC. Mark Teixeira hurt his wrist in batting practice at the 2013 WBC and ended up playing 15 games for the Yankees that year.
“I’m not going to even go there,” Cashman said.
Gregorius played in six WBC games and was batting .385 with a home run and eight RBIs for the Netherlands, a surprise semifinalist that played Puerto Rico on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Yankees are flush with shortstop prospects. Torres, who has not played above Class A, has emerged in the public imagination, but Cashman made it clear that in the team’s estimation, Wade is more advanced. Wade, whom the Yankees view as a potential utilityman, has not played above Double-A.
Torreyes started Monday at shortstop and went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Wade entered defensively in left and went 0-for-2 to drop his average to .394.“Tyler Wade has played real ly well and he’s played everywhere,” Girardi said. “It’s probably more of an educated discussion once you know what the severity of [the injury] is. I’ll look at anybody.”
First, he would like to look at Gregorius and be able to pencil him in on Opening Day.
If not . . .
“That’s a big loss,” Girardi said. “We saw the strides he took last year and defensively what he does. That’s a big loss.”