From Marc Carig:
Right-hander Sergio Mitre, the scheduled starter, woke up on Sunday with what he described as soreness and stiffness in his left oblique area. It was near the same muscle that he strained last season, an injury that landed him in on the disabled list for about a month.
As a precaution, Mitre told the team’s training staff. Though he felt better this morning, the Yankees chose to scratch him as a precautionary measure.
“Just to be on the safe side,” said Mitre, who didn’t think the injury was serious.
Mitre is one of the four pitchers contending for two open slots in the starting rotation. Girardi said earlier that if there were a regular season game, he’d be more inclined to go with Mitre’s request of making the start. But it’s a risk not worth taking in the spring.
It does not sound like this is a major injury, and if Mitre pitches on Thursday we can dismiss it entirely. However, oblique injuries tend to take a while to heal, and often end up being nagging injuries that require a complete stop to all baseball activity. If Mitre, the presumptive long man out of the bullpen, does miss some time, it would likely cause a number of dominoes to fall.
Firstly, a lot of the intrigue would be taken out of the battle for the last two rotation spots, as the loser from the Freddy Garcia/Ivan Nova/Bartolo Colon battle would likely make the team as the long man in Mitre’s place. In fact, being that Colon has expressed willingness to remain with the club as a reliever, I would not be surprised to see them hand the two starting jobs to Garcia and Nova so as to keep all three happy and with the big club for the start of the season.
Furthermore, simply as a matter of depth, the loss of Mitre would mean that one more injury would open the door for a guy like Mark Prior to make the team. There does not seem to be an opening for Prior at this point, but with injury risks like Bartolo Colon the only thing standing between him and an opportunity to win a Major League roster spot, I would be far from shocked to see him make the Opening Day roster.
One set of dominos that some fans will want to topple over is that of the 3 B’s starting in the majors, as many will see this as an opportunity to have one of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman begin the season with the big club. However, the Yankees have made it clear that all three will begin the season in the minors, and an injury to the long man is the last thing that would change their mind on this issue.
As I said above, this can all be rendered moot if Mitre pitches on Thursday and comes through his outing unscathed. If he does not, his injury may actually make the Yankees’ pitching plans a bit clearer.
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