Yankees Injury Update: Tough Ben Rortvedt injury news, but Kyle Higashioka is dominating

Ben Rortvedt, yankees

Despite the New York Yankees having reported interest in Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, it seems as if they will deploy a platoon with Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt this upcoming season. The Yankees acquired Rortvedt via trade with the Minnesota Twins, sending Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez on their way in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson in addition.

Rortvedt has experience with new Yankees catching coach Tanner Swanson, providing a bit of familiarity and experience with his former protégé. However, Rortvedt has failed to make an offensive impact at the MLB level, but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity, playing in just 39 games last season in his first action at the top level.

At 24 years old, the Yankees see Rortvedt as a great defensive catcher who can complement Higashioka, who seems to have the starting job cemented at this point. The former Twins catcher is still dealing with an oblique injury that he sustained before the trade. His readiness for opening day is in question.

“I don’t want to rule it out, but also not really sure at this point,” Rortvedt said Sunday, via the NY Post. “Just trying to be smart about it moving forward so it doesn’t linger.”

The Yankees have been taking a cautious approach with him the past few weeks, which is necessary considering his work ethic and desire to continue growing.

“Honestly, knowing myself, it’s probably good they’re kind of holding me back or else I probably would have torn this thing a new one,” Rortvedt said. “It’s smarter.”

Ben suffered the injury swinging the bat, which has kept him from working on his offensive side, but he still participating in individual catching drills.

“I’m kind of a combination of I’m in pretty good shape but also I take care of myself from a flexibility standpoint,” Rortvedt said. “It was just a freak [injury] but also a workload thing I think. Just something to manage, watch my swings from now on. Honestly it was just coming in ultra-prepared and it happened. It was pretty annoying.”

In the meantime, Higashioka will be the starter on opening day, and he’s having a stellar spring over five games. Over 12 at-bats, Higashioka is hitting .500 with six hits and three homers, showcasing his underrated power.

Most of the Yankees’ top pitchers prefer Higashioka behind the plate, given his defensive qualities and the way he calls games. The Yankees can feel confident with him to start the year, but over a larger sample size, Higashioka hasn’t proven to be a consistent offensive weapon.