It’s April 19 and the New York Yankees find themselves banged up with twelve guys on the Injured List as if a whole season had taken it’s toll rather than just 21 days.
The team is struggling to find it’s footing here in the early going, challenged by the mass of injuries that have plagued them. It’s hard to say who the club misses more, it’s ace, it’s centerfielder or it’s catcher.
The Yankees have an 8-10 record and are 5.5 games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. Fans are baffled in the Bronx, as the Yankees lose against teams they should beat (White Sox) and beat teams who pose the greatest challenge (Red Sox).
The lineups these days reflect the reality that an all-star team is on the IL for the Yankees and are made up of rookie call-ups – Mike Ford is the most recent, joining Gio Urshela and Tyler Wade on the Yankee bench – and regulars, such as Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner and Luke Voit.
Yankee manager Aaron Boone has configured numerous lineups this season, moving Gardner in and out of the lead-off spot, trying LeMahieu there, using Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman in an almost platoon situation to get Frazier’s bat into the lineup and Tauchman’s glove in the field.
In the game on Thursday, against the Kansas City Royals, the Yankee’s looked flat offensively after their emotional two-game series win over the Boston Red Sox; they were unable to gain momentum from that win to propel them forward to a win against the Royals, losing 6-1.
The team lacks consistency because the Yankees are still a team figuring it out this season rather than a team with a plan and a direction. The poet T.S. Eliot once wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” and for Yankee fans it certainly has been as the team rides the waves of success one day, followed by a face plant in the dirt the next.
Usually when we think about a team that’s banged up and jerry-rigging the lineup, it’s August, not April. The dog days of August came early to the Bronx with injuries and tired-looking performances marring the early promise of the season.
Good news, May is on the way and will bring healthy players back to this lineup, – Gary Sanchez is due to come off the IL on Sunday. Aaron Hicks is with the team and is ramping up baseball activities, and Giancarlo Stanton may be able to join the team after the West Coast trip around May 9th, according to MLBTraderumors.com
When this team begins to get it’s starters back, it will become the kind of team that can carry the momentum of winning from one game to the next, one series to the next, and on into the postseason.
April losses can defeat you in October, but only if you let them. The Yankees have some time still to get healthy and get their starters back in the lineup before the season is in jeopardy.
In the meantime, May can’t come soon enough for the Bombers to turn the page and start playing better baseball.