Don’t act so surprised by this news, but someone on the Yankees is hurt and will most likely be headed for the disabled list. But don’t get nervous, Ellsbury is recovering and McCann, Beltran, Tanaka, Jeter, and Teixeira are all healthy. It’s Brendan Ryan, the Yankees’ backup infielder, whose recent MRI revealed a pinched nerve in his back. Ryan is more than likely headed to the DL and is not expected to be on the Opening Day roster. Let’s not get too down here. Ryan is a superb fielder, but really has no bat and his injury may work in the Yankees’ favor. With a new roster spot likely opening, Joe Girardi is not without options and his job may have just gotten easier. If Derek Jeter is going to be taking some days off, I’m sure that most people would like his fill in to have some hitting ability. So with Ryan incapacitated, who will take over?
Yangervis Solarte: It’s not a name you’ve likely heard of and pronouncing it may be out of the question, but now that Ryan is out, Solarte may make the roster. Solarte is a career minor leaguer from Venezuela and he’s made his presence known in spring training this year. In 18 games, he’s hit for a .455 batting average with 2 home runs and 8 RBI. Girardi has spoken highly of the 26-year-old and until now, it seemed like he would be destined for the minors once again. Now that may not be the case and Solarte may finally reach the big leagues. A switch-hitter, Solarte could add more versatility than the original backup combo of Eduardo Nunez and Ryan who are both right-handed. The non-roster invitee is capable of playing most infield positions as well as the corner outfield spots. A young and capable utility man could be just what the Yankees are looking for.
Dean Anna: Before the talented free agents and big money bank rolls were acquired this winter, there was Dean Anna who came to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres just days before the Yankees bought their first star in Brian McCann. Anna was the Triple-A Player of the Year in 2013, but has never been given the chance on a Major League club. This spring, the 27-year-old left-handed hitter has batted .258 with 3 RBI and a stolen base in 17 games. While Anna hasn’t displayed the same type of hitting prowess as Solarte, his defense is very good and that could be his ticket to “The Show.”
Scott Sizemore: Coming off of two straight lost seasons due to ACL problems, Scott Sizemore is looking to make up for lost time. The infielder was slated to be the starting three baseman for the Oakland A’s in 2013, but after he was injured, Josh Donaldson, went on to have a terrific season. The Yankees grabbed Sizemore on a minor league deal and invited him to compete for the back-up role in spring training. Sizemore has had a very underwhelming spring, as he has hit to the tune of a .25o batting average with no home runs and one RBI over 7 games. Sizemore could be a long shot, but his major league experience could get him the nod for the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.
Zelous Wheeler: Zelous Wheeler has been on a long journey in an attempt to reach the big leagues. Ryan’s injury and Wheeler’s spring training may do just that. The 27-year-old non-roster invitee has hit .344 with 6 RBI and no home runs. He’s been very impressive and let’s face it… very entertaining. Wheeler can play both infield and outfield but is not a fantastic fielder. However, he’s eager and ready to prove that he belongs in the Major Leagues.
Look, Brendan Ryan’s injury is a tough situation. I always looked at Ryan as a player I liked but wanted to love. While I and other fans alike are wowed by Ryan’s defensive ability, it’s hard to root for a .200 batting average. As we all know a back injury can be very strange and mysterious. They come and go without warning and it is a very rough situation to deal with. Now is Ryan’s injury going to turn into a Wally Pip- Lou Gehrig story? It be wonderful, but let’s not get our hopes up for such rare occurrences. I hate to admit this because I am a Brendan Ryan fan, but his injury could be beneficial for the Yankees who are, for once, not without options.