Is Billy McKinney hiding a secret foot injury that ended his magical Yankees run?

Billy McKinney was carrying the Yankees' offense...until he wasn't. And we know why.
Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees
Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Not much has gone right for the 2023 Yankees, and what has gone right has mostly been accidental.

Still, our collective eternal cynicism didn't stop the Billy McKinney Era from being extremely fun. For a few weeks in June, the Yankees were kept afloat almost entirely by McKinney, yet another outfielder who cut Estevan Florial in line for a promotion.

McKinney joined the Yankees on June 7, the day that haze so thick you could feel it covered New York and delayed the team's bummer of a series against the Chicago White Sox. Ironically, the 28-year-old outfielder sliced through the team's collective haze with a bat that did look radically different from his previous stint in the Bronx in 2018. No longer a plug-and-play, bat-absent option, McKinney kept the team competitive and won a few games single-handedly, often providing the only offense during a few dark weeks.

In the month of June, the lefty swinger hit .276 with four home runs and an .869 OPS. Puff pieces were beginning to be written about how the journeyman may finally have found a big-league home after so many years of searching. Hearts were warmed throughout the tri-state area. Then ... because he's not just a savior, but also a Yankee savior, he met the same fate as Matt Carpenter in a reheated storyline from 2022.

Late in the second game of a doubleheader with the Yankees leading in St. Louis on July 1, McKinney knocked a foul ball off his foot and was in immediate visible pain. He finished the game (a rare Yankee win), but was then kept out of the lineup July 2-4. Give the Yankees credit. They didn't hide this one for more than a couple of days. They were at least open about McKinney's discomfort.

Yankees miss Billy McKinney after foot foul ball, which is a crazy reality

Since no dream can last the duration of an entire season in New York these days, it brings me no pleasure to inform you that even after McKinney managed to rejoin the lineup, he was unable to conjure up the production that had defined his June.

In 10 games in July (just 24 plate appearances, just five starts), McKinney has posted a .143 average with a .393 OPS. He's been a ghost more than he's been a ballplayer. He's struck out nine times in 21 at-bats, nearly equaling the 11 whiffs he'd posted in 58 at-bats prior to the injury. He's been a shell of his June 2023 self, but he's also been an accurate representation of his prior self and the man most thought the Yankees were obtaining when they promoted him.

2023's Yankees season won't be reaching a happy ending without the surprise contributions of McKinney, or a few new players who are able to mimic June McKinney. Add in Willie Calhoun's hamstring and Jake Bauers' headlong, shoulder-ripping dive, and it's pretty astounding how this moribund team even manages to choke the life out of its few bright spots with a twist of fate.