Remember last year, when so many Mets players went on the DL early in the season, and the bodies kept on piling up? The talented Jose Reyes, their shortstop and leadoff hitter, was out all year. I felt sorry for them, and for their fans, including my son, who suffers so much agony from their erratic playing. This time they sank through no fault of their own. (Their loss to the Yankees yesterday was, however, their own doing!)
I mention this as an intro to express my devastation over what’s happening to the Yankees. They started the season with bats blazing, tearing through one winning series after another. Pundits, statisticians and talking heads were all of the opinion that it could never last, that too many of the players are inching towards a doddering old age and would soon lose momentum. Well, they are losing momentum – but it isn’t because of their age. One by one, ordinary injuries have put them on the DL or the bench. As each injury compromises another aspect of play, the other guys step in to pick up the slack – and they’re not doing a bad job of it. Still, how long can they keep it up? And are there more injuries coming down the ‘pike?
The biggest catastrophe came last week, when catcher Jorge Posada’s foot was hit by Minnesota Twins’ Michael Cuddyer. Up until then Posada was having a terrific season, batting .326 with six homers and 14 RBIs, eight doubles, and a .406 on-base percentage. If Minnesota had purposely tried to get rid of him, they couldn’t have planned it better (not saying they did, just saying it does work in their favor). Posada’s foot has a fracture, and it’s expected to keep him out of action for three or four weeks.
Jorge’s just the latest fly to drop. Curtis Granderson went down a few weeks ago with groin strain; hopefully he’ll be back by the end of May. DH Nick Johnson just had wrist surgery, which will put him out of commission until August, and pitching reliever Alfredo Aceves is on the DL with lower back strain. Chan Ho Park, who recently rejoined the team, missed 30 games with a hamstring strain. Outfielder Nick Swisher has been out four games and counting, due to a sore left bicep. Last Wednesday, outfielder Marcus Thames sprained his left ankle, and while he hasn’t been placed on the DL, he hasn’t come back to the game yet either. None of these injuries are the kind that only affect older athletes, and none of these guys, except for Posada and Chan Ho Park, could be remotely considered on the old side of ball playing.
But of course, it doesn’t matter why, it only matters what and how long, and if it keeps up it could derail the team. I’m hoping the healthy guys continue to pick up the slack and keep things going. If anyone can manage that, it’s the New York Yankees.