The first real-ish injury hit the New York Yankees on Saturday night when Joey Gallo left the team’s game against the Kansas City Royals with groin tightness after busting it down the first base line on a weak grounder.
Though Gallo said he’s “feeling good” and the injury isn’t expected to keep him out for long, that always feels like the case with Yankees players who go down with an ailment … especially these larger players with muscle issues/strains.
He might not miss extensive time right off the bat, but at this moment there’s been no official diagnosis (outside of day-to-day) and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to assume it could develop into a nagging problem if Gallo returns prematurely.
It’s all good vibes with the 2022 Yankees so far, so forgive us for thinking worst-case scenario. We’re just over three weeks into the season and have done this injury dance before, which has fans bracing for potential recourse.
So who will take more reps in Gallo’s absence should he hit the IL or need a reduction in reps for the time being? There’s Tim Locastro, who’s been a revelation as a depth player so far, but does the team want to make him an everyday option?
Then there’s Ender Inciarte, who’s having a nice showing at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .296 with an .835 OPS. Only issue there? He’s played just 98 career games in left field, which is where most of the production will need to come from.
And then there’s … Brett Gardner!
What’s the Yankees’ outfield plan if Joey Gallo misses time?
Remember not too long ago when fans were booing Gallo for his awful play on both sides of the ball and Yankee Stadium broke out into a “We Want Gardner!” chant? It happened!
Additionally, Gardner has expressed an interest to finish his career with the Yankees (and that he wanted to continue playing). The Blue Jays reportedly looked at him this offseason, but a deal never came to fruition, which makes some believe an eventual return to the Bombers is on the table in this exact situation. All it’ll take is one injury to open up a spot.
Is Gardner the top choice in this hypothetical scenario? We don’t know. And for those saying “there’s a reason” the Yankees picked up Inciarte … you’re right! It was in the event the team needed more center field reps, in addition to the fact they had leverage to sign him to a minor-league contract due to his fall from grace over the last few seasons.
Gardy isn’t signing a minor-league deal. He’s ready to go at the drop of a hat. And he can effectively play left (1,044 career games) and center (658 career games) while also providing a lefty bat in the lineup.
All we’re saying? Don’t be surprised if there’s a reunion in the event Gallo’s situation worsens or isn’t as light as fans were expecting.