In a development that gave Joe Girardi visions of the 2011 season, Derek Jeter was scratched from today’s lineup with an injured calf. The 38-year-old shortstop missed nearly a month last season with a calf injury, but in the other leg. Though Girardi says he is only being cautious, Jeter is not expected to return to action for several days. With just over two weeks left until Opening Day, Jeter will have time to recover, but a more substantial period of injury could cause problems for the Yankees going forward.
The captain hit nearly .300 last season and while in his current incarnation he is merely a shell of his former shelf this roster can do no better. Eduardo Nunez struggled both offensively and with the glove last season. Ramiro Pena is unlikely to provide the Yankees with a much better option at the position. The long term internal options are in the low minors. If Jeter can’t stay healthy next season a trade may be in order – potentially creating a positional logjam and forcing Derek off the position he has occupied for a decade and a half.
Meanwhile starting catcher Russell Martin was also scratched from the lineup on friday with a groin injury. Right fielder Nick Swisher suffered a similar (but less serious) injury earlier in the week. He will also miss Friday’s game. Little information has been released as to the severity of Martin’s injury but I suspect (and hope) he will return to action shortly.
Should Swisher miss time, his bat and defense in right is replaceable. While Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez may not be ideal options on a full time basis, the platoon should be able to help mitigate any outfield injuries that occur throughout the season. Losing Martin would be devastating. The current backup options include a pair of players who have struggled to compete offensively at the high minor leagues and have yet to establish themselves in the Majors.
This recent string of offensive injuries comes a week after David Robertson injured his foot, though his recovery time would appear to be minimal, and about as long since Freddy Garcia, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, was hit with a batted ball. Garcia is expected to miss minimal time and should return to action next week, though he appears likely headed to the bullpen along with Robertson.
All this adds up to a bunch of minor injuries and a whole lot of caution – which is a good thing. Players get hurt. There’s no reason to rush an integral part of the 2012 team back to action during Spring Training as these players have plenty of time to warm up for the regular season. But it’s a reasonably mild reminder that while Spring Training doesn’t usually matter, the equation changes if a player is injured and missed signficant time. Despite strong pitching and corner infield and outfield depth, the Yankees have little depth up the middle. Losing a player lik Russell Martin or Derek Jeter could be devastating.
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