New York Yankees Injuries: The Yankees aren’t playing the blame game, it is what it is

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

For the New York Yankees, it’s Deja vu all over again. Injuries, injuries, and more injuries.  Halfway through this shortened season, we are seeing a similar injury list that we saw last year when the Yankees experienced an unprecedented number of injuries. Last year the Yankees had injuries to 30 players for 39 separate incidents. This year in the first month we have had 10 stints on the IL, that’s ahead of last year.

After last year, the New York Yankees cleaned house, and completely revamped their strength and conditioning team, including replacing long time head trainer Stevey Donohue. The move for the Yankees was the hope of preventing the reoccurrence of 2019. The Yankees hired Assistant Director of Player Health and Performance Donovan Santas and Major League Strength and Conditioning Coach Brett McCabe. Assuming new roles in 2020 is Director of Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Michael Schuk, Head Athletic Trainer Tim Lentych, and Director of Medical Services Steve Donohue.

The biggest change was the hiring of celebrity Eric Cressey to the New York Yankees, to oversee the player health and performance team. With all the unexpected injuries this season, some Yankees fans are wondering what’s going on with the changes, it’s not working.  The fans may be questioning, the New York Yankees are not playing the blame game. Cressey was hired just one month before the start of spring training and has hardly had any time to revamp anything. The complete change of staff was to show progress for the coming years.

Instead, the Yankees are blaming the bizarre season itself. Spring training was never completed when all of baseball was shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus.  Then when summer camp was reopened, it was for a shortened conditioning period, leading to most players not having that long period to build up slowly, and due that, they are now starting to break down.

Whether you believe that explanation or not, the MLB stats seem to support it, as it’s not just the Yankees, it’s happening all over baseball.  This year the 30 clubs had collectively used the injured list 146 times for a total of 1,461 missed days through Thursday’s games, the 29th day of the regular season. Through 29 days last year (2019), those numbers stood at 93 and 1,280, which is almost 50% fewer injuries.

Several New York Yankee players have echoed that sentiment, citing the short build-up period that is now causing these injuries. Yankee pitcher James Paxton who is one of the ten Yankees players on the IL said it best in an interview following Saturday’s work out at Yankee Stadium.

“I think it’s pretty simple: short spring training,” Paxton said, referring to the spring training 2.0 that lasted less than half the length of spring training 1.0. “We didn’t get enough time going at a lower speed to kind of build up, and now you’re seeing a few weeks into the season, guys are not fresh anymore. The tiredness is building up. We don’t have that base we normally have.”

The Yankee players were working out Saturday as the entire weekend series with the crosstown New York Mets was postponed/canceled, due to a player and crew member testing positive for the coronavirus. Although there is some talk of a doubleheader on Monday at Citi Field, if further tests are negative, that scenario is unlikely. The next games to be played by the Yankees will most likely be at Truist Park, starting on Tuesday, with the Atlanta Braves.