TAMPA, Fla. — The injury bug bit Jacoby Ellsbury a bit earlier than usual.
The centerfielder, who entered camp as the Yankees’ fifth outfielder, was scratched from Friday’s lineup with what the Yankees called “tightness” in his right side. After the Yankees beat the Braves, 5-4, on Tyler Austin’s walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning, manager Aaron Boone called Ellsbury’s injury a “mild oblique strain.”
Boone did not give a timetable for Ellsbury’s return, and oblique strains can be notoriously tricky. Aaron Hicks, for example, played in only 88 games last season, spending two different stints on the disabled list because of oblique strains, one on each side.
Boone said Ellsbury “felt something” during batting practice.
“That’s just something we’re not going to mess with,” Boone said. “Hopefully by missing some [time] now, we can save a longer stint at some point later.”
Boone said Clint Frazier, out since Saturday with a concussion, had an MRI Friday. “[On Friday] when we upped his workload, it didn’t go as well as we had hoped,” Boone said. “With the concussion thing, we’re just going to be very careful, very cautious with it.”
The Yankees have big expectations for Greg Bird this season, but they also know this: He played in only 48 games last season because of a foot injury and missed all of 2016 recovering from shoulder surgery. Given that, they signed first baseman- outfielder Adam Lind to a minor-league deal. Lind, 34, has an out clause in his contract if he does not make the big-league roster at the end of camp.
“Clearly there’s insurance in the event there’s injuries that occur, which thankfully they haven’t,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We know obviously he’s a very productive hitter. For us, it’s first-base coverage.”
Lind had a .303/.362/.513 slash line, 14 home runs and 59 RBIs in 116 games last season with the Nationals. In 12 seasons in the majors, he has a .272/.330/.465 slash line, 200 home runs, 723 RBIs and 588 runs.
Lind has made a name for himself as a pinch hitter. In 48 pinch-hit plate appearances last season, he had a .356/.396/.644 slash line with four home runs. In his career, he has a .324/.391/.568 slash line, nine home runs and 35 RBIs in 156 plate appearances as a pinch hitter.
Austin, the primary backup option at first before Lind’s signing, hit a drive over the centerfield wall to move the Yankees to 7-1 in exhibition play. Miguel Andujar had a two-run double and Didi Gregorius (three hits) added an RBI single as the Yankees rallied from an early 4-0 deficit.