Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Yankees watches his fourth inning RBI...

Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Yankees watches his fourth inning RBI double against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Friday, May 17, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Between Opening Day 2023 and this time last year, the Yankees had placed 16 different players on the injured list. They were guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Rodon and Aaron Judge – key losses that shaped the tenor of an ultimately disappointing season and would, in turn, cast doubt on the direction the franchise was heading in.

By Wednesday afternoon, that number was down to nine since Opening Day 2024 – and only eight if you don’t count Ian Hamilton, who was on the COVID IL.

You could say the Yankees have simply gotten lucky, and that this luck has keyed their scorching hot start to the season, but owner Hal Steinbrenner believes differently. This, he said at the owners’ meetings at MLB’s midtown headquarters, is by design.

“It really is about health,” he said. “Our injuries have been below average this year as opposed to way above average, which we’ve had at least two of the last five years. It makes a difference. We did a lot in the clubhouse: a lot of new technology, red light therapy, infrared saunas, hyperbaric chambers – stuff that’s over my head. But these players, they really, really like it. Maybe in some way, shape or form, all that new technology is helping the injury situation.”

Or, to put it simply: "It’s said the best ability is availability and that’s very much true," Aaron Boone said. "You’ve gotta have your dudes if you’re going to be really good."

There’s really no telling how much the new technology has helped, but with Tommy Kahle activated from the injured list Wednesday, and DJ LeMahieu and Gerrit Cole making significant strides in their return, there’s no doubt the team is in a way better place than it was last season. And that doesn’t even take into account guys like Stanton – oft-injured, but not this year (let’s not discount the fact that he came into the season 27 pounds lighter, though, leading to less stress on his lower body).

“I love it,” Stanton told Newsday. "The new additions have been incredible. The game is about recovery…I’ve used everything.”

Earlier in his career, “there wasn’t a big emphasis on recovery and also the [mental aspect] – calming the mind," he said. "There wasn’t as much personal focus but in terms of the team understanding and the importance of it all, it’s evolved.”

Boone, who's used some of the new devices himself, said he couldn’t quantify the impact, but “I think it’s helped…”

“I do think it’s made a difference in just our players’ recovery – the ability to recover better and go out there each and every day,” he said. “I do feel like it’s definitely moved the needle. Do I know how much for sure? No. But that’s my sense. We’re only 50 [games] into this, but no question, it’s been an issue for us at times over the last few years. I think we’re continuing to get better – not only the things we have at our disposal but how we further understand the human body and the differences that everyone has...So far, it’s gone pretty well.”

Boone added that the staff is more cognizant of possible red flags; given the relative age of some of their superstars, getting to problems early is integral in creating the right environment for sustained success.

“I think we’re in a way better place and on way higher ground, but you’re always trying to get better in that regard because it’s one of the major tools...I think we continue to invest a lot in it, and I think we’ve gotten hopefully better at it.”

With David Lennon

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