The Yankees couldn’t possibly let spring training end without an unexpected surgery, now could we?
It’s simply not the Yankee Way.
After beat writer Bryan Hoch rightly noted on Saturday morning that Luke Voit had been held out for two consecutive games, the hammers came in quick succession. First, Jay Bruce made the opening day roster, setting off serious alarm bells. Then, Aaron Boone quickly clarified he was the everyday first baseman, and Voit was about to take three weeks off from baseball activities after a surgical cleanup.
Not the maximum harm, but certainly some foul. We’ll see him well before June, supposedly.
It’s not an exaggeration to say Voit’s absence changed the roster calculation 100% in the final hours before everything became official. Bruce had opted out, and would’ve left the team the very next day if New York hadn’t made this emergency alteration.
He’s not the only one who earned either a second life — or extra pressure, or a role shift — with Voit’s impending absence looming over this roster.
Is the Yankees offense still great? Of course! Get your finger off the panic button, though it’s fair to be annoyed, saddened and dismayed.
These three players will have a much larger role in the season’s first sprint, and though it may sometimes be for the worse, it won’t torpedo the campaign.
3. Jay Bruce
We’ll start with the Captain Obvious portion of this piece. Bruce’s future went from entirely uncertain to an assured starting gig in a bizarre, isolated 24-hour window. Enormous change!
Instead of reckoning with hitting the market during yet another COVID season, Bruce will instead slot in sixth or seventh in the Opening Day lineup, and will look to pepper the short porch as many times as possible prior to May 15. That’s his stated goal now.
Could things be worse? Of course! This decade, the Yankees relied upon both Lyle Overbay and Chris Carter to start at first base. Bruce is a low-.200s reclamation project who shouldn’t be counted on to show off his 2017 vintage, and he will be a step back, but he’s a professional leader who many fans were worried about losing for nothing a day ago.
Now, there’s a very good reason for his presence. The team could certainly be in more dire straits.
We won’t pretend like Bruce isn’t a step back, though, and a relatively large sample size of numbers bears that out.
For better or worse, the Yankees do finally have a bit more of that precious lefty balance in the lineup, something fans hilariously begged for all offseason long only to watch it arrive on the verge of Opening Day in a monkey’s paw scenario.
All eyes are now on Bruce, but thanks to the Yanks’ padded lineup, there still won’t be much pressure on him.