NEW YORK — This week has been a rough one for the New York Yankees but the past two days have been especially newsworthy as the team announced injuries to two major players.
On Thursday, the Yankees revealed that their latest big-time free-agency acquisition Carlos Rodón will start the season on the injured list with a forearm muscle strain in his left arm. This injury is the third to the Yankees’ starting rotation this spring.
Nestor Cortes is working his way back from a strained hamstring, Frankie Montas, who had surgery, will be out at least the first half of the season with a shoulder injury and now Rodón will be missing from the Opening Day roster with a return tentatively expected for mid-late April.
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Host Stacey Gotsulias of the Locked On Yankees podcast discussed the injury on Friday’s episode of the show saying, “All spring we were worried about who would replace Montas in the rotation and now we have to find someone to replace Rodón.”
It seems the two players who were vying for Montas’ place in the rotation, right-handers Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt, will likely be the fourth and fifth starters—barring any further injuries.
The rest of the rotation should be Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, and Luis Severino. The order is yet to be determined but if those three are healthy by Opening Day, they will be the front three in the Yankees rotation.
Rodón has dealt with this same injury already having pitched through it with the Giants last May. The Yankees are playing it safe and shutting Rodon down for the next week or so.
The injury is to his brachioradialis which is a superficial muscle that flexes the forearm at the elbow. The injury is not connected to his ulnar collateral ligament which is the one usually associated with Tommy John surgery.
So while an injury to the likely number two starter in the rotation isn’t an ideal situation for the Yankees, it looks like it’s not major and with some rest, Rodon should be back before May.
And then to add insult to injury (pun intended), the Yankees also announced on Thursday that Harrison Bader tweaked his left oblique on a swing during their game on Wednesday with the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Friday, it was revealed that it’s possible Bader could miss Opening Day as well. Even a mild oblique strain can keep someone out for a few weeks— Rays starter Tyler Glasnow is out 6-8 weeks with an oblique injury— and with the start of the season on March 30, it’s more than likely the Yankees will have to look to someone else to man centerfield.
Bader, who was acquired at the 2022 trade deadline, came over to the Yankees injured with plantar fasciitis. He rehabbed that injury, was put into the lineup in time for the playoffs, and put on a show for Yankee fans as he was one of the only players in the Yankees lineup to provide offense during their abbreviated playoff run that ended after a sweep by the Astros in the American League Championship Series.
Steve Granado of Locked On Yankees, went through a list of players who could possibly step in for Bader to start the season including Estevan Florial and Rafael Ortega and it looks like the Yankees were looking at the same players. Florial, who was once a top Yankees prospect is out of options so if he doesn’t make the 40-man roster, he’d be put on waivers and could possibly be lost to another team.
Now, with Bader’s injury, it’s possible Florial could start the season with the Yankees as their fourth outfielder. And because of his status, he could get the green light over Ortega.
Other options include the Yankees shifting Aaron Judge over into centerfield, which is what they did last season, but as General Manager Brian Cashman said this week, “The reason they acquired Bader was so they wouldn’t have to put Judge into centerfield.”
Super utility player Oswaldo Cabrera, who the Yankees have plugged at nearly every position, save for catcher and pitcher, voiced his desire to play centerfield and the Yankees played him out there earlier this week so he’s another option while Bader is out.
The Yankees won’t have a definite timetable for Bader’s injury until this weekend but for now, it’s safe to assume he’ll also be out at least until after the regular season begins.