The revelation that Mark Teixeira was kept out of Tuesday’s game because of persistent neck spasms had to be considered good news for the Yankees. Better for a nagging injury to be responsible for Teixeira hitting .202 than the alternative, as in maybe him beginning some sort of decline.
“My guess is it will be a day or two,” Joe Girardi said.
But too often, with this group, it tends to be more, and the Yankees can’t expect to stay afloat for very long with major components of their team setting up residence in the trainer’s room.
Alex Rodriguez already is on the disabled list for an indefinite period with a hamstring strain. Jacoby Ellsbury is hoping to avoid the DL with his hip issue, but hasn’t played since suffering the injury Friday. And now Teixeira, who has displayed a tendency for prolonged maladies, is nicked up.
With this growing list of “walking wounded” — as Girardi referred to them before Tuesday’s 10-7 win over the Royals — it seemed like the perfect time for us to lobby for Aaron Judge, the 24-year-old slugger currently punishing the ball at Triple-A Scranton. Judge has five homers in his last 10 games and conveniently plays rightfield, where another call-up, Ben Gamel, started Tuesday night against the Royals.
Judge also hits righthanded, an area of need for the Yankees that is going to become more glaring once the Royals leave town. The White Sox are the next team to visit the Bronx and are likely to feature three lefties — Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rondon, respectively — for the weekend series.
As long as A-Rod remains on the shelf, that leaves an opening at DH for Beltran, the Yankees’ most dangerous hitter, and gives them flexibility to possibly use Judge in right, especially if Ellsbury is still hurting. The Yankees also would get the added bonus of a free look at Judge, who might bring some of the youthful energy Greg Bird did a year ago.
That’s the dream scenario, anyway. The reality? It appears the Yankees prefer to wait on Judge, and are more willing to go with Rob Refsnyder for a righthanded bat should they decide to add one in the coming days. After a chilly start, Refsnyder has rebounded by hitting .375 (15-for-40) over his last 10 games at Scranton while rotating between second base, third and rightfield.
If the Yankees believed Refsnyder could be merely an adequate glove at third base, he’d probably be threatening to take a bite out of Chase Headley’s playing time. Headley delivered his first RBI since April 7 with Tuesday’s second-inning single, but has yet to record an extra-base hit in 97 plate appearances. That’s a remarkable feat, particularly for his position.
So Judge, in the Yankees’ view, isn’t the immediate answer as the Yankees slog through these games with Gamel, Dustin Ackley and Ronald Torreyes plugging the holes. They like him doing what he’s doing at Scranton.
“We’re happy with his progress,” Brian Cashman said Tuesday in a text. “We’ll call him up if he is determined to be the best option. That is not the case at the moment.”
Removing A-Rod, Ellsbury and Teixiera from the equation, for however long that turns out to be, subtracts a big chunk of offense the Yankees can’t instantly replace. It was easily glossed over Monday with their five-homer assault, including a pair from Carlos Beltran, but Chris Young was serving up 83-mph beach balls, so that really shouldn’t count.
The Royals haven’t done much right in defense of their World Series crown, and the rotation has been the worst part. They’re helping the Yankees by using four righthanded starters in this series, but that won’t continue when the AL Central-leading White Sox (23-10) roll into town. Sale (1.79 ERA) and Quintana (1.38) will be a lethal combination from the left side, which has been Kryptonite to the Yankees.
Their only strategy, for now, is to wish Teixeira and Ellsbury a speedy recovery.