UPDATE: It's hamstring tightness for Donaldson, as suspected, and he'll be reevaluated on Thursday.
Say what you will about third baseman Josh Donaldson -- and we've said it all -- but one of the most maligned Yankees of 2022 was at least trying something different to begin 2023, remaking his leg kick and working on the coil of his swing.
Unfortunately, that progress might've come to a halt on a chilly, wet Wednesday at the Stadium.
While jogging after popping a ball up into the right-center field gap, Donaldson pulled up lame en route to first base, and was replaced by Isiah Kiner-Falefa at third base to begin the defensive half of the third innings.
Though Donaldson remains an overpaid sticking point in the lineup, his defensive panache has been a valued contribution both this year and in 2023. Kiner-Falefa, hopefully, won't be the long-term replacement at third (an infield of DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Volpe and Gleyber Torres regularly would make sense). It should be said, though, that Kiner-Falefa was named the American League's Gold Glove winner at third base in 2020 over Gio Urshela, and we've often wondered what he'd have looked like there rather than crammed into the shortstop hole last season.
Donaldson, through five plus games, was hitting .133 with a solo homer in 15 at-bats.
Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson exits Wednesday's game early with injury issue
The Yankees certainly do have an infield logjam with or without Donaldson, and Torres' early-season hot streak has made him a more essential part of the lineup. Still, you would always rather changes be merit-based rather than depth-sucking necessities.
If Donaldson needs to be off his feet a while, this could open up opportunities in the outfield for Franchy Cordero and/or (gulp) Aaron Hicks, at least until fan favorite Harrison Bader is able to return to action (think end of April). Giancarlo Stanton could be something close to a perma-DH, too, especially if the weather worsens.
Donaldson isn't the most popular Yankee on the field, but be careful what you wish for. In hideous, early-season conditions, anyone could be next if they're not properly stretched.