Folks, you just cannot make this up. Another year, another day, another injury for the Yankees. This time, it’s Giancarlo Stanton, who apparently has a Grade 1 calf strain, according to Aaron Boone. The injury occurred yesterday after defensive drills and he got an MRI today that found the strain. The 30-year-old slugger, who can opt-out after this season, will most likely miss Opening Day due to this injury.
Just last week, in his season preview, Derek noted that health was a key factor for Stanton. He played in more than 300 games across 2017 and 2018, but appeared in only 18 games last season. Hopefully this is just a blip in the radar, but he is obviously starting 2020 off on the wrong foot. The 2019 season is the season that just isn’t going to go away, apparently. The new team is the same as the old team.
Once again, we’ll have more thoughts on this in a bit. Until then, I leave you with this: I hate it!
UPDATE (6:35 pm): *Deep breath.* Okay, so obviously this injury, as far as these things go, isn’t all that bad. It’s just a calf strain and it will only cost Stanton a few weeks of Grapefruit League playing time. It could be much worse, as we saw just yesterday. Still, there is some impact here. Let’s get right into that.
1. It Kinda Just Sucks for Stanton: Am I allowed to feel bad for Giancarlo? Because I really do. I mean, “Ellsbury” is currently trending on Twitter in New York, and it’s not because of any news related to everyone’s favorite pinstriped punching bag. Last year had to be an incredibly disappointing and frustrating for Giancarlo on a personal level. I mean, let’s go through his injuries since the start of the 2019 campaign:
- April ’19: bicep strain
- April ’19: “balky” left shoulder
- May ’19: left calf strain
- June ’19: PCL strain in right knee
- October ’19: right quad strain
And now this. Health is a skill and it is not a skill that Giancarlo has demonstrated recently. Like I said above, he played in over 300 games in 2017 and 18 but has struggled with injuries since. It is very frustrating for us as fans and I don’t think we can process how frustrating it must be for a player. I was hoping – both for his sake and for the team’s – that he would be healthy all season and quiet his loud base of dissenters. Alas, it was not to be. (Yet, at least.)
He’ll likely miss some regular season time, though hopefully not too much. On the bright side, if there’s a “good” time to go down with an injury like this, it’s right now. He should only miss a few weeks of the season, at most.
2. Outfield Depth Chart: This will obviously impact the Yankees’ already-think outfield depth. Here’s how I think things shake out in terms of the depth chart:
- Aaron Judge
- Brett Gardner
- Mike Tauchman
- Clint Frazier
It’s important to remember that Miguel Andújar has also been taking reps in the outfield – he did so today! – so he will factor in here as well. In fact, it may make the most sense for him to rotate in left field and DH in the first few weeks of the season, as there will certainly be reps there for him now.
The injury to Stanton may even be enough to vault Clint Frazier out of the Triple-A quagmire in which he perpetually finds himself. It’s certainly possible. I thought before camp really got going that they’d take four outfielders out of camp with them to Baltimore, and I still do. That leaves room for Frazier, which is good for him. Regrettably, there is yet another Spring Training competition to follow now. I’m getting sick of the injuries already, everyone.
3. New Training Staff: Finally, I think this Stanton injury is the first real test for the new training apparatus. The Yanks brought on Eric Cressey after last year’s frustrating campaign to overhaul this sort of thing and this is the first time they’ll have a chance to do so. Both the Severino and Paxton injuries were preexisting and there wasn’t anything you could do. A muscle strain, though, is very different. Muscle strains where the bane of the Yankees’ existence last year, to the point that it felt like something in the organization was broken.
I’m curious to see how this goes. The injury list last year for Stanton in particular was a source of major frustration for fans and the team. Things kept metastasizing and getting worse in rehab, with one injury following another. It’s why fans are so overwhelmingly pessimistic about Stanton now. In a vacuum, this injury isn’t that big of a deal, but life doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It is only fair to be skeptical and worried at this point, especially given recent history.
Cressey was presumably brought on to stop all of that from happening again. He has a test case now and hopefully they can put this all to bed. I’m sick of it and I’m sick of the “[two weeks from now] Yankees announce Giancarlo’s leg has been amputated” jokes we see on Twitter. So let’s all hope that Giancarlo has a nice, easy and smooth rehab. And that Aaron Judge’s shoulder injury really is just a minor issue. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself. The trauma is real.)