The Yankees made it through spring training in March relatively injury-free, with the exception of backup infielder Brendan Ryan. April and early May, however, were a different story. Mark Teixeira hurt his leg. David Robertson went down with a groin injury. Francisco Cervelli strained a hamstring. Ivan Nova needed Tommy John surgery. Shawn Kelley hurt his back. CC Sabathia hurt his elbow. Michael Pineda strained his lat muscle. Carlos Beltran had bone spurs in his elbow. All of them spent significant time on the DL. In addition, Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter, and Jacoby Ellsbury all were banged up at various points, and while they managed to avoid a stint on the DL, they nonetheless missed games.
One by one, the walking wounded have started to return. They have returned and performed. Teixeira has hit eleven long balls since returning from the DL. Robertson has thirteen saves since his activation. Beltran still can’t play the outfield, or even throw a baseball yet, but has added balance to the lineup and hit two doubles in his first week back. Kelley returned to a dominant Bomber bullpen, and Cervelli is expected back in the dugout for the first game of the series in Oakland tomorrow night.
Next up will be the big pitching duo of Sabathia and Pineda. CC has begun his throwing program, and has been playing catch on flat ground the past few days. He is scheduled to pitch off a mound next week. Pineda has not yet begun his throwing program. However, the Yankees state he is “close” to playing catch. I estimate that Sabathia is probably about 2-3 weeks away. and Pineda will probably be about the All-Star break. The Yankee starting pitching has been treading water without Sabathia, Pineda, and Nova. They have given the Bombers quality innings, just not enough of them. Their failure to work deep into games has created a big burden on the bullpen, which has proven to be up to the task. Still there is concern over burning out a very promising young pen too early in the season.
As far as mid-season acquisitions go, getting a former Cy Young winner in Sabathia and a former All-Star in Pineda would qualify as some of the best pickups possible. The Yankees will get exactly that over the next month. They will allow two of Chase Whitley, David Phelps, and Vidal Nuno to return to the bullpen, bolstering an already commanding corps. A rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Chase Whitley looks like the rotation of a championship contender to me. The Yankees are getting healthy and getting ready to make a run in the second half.
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