It was only a matter of time before the New York Yankees picked up their first injury of the season, and this time around, it was starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt.
Schmidt exited spring training with elbow issues earlier this week, and with the expectation of missing several weeks, the injury could put his desire to land the 5th spot in the starting rotation in jeopardy.
At 25 years old, Schmidt is looking to take the next step in his professional career, and becoming a regular starter for the Yankees will be a significant jump. He has been working this off-season tirelessly to improve his mechanics and increase his pitch velocity. In 2020, he received his first action at the highest level, pitching just 6.1 innings and logging a 7.11 ERA.
The young starter was initially worried about the elbow injury but reports that it is minor have spurred optimism.
“Obviously, the day after my first [bullpen session], I was worried it was going to be more significant with the lack of range of motion that I had,” Schmidt said. “When I got the MRI back, everything was so clean structurally and it was the best-case scenario.”
The New York Yankees will have to proceed with caution, but all is good on the western front:
Despite the lack of severity surrounding the injury, he will still have to wait several weeks to return to full form. It could set him back in his quest to land a spot in the rotation, but he’s expected to be on the equation nonetheless.
“Obviously I won’t be competing for that fifth spot out of the gate, but my goal hasn’t changed at all,” Schmidt said. “I feel like I can really contribute for this team and I will do that. Right now, I just want to focus on getting healthy. That’s my No. 1 thing, just taking it day-by-day.
“This was the best I’ve felt coming into a camp, as far as from an arm and body standpoint. It was definitely a blow. It was very frustrating for me. This was one of those offseasons where I’d put in more work than I ever have before. But I’m thankful it’s not more serious and I should be back soon.”
Luckily, the Yankees were preparing to create a position battle in the fifth spot. They have Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, and Schmidt as potential options. While losing Schmidt for a few weeks isn’t ideal, they have the depth to supplement his loss with ease.