Yankees Biggest Worry with Jacoby Ellsbury and his New Injury
With less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, Jacoby Ellsbury still isn’t quite ready to return to the Yankees’ Grapefruit lineup. His presence in front of fellow outfielder Brett Gardner will be paramount for the chemistry behind the speedy 1-2 punch that Joe Girardi plans to deploy throughout 2016.
Ellsbury and Gardner have comparable playing styles, but after getting drilled in the wrist last Saturday will the center fielder also share an unfortunately similar experience to Gardner’s own wrist injury a year ago?
The circumstances are a match and the worry is plausible. Granted, I’m sure you could hear the collective sigh of relief within the organization when Ellsbury’s X-ray and CT scan both came back negative. Up to this point Girardi has described the extent of the wrist’s condition as “just sore,” and has floated an iffy Thursday to the media for a possible date that fans can again see their team’s fragile $153 million investment.
Seriously, look up Ellsbury’s injury history. It makes for a good read.
But that isn’t to discredit his talent. It’s evident that (when healthy) Ellsbury is perhaps the Yankees’ most dynamic regular. He plays the game at 100% effort for every inning, and that’s a tough thing to do over the long run. Besides, being beaned by a Julio Teheran fastball is a circumstance that was largely out of Ellsbury’s control. So far the Bombers’ lead-off man has reported to camp and done exactly what he’s needed to do.
The real worry lies with not knowing if his performance will be hampered for an indefinite duration. It’s all speculative, but last year the fan base saw how quickly an uncomfortable wrist could transform an All-Star into a replacement level player. Brett Gardner’s second-half splits are a testament to that. And although the 2016 roster is in better shape to handle that magnitude of a blow, thanks in part to the addition of Aaron Hicks, the Yankees still can’t afford for Ellsbury to spend time on the DL or be ineffective on a daily basis.
He’s a catalyst and a table-setter that gives opportunities for the heavy hitters to send those beloved multi-run homers into the stands. His speed and athleticism make him both an exciting at-bat and a solid, rangy defender when gliding through center field.
Sure, the Yankees now have Hicks and a grocery list of other left-handed hitting outfielders stashed in the minors, but they only have one expensive Jacoby Ellsbury. His physical condition is going to play a large part in the team’s chase for its 28th World Series title this season.
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Here’s hoping that he can stay healthy and wreak havoc on the bases.